A Case of X-Philia (Part 2) – Fight the Future

By the conclusion of Season 5, the X-files branch was sabotaged and incinerated within the hallowed grounds of FBI headquarters. Scully and particularly Mulder’s life work were all incomplete cases now. Outside of the show though, the executives at Fox suspected that the show would be a prime candidate to leap to the silver screen. The timing couldn’t be more apropos with the show’s notoriety and ratings high. Therefore, the 1998 interim feature Fight the Future was born.

In a preamble in North Texas circa 38,000 B.C., the showrunners honor the cold opening with cavemen traipsing through the frozen tundra. Director Rob Bowman weens on the widescreen presentation for a more cinematic feel. This can’t be slandered with the criticism that it’s just a pedestrian episode.

For neophytes, the enigmatic black oil’s origins are introduced with a quite dropsical prehistoric battle between the aforementioned caveman and a dormant alien. I doubt it will obfuscate anyone with an amenable appetite for theoretical science-fiction.

With a moratorium on the X-files, Mulder and Scully are now drones for FBI assignments like the terrorist bomb at the federal building. Their snappy verbal sparring is akin to Hepburn and Tracy. She teases Mulder about the door being locked and the white corpuscles of heat are handily exchanged between them.

It might seem like a boilerplate Lethal Weapon set piece to see Mulder and Scully against a vending machine combustible but it’s undeniably white-knuckle nonetheless. It also has minimal bearing on the eventual plot except to establish the status quo that the duo are now demoted.

There is a wry in-joke where Mulder is urinating on a poster of Independence Day outside of a bar. A translucent extraterrestrial gestating inside of a cadaver would’ve been a flagrantly rubbery puppet but the make-up effects by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. are stupendous.

Perhaps, Chris Carter accumulated his most astute material for the film because, despite his top billing as the creator, his episodes are usually the weakest. But his poison pen doesn’t infect this grandiose foray which combines the show’s best elements: otherworldly suspense (the nail-biting sequence inside the apiary facility), the sizzling Mulder-Scully dynamic (which is nearly consummated with a kiss before a critical bee sting) and self-effacing humor (“You look like door-to-door salesman”).

Granted, the cat-and-mouse chase through the cornfield is too melodramatic with the agents infernally yelling for each other as if they’re pinned down in a foxhole. Otherwise, the film is magnificently crafted. After his effectively cerebral, thrilling stint with The X-Files, Bowman helmed the guilty pleasure Reign of Fire and the stillborn Electra spin-off.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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