Twenty years ago today, Mulder and Scully burst across the big screen in the first feature film of The X-Files series. The X-Files movie (also known as The X-Files: Fight the Future) picked up where the fifth season ended and it did not ease viewers into Mulder and Scully’s new reality. Oh no, it started with a boom. Literally.
The X-Files movie is angsty. The mythology and conspiracies twist and turn at a moment’s notice. Mulder and Scully are on the brink of losing everything, including each other when they make a last-ditch effort to expose the truth. The consequences are unforeseeable and bring out the best in our favorite alien-hunting duo.
I remember when I first saw this film. I went by myself because I wanted no distractions. When it ended, I immediately got in line and watched it again. I saw it four more times that weekend. A little obsessive? Maybe. But that was how irresistible this film was….and still is today.
In honor of the 20th Anniversary of The X-Files movie, I thought it would be fun to revisit why this movie is as beloved today as it was in 1998. Fair warning, major spoilers below! And yes, this is purely subjective! After all, I’m an X-Phile!
The X-Files Movie – Plot Overview
When the film begins, the X-Files are closed. Mulder and Scully are working “normal” cases. They‘re in Dallas to disarm a bomb set to detonate inside a federal facility. Of course, Mulder decides to sweep the adjacent building and discovers the bomb in a soda machine. It’s too late and the bomb explodes. Four people die and the government pins their deaths on Mulder and Scully.
Pending reassignment, Mulder and Scully receive a tip that the explosion was part of the government conspiracy to cover-up an alien virus. What follows is a tantalizing race against time to expose the truth and discover just how far you will go to save the one you love.
Why The X-Files Movie Works for Fans and Non-Fans Alike
The X-Files mythology is not easy to follow. Even long-time fans admit the mythology alone is enough reason for “newbies” to stay clear. Yet, The X-Files movie simplified the conspiracy in such a way as to appeal to non-regular viewers of the television series. By the same token, it remained true to everything loyal fans watched over the previous five seasons. In this way, the conspiracy became more tangible. It was more realistic. Or, at least as realistic alien colonization can be!
However, what really made the conspiracy were the tools the film used to inspire fear. A simple playground, everyday fuel trucks, and rows of innocent looking corn. And, of course, there were the bees. I never looked at bees the same way again. Not only because of the idea bees were carrying the alien viruses but also because of their meddling ways. More on that below!
The Mulder and Scully Relationship
Mulder and Scully were in top form from their very first scene together to the bittersweet end. They argued, they debated, and they teased each other. They engaged in conversations so very typical of Mulder and Scully. From Scully’s pragmatic discussion on the purpose of terrorism to Mulder’s pleas with her to not give up on the truth. More importantly, not give up on him.
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The chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson make every moment more intense. No matter how brief, their natural chemistry added depth and layers to their scenes. The way Scully teases Mulder on the rooftop makes me wonder how the building didn’t just explode from the tension right then and there.
Of course, I cannot NOT mention the hallway scene. The emotion, the longing, the heat! It finally looked like the stars were going to align but alas! One of those dratted, virus-carrying bees stole the moment. Fans take that scene in any number of ways. But for me, it remains one of the greatest almost first kisses…..ever!
Scully is a Boss
There are a number of issues with how The X-Files treats its female characters. There’s no doubt that Scully has been subjected to a fair number of those issues. Yet, one thing I’ve always loved about Scully is that despite what the writers do to her, she is a boss. Never was that more on display in The X-Files movie.
She took charge. Stood her ground. Even after Scully was almost killed, she faced those conspirators. She spits in their eye and takes Mulder’s hand. While Mulder may be the more obviously passionate of the two, it’s Scully that feels more deeply. Her quiet dignity, the fact she’s the most intelligent person in the room, and her passion make Scully the more formidable of the two. That’s exactly how it should be.
Mulder at His Byronic Brooding Best
You would think that brooding Mulder would get old. Fast. But no….not in the least. Brooding Mulder is irresistible. Watching him drown his sorrows while Glenne Headly eyes him with skepticism is one of the best moments in the film. He drunkenly rambles about his role in a larger conspiracy. She promptly cuts him off. It’s a brief moment, but one of the best.
As much as he’s prone to brooding, Mulder is as quick to shake it off when given a chance. It’s that rebellious side of him. The side that won’t let him let something go despite being told to back off. It’s that side of Mulder that has taken him and Scully on some amazing journeys. What they face in The X-Files movie is no different. The stakes are higher, lives are at risk, and Mulder stands to lose the most important person in his life.
“I’m not going to watch you die, Scully, because of some hollow personal cause of mine.”
With single-minded determination, Mulder saves Scully in a way that only Mulder can. It’s what makes him such an intensely driven character. And let’s face it….it’s what makes him so appealing!
The X-Files Movie and Music
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the music. Not just the original score but the soundtrack as well. With artists such as Foo Fighters, Tonic, Better than Ezra and Filter, the soundtrack is an amazing compilation of music that just fits. Haunting acoustics and soulful tones are in sync with the mood of the film. In particular, the Foo Fighter’s “Walking After You” perfectly encapsulates Mulder and Scully’s relationship.
If you haven’t seen The X-Files movie, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s smart and sexy. Scary yet filled with moments of humor that catch you off-guard. The X-Files movie is one of those films that never gets old….no matter how many times you’ve seen it!
Where to Watch: The X-Files movie is available to rent or purchase on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play Movies & TV and iTunes.
Content Warning: Rated PG-13 for some violence and gore, sexual innuendo and mild language.
Can you believe it’s been 20 years since The X-Files movie arrived in theatres? Whether in the theater or streaming it online, what was your reaction when you first saw the film? Drop me a line below!
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
“You had me at hello.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”