The X-Files Movie

Special Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Sci-Fi / Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Chris Carter (writer) & Rob Bowman (director)
Running Time 117:40 minutes Other Extras Featurette - Making Of
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (41:56)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Rob Bowman

Fox Home Video
Starring David Duchovny
Gillian Anderson
Martin Landau
Blythe Danner
Armin Mueller-Stahl
RRP $39.95 Music Mark Snow
Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles Czech
English For The Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

   I particularly wanted to review X Files: The Movie because I am what you might call an X-Files non-fan. I watched the pilot episode and thought "hmmm." I watched the second episode, and simply gave up. It just didn't capture my imagination for some reason; maybe it was the wooden acting of David Duchovny, or the overly ridiculous creatures and plots, or maybe it was because it was hyped as being dramatizations of real scenarios and when that bubble burst for me I was disappointed. That might sound overly naive, but there it is. It was therefore with great interest that I spun this disc in my player, sat down, and thought "okay, let's give a go as a sci-fi movie in its own right" given that I have no previous biases, bents or prejudices to influence my perceptions. How does it hold up by itself? Quite well, actually. It is not a classic, but it is nonetheless a fairly sturdy self-contained conspiracy movie that is essentially an expensive TV episode filmed in cinemascope with a film score.

    According to Chris Carter, the inventor behind this and the brilliant Millennium, the movie focuses on the myth of the x-files, which the TV series touches on now and then, but tends to avoid. Conspiracy is the key to the plot; the hiding of the truth from the masses. Essentially, an alien virus has been on Earth since 35,000 BC and has laid dormant and has been accidentally found by a group of children. It is up to our protagonists, FBI special agents Dana Skully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) to uncover the secrecy surrounding the explosion of a building in Texas which they find to be carried out not by terrorists, but by the government themselves, in order to hide bodies which had been contaminated and taken over by the alien life form. Finding this, Agent Fox carries himself and Skully ever deeper into the cover up, aided by Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau) who tips Fox off to the whole conspiracy.

    The plot is full of holes, is largely implausible and has scenes which simply don't make any sense, at least not to me. It doesn't really matter, because even I knew that being called "X-Files: The Movie", a journey into the credible is not what this could ever be about. If you give the movie the benefit of the doubt, it works. Actually, it has piqued my interest and I wouldn't mind giving the series a second chance, and I suppose it is only a matter of time until Foxtel repeats the series from the beginning...

Transfer Quality


    I think the wait for Fox titles has been worth it, as their transfers are routinely excellent, and all are 16x9 enhanced. This is a another reference quality transfer, and I am very happy to be awarding this status quite frequently as of late. Be assured that I am most picky with my video, and I don't bestow this rating lightly.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. The packaging claims an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and letterbox formatting, which would indicate non-16x9 enhancement, though it also labels the transfer as being 16x9.

    This transfer is wonderfully sharp and detailed, breathtaking at times and very film-like, which is a trait of Fox transfers. Also a trait is the shadow detail quality. A lot of this movie takes place in the dark, you know, to increase the tension and intrigue... Well, it is probably intentional but many of these scenes are a tad too dark, and sometimes suffer from a lack of shadow detail. I feel that the scenes do not suffer from badly from it, but they are not handled as well as Courage Under Fire, which is reference for shadow detail by itself in my book. But I will give this transfer the benefit of the doubt given the movie's inherent dark nature. Of particular note is the complete lack of low-level noise - the image is smooth and clean, and there is no edge enhancement visible.

    The colour palette was slightly red biased, with skin tones being too warm at times towards the start of the movie. Whether I got used to it, or the situation improved I am not sure, but it did improve as the movie progressed. Many of the darker scenes were handled exceptionally well in terms of colours. At all times, there was no chroma noise or edge bleed, giving the movie a very clean and tight look.

    Probably the most striking aspect of this transfer, especially given its sharpness and clarity, was the total and utter absence of any artefacting of any kind. The MPEG encoding was transparent to the point of bringing a tear of pride to the eye that this type of compression can work at all, yet alone this well. Aliasing was simply non existent; film artefacts were non existent; film-to-video artefacts were non existent. Brilliant stuff.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 41:56 during chapter 7. Its placement is not the best, as there is a pause in the soundtrack, and a slight shudder from the image, and so it is mildly disruptive.


    There is just the one English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and it is brilliant. Once again, this is a reference soundtrack and will delight 5.1 fans.

    Dialogue was always clear and well recorded, with no lip-sync problems at all.

    The score by Mark Snow (who also writes for the series) is purposefully non-melodic, and generally atmospheric in nature. It is heavily orchestral, and the documentary reveals Mark's delight in being able to work with an orchestra instead of a bank of synthesizers. It certainly sounds grand and fitting for a movie, and whilst it never really calls attention to itself, it was strong, and very well reproduced. The soundstage is wide and open, though not particularly detailed given that it is predominantly strings and other non-localizable instruments. The frequency response is full, with clear highs and a nice weight from the lower frequencies. Very nice, certainly.

    Maybe it's just me, but the opening 20th Century Fox logo always has given me a thrill as a movie begins, and its aggressive surround usage carries on into the movie proper. This soundtrack makes superb use of the surrounds, which sound full and nicely discrete. You simply can't ask for more than is given from this movie, and I dips me lid to the audio engineers who produce stunning soundtracks like this one.

    A high-quality soundtrack cannot be without good integration of the subwoofer, and here it is used with precision and skill. Explosions are suitably energetic, and the score also benefits from an active lower register.



    This is a very attractive and well done menu. The main menu has an subtly animated corn-field at night scene, with a floating mysterious-looking X in the sky, accompanied by a suitably eerie rendition of the familiar score; making a selection invokes a very well done X flash onto the screen which leads to a given sub menu. The only pity is that the scene selections are not animated, which would have rounded this great menu off nicely. It is hard to determine whether it is 16x9 or not, but it fits either aspect ratio well. A very good menu, and one which happily appears to be standard fare from Fox.

English Audio Commentary - Chris Carter (Writer) & Rob Bowman (Director)

    The two collaborators of this commentary do not seem to be together, and we basically go from person to person in a round-robin fashion. Sometimes it is hard to tell who is speaking, as they both are so relaxed and have a monotonic droll which at times is quite dull to listen to, and are both placed dead centre. Whilst they do impart some good info, it is a bit on the tedious side. However, fans will, I am sure, benefit from this greatly and enjoy it. It should also be noted that the mono soundtrack spills into the mains and surrounds slightly, and has the movie soundtrack behind the vocals.

Featurette - The Truth Behind The Making Of The X-Files (26:54)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, this is an old documentary which has been shown on television and is actually quite good. It goes into some fair detail of key production aspects, and is a nice addition to the package. The quality is okay, but it is clearly running at a low bit-rate as MPEG artefacting becomes apparent but not too distracting. This is fine, as the movie must and should be given full priority on any disc.

Theatrical Trailer (1:20)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, which also appears to be standard fare from Fox.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:    Can you imagine watching a non-16x9 enhanced letterboxed NTSC movie? I have said it before and I will say it again - it's ugly and you don't want to go there. I also can't get excited over booklets. The R4 version is the clear winner, pun intended.


    A decent conspiracy thriller with enough for the X-virgins like me to enjoy, whilst at the same time giving a little to the die-hards. Not too bad at all, and certainly better than I expected.

    The video is superb, and is another reference title from Fox.

    The audio is also excellent, and is of reference quality.

    The extras department is a little bit tight for a Special Edition, since the featurette is nothing special, and the commentary is a bit on the dull side.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
12th February, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A (S-Video output)
Display Pioneer Rear - Projection SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive