The X-Files: I Want to Believe appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Lately I’ve seen so many mediocre transfers for recent movies that I started to worry something was wrong with my TV. Happily, Believe established that my set’s working just fine, as it provided a solid visual presentation.
Sharpness looked strong. Very little sharpness ever cropped up, as even wide shots delivered good clarity and definition. This was a consistently tight image. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge enhancement remained absent. At no point did I detect any source flaws; the movie seemed clear and clean.
As one might expect from a somber, low-key movie, Believe went with a somber, low-key palette. The film reflected a winter setting and showed a chilly, bluish tone much of the time. The DVD delivered good clarity for the hues, as they seemed appropriate for the material. Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows appeared smooth and well-defined. Overall, I felt impressed by this positive presentation.
I also felt pleased with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Believe. Because the movie didn’t feature a ton of action sequences, it usually focused on general atmosphere. That side of things worked well, as the flick delivered a good sense of environment. The smattering of louder scenes demonstrated involving material. These involved elements like helicopters and cars; none of them dazzled, but they opened up the spectrum in a satisfying way.
Audio quality was always pleasing. Speech appeared concise and distinctive; no edginess or other issues materialized. Music sounded lively and dynamic, while effects also came across in a positive manner. Those elements were full and rich. They showed good clarity and accuracy, with tight highs and warm lows. Though not a killer soundtrack, the mix worked well.
Plenty of extras appear in this 3-DVD set. On Disc One, we start with an audio commentary from creator/writer/producer/Director Chris Carter and writer/producer Frank Spotnitz. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss cast and performances, sets and locations, story, editing, and changes for the extended cut, production design and camerawork, visual effects, and a mix of other movie details.
Spotnitz and Carter provide a “meat and potatoes” commentary. They cover the requisite material in a reasonably succinct manner, but they never make this a particularly involving discussion. We get a decent overview of the basic issues here and that’s about it. The commentary informs but doesn’t turn into anything especially winning.
We can watch the film’s theatrical version or an extended cut. The former goes for one hour, 44 minutes and 24 seconds, while the longer edition runs one hour, 48 minutes and four seconds. How do the two differ? In minor ways, I think. Although I saw Believe theatrically, I honestly couldn’t identify any additions. I think the alterations are subtle at best, and I don’t feel they change the movie’s impact in any way.
Three Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, 54 seconds. These include “Cheryl Cunningham Begs Scientist to Let Her Go” (1:31), “Father Joe Visits Scully at Hospital” (1:14) and “Mulder Escapes from Car Wreck” (3:09). Of the three “Hospital” seems the most interesting, as it shows a tense encounter between Scully and Joe. None of them come across as especially memorable, though.
For a look at the project’s ecological impact, we go to Chris Carter: Statements on Green Production. The six-minute and 16-second piece provides notes from Carter as he tells us the ways the production attempted to avoid harm to the environment. It all seems pretty self-congratulatory to me.
Next comes the eight-minute, eight-second Body Parts: Special Makeup Effects. We hear from special makeup effects designer Bill Terezakis as he shows us fake torsos and body parts. This becomes a fairly disgusting featurette, but it offers a nice look at the makeup effects work.
A Gag Reel fills nine minutes, 48 seconds. People fall down, flub their lines, and act silly. I’m sure X-Files fans will enjoy this look at their heroes out of character, but it bores me.
We also get a Music Video for Xzibit’s “Dying 2 Live”. The term “music video” is a stretch, as the clip simply plays the song on top of photos from the movie. What’s the point?
Four Still Galleries come next. These break into “Collectibles” (89 images), “Storyboards” (152), “Concept Art” (16) and “Unit Photography” (50). All offer some interesting elements, but I like “Collectibles” the best; it shows a nice array of X-Files memorabilia from throughout the series’ run.
In addition to two trailers, we find an anti-tobacco Public Service Announcement. DVD One also opens with some ads. We get promos for digital copies and the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.
DVD Two features an extended three-part documentary. Trust No One: Can The X-Files Remain a Secret?” goes for one hour, 25 minutes and 55 seconds as it features notes from Carter, Spotnitz, Terezakis, sound mixer Michael Williamson, producer’s assistant Marcie Larson, gaffer David Tickell, production designer Mark S. Freeborn, assistant location manager Sean Finnan, costume set supervisor Dawn Climie, executive producer Brent O’Connor, director of photography Bill Roe, costume designer Lisa Tomczeszyn, Spotnitz’ assistant Errin Clutton, script supervisor Portia Belmont, video assist operator Rob Parisien, Carter’s assistant Evan Godfrey, title designer Ramsey McDaniel, end credit additional designer Jeff Stone, senior visual effects supervisor Mat Beck, digital FX artist Eli Jarra, editor Richard A. Harris, composer Mark Snow, and actors David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Billy Connolly, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Amanda Peet, and Callum Keith Rennie. “Secret” looks at the development of Believe and its story, coming back after so many years apart, shoot specifics, cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography and costumes, makeup and visual effects, music and editing, the end credits, and attempts to keep the movie’s plot secret.
Given the documentary’s title, you’d expect a stronger focus on that last subject. Indeed, the efforts enacted to prevent plot details from leaking creates a consistent thread through the program, but it doesn’t really dominate. It does become the most interesting aspect of “Secret”, as we learn the extent to which the filmmakers tried to thwart Internet spies.
The rest of the show seems more ordinary. It delves into various topics in a reasonably efficient manner, but it never quite turns into something particularly compelling. We learn a fair amount about the flick, though, so I can’t complain too much. I think it would’ve been better if the DVD’s producers had put the “making of” bits into one piece and the secrecy issues into another.
Finally, DVD Three includes a Digital Copy of Believe. It seems like every DVD provides this option these days; it allows you to easily transfer the flick to a portable device. I have no use for it, but I guess someone must dig it.
If one expects a big, slam-bang return for The X-Files with I Want to Believe, one will emerge disappointed. The movie suffers from a myriad of flaws and few strengths, all of which leave it as dull and disjointed. The DVD provides very good picture and sound as well as a fairly solid package of supplements. I can’t complain about this release, but the movie itself becomes a massive letdown.