L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

 

Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


The LensView Home Theatre:

 

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The X-Files: I Want to Believe (Ultimate X-File Edition) [Blu-ray]

 

(Chris Carter, 2008)

 

 

Also available in the Blu-ray X-Files Movie 2-Pack (I Want to Believe / Fight the Future)    

 

     

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 104 min

Chapters: 24

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: December 2, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: Avc @ 19.5 Mbps

 

Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1; Spanish & French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese & Mandarin

 

Extras:

• Theatrical & Extended Cuts

• Interactive Complete Timeline

• Audio Commentary by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz

• Bonus-View with PIP commentary by Carter & Spotnitz

• Trust No One: Can the X-Files Remain a Secret (1:26:01)

• Chris Carter: Statements on Green Production (6:16)

• Body Parts: Visual Effects Featurette (8:12)

• Dying to Live By Xzibit (4:03)

• Gag Reel (9:49)

• Deleted Scenes

• Still Galleries

• Enhanced for D-Box Motion Control

• Digital Copy Disc

 

 

The Film: 6
Not aliens this time, but paranormal processes in a sort of Prime Suspect meets Silence of the Lambs. A psychic leads FBI agents to the aftermath of dismembered victims. Mulder, who is in seclusion and no longer works for the FBI. He's called in by way of Scully to help vet the psychic. Mulder, who can't seem to operate without Scully as backup, tries several times to persuade her to put her medical work on hold.

As for the investigation, Chris Carter and co-conspirator Frank Spotnitz have created one of the dumbest FBI agents since Harry & Lloyd in the person of Agent Drummy (Xzibit). Drummy has to be the thickest man in the universe, but Whitney (Amanda Peet) isn't a whole lot smarter, though she is more flexible and is well-intentioned. I mean: what difference does it make where your informant gets his source if he calls it 9 out of 10 times! Just because there is a possibility – perhaps even a likelihood – that he is an accomplice, would you really disregard his leads simply because you can't be certain where he gets his information? This is a no-brainer. You follow up on the leads and investigate his possible connections to suspects as they become available. Yes? No?

Mulder and Scully's conversations about whether to follow the informant's leads are at cross-purposes to the saving of lives here. Both are having that same tired argument about obsession and isolation, about Mulder needing closure about his sister and, not getting it, nurses his obsession while pressing on into the dark side. Scully, for her part, wants a life, and Mulder's obsession is wearing her out. It's a serious relationship dilemma, but is irrelevant to the investigation into a serial case of victims found in pieces in the ice.

I felt the dialog between Scully and the informant (Billy Connolly) – a self-styled psychic, a former priest and a convicted pedophile – much more interesting. Once again, Scully's steadfast religiosity is at loggerheads with the evidence as she attempts to rationalize her understanding of God from God's works: in this case, a man who buggers boys. Her heated discussion with Father Crissman, who may be the most interesting character in the movie, provides freshness to the drama.

There is a subplot that dovetails into the motivation for the murders: it involves a boy that Scully is treating in her hospital. He has a terminal disease, though there is an unproved, radical treatment that offers hope. It's fascinating to watch Scully negotiate the question of God's intentions about life and death and her own determination to keep the boy alive, no matter what. The fact that this dilemma is set in a catholic hospital makes the question that much more palpable. Scully wants to believe, but has never been able to permit science, religion and that which is explained by neither to co-exist.

Duchovny & Anderson play these characters in repertory. Even so, it is not all that necessary to know the details of the series – or even their past relationship – to appreciate how emotionally connected they are, even though they confront the same material repeatedly.

 


 

Image: 7/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

A good deal of this movie takes place in the dark or in snow flurries (I couldn't suppress a chuckle when the time and place indicated something like five in the morning in the dead of winter at North American latitudes, yet the sun was high enough to cast a shadow.) It all makes for a difficult image. Sharpness is almost irrelevant – just as it is in respect to the plot or the moral issues raised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/7
While the first X-Files movie has more noise, more often and exercises the surrounds and bass elements more vigorously, the present mix is clearer and more dynamic, thus the higher grade. Come to think of it, and to its credit, there are no explosions and nary a shot fired in this far more intimate movie.
 

Operations: 4
Just like Fox's first X-Files movie on Blu-ray I don't think I've encountered the likes of such murky operational instructions. I mean, I get the dramatic point, but I didn't much care for keeping everything a secret until you get there, and even then it's hard to read.

 

 

 

Extras: 8
For me, as a non-follower of the series, the feature I found most interesting, and that I imagine would gratify fans, is the Interactive Complete Timeline which extends from our pre-history to the present, detailing all the events and characters that play a part in this conspiratorial drama. There's nothing there about JFK, but the rest is choice, including complete episode synopses. Elsewhere, Agent Whitney may not have been so good at watching her own back, but she kept good records. Her files on four of the suspects make for interesting backstory material. The documentary: Trust No One asks us to trust the filmmakers about what this movie is all about and how it got that way. Xzibit's music video isn't much to my taste musically, but the still photos that accompany it are worth a watch.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
I watched this and the first movie back to back on blu-ray and admit to a slight preference for the first film – this despite that Fight the Future just about falls apart at so many levels in the finale. As for the image, the older movie is easier on the eyes simply because of its locales and lighting. I like where the new movie wants to go, but not so much how it got there. It's calculatingly murky at a number of levels, while the performances and clear audio keep our attention. BTW, I wonder who thought up the "Ultimate X-File Edition" thing about a movie whose main character, outside Scully & Mulder, is a pedophile?

Leonard Norwitz
December 9th, 2008

 

Also available in the Blu-ray X-Files Movie 2-Pack (I Want to Believe / Fight the Future)    

 

     

 

 





 

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