Gee, You Look Like Hell
Okay, I have to get a bit of nitpicking out of the way first. You know that opening scene of The X-Files… the bit with the cave guys running through the snowstorm who stumble on the alien… in the year 35,000 B.C., in what is today Texas…
Well, there’s some controversy as to when humans arrived in the Americas (35,000 B.C. may be pushing it a bit). And even at the height of the last ice age, I have to wonder whether a region so far south could have been snowed under. But I can let those slide. What I cannot let slide is the fact that the cave guys looked Neanderthal. Whenever humans came to the New World, they were fully modern humans, biologically speaking. They wouldn’t have had the heavy browridges and hulking bodies of our friends here. They would have looked just like you and me. What’s worse, the movie doesn’t offer any reason why these guys had to be Neanderthals — it’s just a convenient, if inaccurate, shorthand for “way in the past.”
I’ve got that out of my system now.
Other than the abovementioned little quibble, I haven’t a thing negative to say about The X-Files. It’s kinda like a great big episode of the TV series. (I’m a huge devotee of the series, so it’s a little tough to be objective, but I think the movie is self-contained enough not to confuse those who aren’t.) It’s all dark alleys and furtive conversations with mysterious informers and twisted paranoia that’s not paranoid enough. And cool aliens and secret cabals and lots and lots of FBI windbreakers. And scads of unresolved sexual tension between Our Heros (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) that’s constantly rearing its head. And it’s full of moments when you jump back in your seat and say to yourself, Well, that was unexpected.
Oh, and there’s a really good swipe at Independence Day.
One of the really interesting things about The X-Files (on both the big and small screens) is that it’s not afraid to let its stars look like crap. I wouldn’t say that The X-Files is so popular merely because of the sex appeal of its stars (as a friend I attended the screening with said, it’s just a bonus that David Duchovny is so cute), but there’s no question that Duchovny and Anderson are perhaps the sex symbols of the 90s.
And yet The X-Files is constantly beating up on these two gorgeous people. Mulder and Scully spend half the movie running themselves ragged (and looking it) and the other half sitting under unflattering fluorescent lights at FBI headquarters defending their actions. Both end up with their beautiful faces scratched, scarred, gunshot, and bloodied.
And that’s really kind of a great thing. It gets old seeing movie stars perched perkily in a hospital bed looking like they’re ready for a magazine shoot. For a movie that’s deals with a lot of fantasy and unreality, The X-Files has one foot — or maybe just a toe — planted in the real world.