If you pay close attention while watching the new film "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," you'll probably catch a few familiar names and faces buried in the heightened action — but only if you're super-familiar with the TV show.
It's a gift that "X-Files" creator Chris Carter, who directed and co-wrote "I Want to Believe," presents to the true fans: the X-Philes. It's for the ones who have been waiting eagerly to see what has become of their favorite FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson), in the six years since the TV show ended.
Carter said he can't help himself: "I try to throw as much into a story as possible. If I have a chance to put a number in there, if I have a chance to put a face in there, if I have a chance to put a reference in there, I just put it in there. And oftentimes these are not perfectly well thought out. ... They're just inspiration."
But those who are new to "The X-Files" needn't worry — no prior knowledge is actually needed to enjoy "I Want to Believe." Unlike the first "X-Files" movie, 1998's "Fight the Future," this film has a self-contained story, unconnected to the larger alien/ government-conspiracy "mythology" of the nine-season-long TV series. It's more like a straight-up horror thriller than a sci-fi adventure.
"I think the movie does a really good job of weaving in certain things for the fans," said Duchovny, but he stressed that the standalone nature of the plot was the only way to go. "To re-establish the name and the franchise six years after the show's off the air and 10 years after the first movie, I don't think you could build that next movie on any specialized knowledge. You want to reach as broad an audience as possible with as little foreknowledge as they can have."
Anderson agreed: "For this one, coming back after such a long stretch of time, it actually does make more sense that we're not dealing with all the complicated aspects of [the mythology]."
Back when "Fight the Future" was released, the TV show was still going strong. The movie served as a sort of bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons, and those unfamiliar with the show probably had a hard time understanding it all. "When we went out to publicize the first movie," Duchovny remembered, "our marching orders were, 'Tell people that they don't have to know anything about the show,' but that was a lie. We're actually not lying this time."
So if you're not an X-Phile (yet), go to the theater, relax and enjoy. And if you are, you'll be rewarded for your loyalty — but don't think that you can catch every one of the hidden in-jokes and references. "There are things in there that no one will ever know that I've put in," Carter said.
Check out everything we've got on "The X-Files: I Want to Believe."
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