As a long-time fan of The X-Files on television, I was excited to see what has happened to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) since their last adventures on the small screen. I admit that I had been out of the loop for a while, so this movie came upon my by surprise. I had only known about it for a week or so, and suddenly it was already in theaters.
Normally, when a movie following a long series of previous source material comes out, I do some research by watching/reading/playing whatever existed before. For I Want to Believe I didn't have the time to do that research. I only had my memory to depend on.
Thankfully, the movie didn't pull a lot from the television series or the last movie (of which the title currently escapes me). There weren't any alien abductions, just a reference to Mulder's sister (whose abduction spawned Mulder's desire to learn the "truth" about the paranormal). When we first see Scully, she's working as a physician in a Catholic hospital, caring for a young boy with a rare brain disease. Mulder is a hermit - complete with unkempt beard and a wall covered in newspaper clippings. When the FBI seeks out Mulder via Scully, the adventure begins. They decided to call in Mulder to help find a missing agent and dealing with a supposed psychic who has had visions of the missing agent.
The pacing of the movie is a little slow, and the only paranormal thing in the movie is the psychic - who, we soon learn, may be making the whole thing up (he is a former Catholic priest living in a dormitory for convicted sex offenders - he had a thing for his altar boys back in the day). But that doesn't stop the movie from being a fascinating trip into the minds of Scully and Mulder - coming back to the FBI after so many years. The movie brings up ethical and moral dilemmas that make both characters look into themselves to learn what really drives them and what they really need.
Really, the main drawback to the movie was that it wasn't like an episode of The X-Files as much as it was an X-Files family reunion - getting the old faces back for one last tromp through a snow-covered field searching for something they're not even sure is there. I was hoping for some aliens, to be honest, or a government cover-up of something they deny exists.
In the end, I was happy with the movie, despite my complaints. There was something magical about seeing Mulder passionate about something, and seeing Scully question his passion and her own. And the adventure of saving lives and solving mysteries is at the heart of any X-Files story - which this movie does with all its heart.