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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Italian, German - Hearing Impaired, English - Visually Impaired
  Extras
  • Featurette

The X-Files - Providence

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 83 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

After eight previous seasons, at around 24 episodes apiece, you'd be forgiven for assuming that the ninth and final year of The X-Files is perhaps just too much of a good thing. You'd also think that, with barely a dozen shows to go, the makers of the Provenance/Providence two-parter (which aired half-way through the final year) would be busting a proverbial gut to tie up the staggering number of conflicting plot threads that they've established over the years.

Well, in terms of the former, you may or may not be right. A lot of viewers are finding the show tired and overly formulaic, and the audience has dwindled (Channel Ten are now showing their former flagship series at 10:30pm Saturday). For my money, the new stars (Annabeth Gish as Monica Reyes and the uber-cool Robert Patrick as John Doggett) and some very decent stories still make it the best show on the tube at present (at least now that Buffy's over for the year).

As for the latter, you'd be waaay wrong. Providence is another of the two-part "mythology" mini-movies (i.e. the ones that deal with the alien invasion arc) that raises far more questions than it answers.

Scully is shocked to discover a series of rubbings found at the site of an illegal border crossing in North Dakota. The symbols on these rubbings are similar to those she found on an alien spacecraft several years ago (in the Biogenesis two-parter, as any good X-Phile knows).

Realising that sinister elements in the FBI are after information about these hieroglyphics for their own mysterious ends, Scully enlists the help of the only people she can trust - Doggett, Reyes, and techno-nerd trio the Lone Gunmen - in an effort to discover the origin of the rubbings.

Along the way there are dramatic revelations about Scully's baby, the introduction of another cult of UFO worshippers, existential musings about the existence of God and the relevance of religion, and speculation as to Mulder's whereabouts.

All the series' trademarks are present: gorgeous cinematography, big-budget sets, impressive effects, and a very capable cast. Gillian Anderson gets to temporarily throw off her icy-cool facade and do some serious emoting as Scully's son is threatened, and Cary Elwes is suitably creepy as the ambiguous Assistant Director Follmer (who boasts a fascinating bit of character development in the final scene).

But the portentous dialogue and lack of any real answers is beginning to grate. Why is it that nobody in this show (save the earthy Agent Doggett) can give a straight answer to a question? The endless variations of "The truth is out there, if you just look for it," "The answers are in front of you, you just can't see them," and "I could tell you, but you just wouldn't understand," are getting really wearying.

Still, this is a fine example of The X-Files doing what The X-Files does best.

  Video
Contract

Poi-fect! This is a flawless image in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. It's nice to see the show in widescreen, the way that God and Chris Carter intended it to be. Deep blacks, sharp edges, beautiful colours and no aliasing. Tops!

  Audio
Contract

Another sterling effort. The surround speakers and subwoofer get a great workout from this Dolby Digital 5.1 disc, with lots of lovely subtle touches and some suitably bombastic work (especially in the Gulf War flashback at the start of the second episode - you'll be ducking and covering as the bullets and mortars fly past).

  Extras
Contract

In terms of extras, each of the X-Files season-by-season box sets is an embarrassment of riches, but these mini-movie releases continue to be just plain embarrassments.

We're "treated" to two three-minute featurettes. The first promises to reveal "the powerful secrets behind Providence." Ha! It's just a three-minute summary of the two episodes (for those viewers who are in too much of a hurry to watch the whole thing, I guess).

The second is a profile of Cary Elwes' character, dubbed "Brad Follmer Revealed." And what stunning revelations are we presented with? Well, Follmer might be a good guy. Or he might be a bad guy. Or maybe he's in between. These revelations are illustrated with lots of snippets taken from Providence. Whoo-ha!

Finally, there's a Follmer collector's card that I didn't receive with my preview copy, but I'm sure it's very pretty.

  Overall  
Contract

Providence is a very decent feature length X-Files episode that won't convert the unconverted, but whih provides enough action and intrigue for any devoted X-Phile to add it to their collection. The image and sound are superb, but the extras are not.


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      And I quote...
    "Providence is another of the two-part "mythology" mini-movies (i.e. the ones that deal with the alien invasion arc) that raises far more questions than it answers. Still, this is a fine example of The X-Files doing what The X-Files does best..."
    - Terry Oberg
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Palsonic DVD3000
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Centre Speaker:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          Diamond
    • Subwoofer:
          Diamond
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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