Movies like this are really critic proof: no matter how bad the critics say it is, fans of the X-Files television show on which it is based would still go to see it. But critic proof-ness is a double-edged sword because the opposite is also true: no matter how good the critics say it is, very few non-fans will bother to check it out. All of which is a shame because it is actually very good.
The X-Files gives its audiences what few other summer movies this year has so far supplied. It is witty, clever, well acted, thrilling and exciting. Oh, and did I mention intelligent? In other words, everything that movies like Godzilla (1998) and Lost in Space (1998) have promised to be, but weren't. To simply write it off as a two-hour version of the popular television show, in which two mismatched FBI agents investigate the so-called X-Files (cases left unsolved by the bureau), is unfair. Yes, it is that, but it also makes good use of the big screen by offering the sort of special effects and production values that cinema audiences are accustomed to seeing on the big screen.
Admittedly it will reward its long-time fans most. If you're not completely familiar with the television series some minor characters will simply appear onscreen and vanish again. Fans will read more into events. I have however read of several non-fans who were completely unfamiliar with the show who gave this movie a shot and ended up enjoying it. About two years ago I was in similar position: bewildered by the whole X-Files phenomenon, I decided to see what the fuss was about and rented a few episodes on video. Exposure means addiction, as the advertisements for the series warned and pretty soon I must admit that I was hooked. The X-Files is above-average television, and in the case of this movie it also makes for above-average science fiction cinema.
If you're a fan then you have probably no doubt already seen the movie. But if you're not, don't let the notion that The X-Files is the 1990s equivalent of Star Trek geekiness put you off. Maybe checking out the videos will be a better start for the neophyte, but although this is a big screen continuation of the television series (it basically follows on the show's fifth season which recently aired in the States and elsewhere) I didn't have too hard a time following on-screen events - despite the fact that here in South Africa we are only up to the third season of the show.
So if you want to check out what The X-Files is about, then the movie is a good opportunity. Next thing you'll probably also be following it in earnest...
Review by James O'Ehley from The Sci-Fi Movie Page.