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‘X’ Marks the No. 1 Spot, but How Long?

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Pam and Alan Galera almost couldn’t handle “The Truth.”

The Orange couple left the Friday morning premiere of “The X-Files” movie happy but also wishing the film had come with a pause button or at least an intermission.

“It was like brain overload,” Pam Galera said. “It was so complex you really have to stop and think about it. It’s [Independence Day] and a suspense novel all wrapped in one. It’s amazing where they can go.”

“The X-Files,” a big-screen continuation of the hit Fox television series, opened Friday to mixed reviews. Critics either loved the movie or hated it, a split echoed by people leaving theaters this weekend. “Totally cool,” raved Irvine’s Darlene Marer.

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“OK,” shrugged Walter Focht of Long Beach.

The movie was a sure hit with theater owners. On Friday, the Irvine Spectrum, a theater that’s usually mostly empty at 10 a.m. weekdays, was nearly full for the film’s first public showing.

“It’s a big show,” floor manager Grady Bowers said. “Tonight is going to be enormous.”

By sunset, most theaters were directing fans--self-described X-Philes--to special lines. Fans crammed theaters on “X-Files” creator Chris Carter’s promise to reveal “the truth” about alien conspiracies and secret plots that FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) have pursued relentlessly through five TV seasons onto the big screen. Though the movie answers a lot of questions, it is not a finale for the TV show.

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Despite predictions that non-X-Philes would leave theaters scratching their heads, most understood. But Seal Beach resident William Korthof found the movie too predictable.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I got the movie better than I got the show when I watched it. The whole point of science fiction is you shouldn’t know where it’s going.”

Barbara Barker of Garden Grove understood the movie “pretty well.” Then again, she studied. “I bought the books, and I’ve been reading all the stories about it.”

X-Phile Chris Hubbs of Orange said the film struck a good balance for fan and newcomer.

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“It’s a really good story,” he said. “They kept it pretty tight. It let everybody know what the main story behind ‘The X-Files’ was without going into too much detail.”

John Delarosa, however, was bored by the necessary explanations. “The series has much more depth and focus,” the La Habra man said. “The movie had to cover too much.”

That’s not what Bob Guthrie of Long Beach thought: He felt the movie did too little.

“It was all right, but I kind of hoped for a little more,” Guthrie said after leaving a 4:45 p.m. screening at the Marina Pacifica theaters in Long Beach. “It’s pretty much like the regular program on TV. It’s the same story line . . . they think they’ve got it, then they don’t. It was OK. I just don’t know if I’d recommend it for the long lines this weekend.”

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Other complaints: The movie revealed too much--and too little.

“I think [Carter] is painting himself in a corner,” Focht said. “He’s overly restricted his plot line now. Someone this morning was talking about how sophisticated it was. I don’t know if I’d go along with that.”

“I thought it was good,” said his wife, Pamela. “My husband doesn’t like anything.”

John Bryant expected revelations of another kind.

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“Gillian Anderson was not naked nearly enough,” said the Irvine resident, unsatisfied with just a glimpse of Anderson’s bare shoulder (the movie is rated PG-13). “I was led to believe there was much more nudity.”

Meanwhile, X-Philes waiting in line for an evening showing giddily dismissed any debate. Several hard-core fans showed up for a Friday-night showing two hours early--the only sure way to secure the middle seats in the middle row of the theater.

“This is going to be the most phenomenal motion-picture event of the entire year,” said Lakeview’s Shawn Michael Kirkbride, a bookstore manager who left work early to be first in line. “ ‘Mulan’s’ going to be great--whatever. ‘Armageddon’s’ not even going to touch it. Nothing’s going to top this. Nothing. It has so much emotional value. This is mind and soul.”

“Only if you’re loyal,” cheered Emillie Juarez of Long Beach, second in line.

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“This is once in a lifetime,” Kirkbride continued.

“Only if you’re loyal,” Juarez repeated.

“Yep,” Kirkbride agreed. “For those who understand.”

“That’s right,” Juarez said. “If you don’t get it, stay at home.”

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