R Dir: David Fincher | Twentieth Century Fox | 139 min.
Plot: What’s it about?
The narrator of this story (Ed Norton) is going through a troubled time in his life, where nothing seems to make him happy, aside from buying furniture and other useless junk from catalogs. He works as an inspector for a car company, where he decides if the cost of pending lawsuits due to lethally inferior workmanship is less or greater than a product recall, and makes a decision on what to do. He makes more than enough money, he travels quite a bit, and he has a very nice apartment, with a yin yang coffee table. But all is not well with this man, he hasn’t slept in weeks and his doctor tells him there’s nothing he can do for him. In order to find personal connections he begins attending cancer support group meetings, and soon finds himself addicted to support groups, but at least he can sleep for a change. But that all changes when he sees Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) at all the meetings, and discovers he isn’t the only one who needs that connection. He strikes a deal with her to split the meetings, but it just isn’t the same anymore. Soon after, he meets someone on a plane that will forever change his life, Tyler Durden.
Tyler is a soap salesman, he makes and sells his own soap. The two have a brief conversation and exchange business cards, and part ways when the plane lands. But when our narrator returns home, he finds that his apartment has been destroyed by fire, and all his belongings burned to ashes. He has two choices on who to call, Marla or Tyler, and he chooses Marla first. But when she picks up, he hangs up on her and dials Tyler, who doesn’t pick up, but returns the call. The two meet and discuss things, and right before they part ways, Tyler encourages our narrator to move in with him, but on one condition. That condition is that he must hit Tyler as hard as he can. While he is skeptical at first, he does and the two discover that they feel alive after their fight, and decide to do it more often. Soon, others see them and decide to join and before you know what’s cooking, it’s an underground movement, Fight Club. The club offers men a chance to feel alive again, and meanwhile Tyler and Marla have become quite close. With Tyler taking over the club and taking over Marla, our narrator finds himself in something he can’t control anymore. But will Tyler let him give up that easily?
When I think of good movies, I can name numerous titles of films I like and think are good. But when I think of elite films, there just isn’t that many titles to name. I believe Fight Club is a film of elite status, everything about it speaks to me and was enthralled from opening to close. The characters, the storyline, the visuals, everything about this movie just reaches out and grabs me, and won’t let go, even after the end credits have rolled by. The visuals are nothing short of innovative and powerful, I can’t imagine how this film didn’t walk away with the visual effects and production design Oscars. I think this is perhaps the most visually stunning movie I have ever seen, it never ceases to have layer of layer of things your eyes wander to. The visual effects are explored in depth on this disc, so make sure you check that section out. In the name of all that is good, you have to see this movie, it is one of the must see movies out there right now. The approach and subject matter might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but anyone who is a film buff has to see this film. And as far as this edition of the film, it deserves a place in every collector’s collection, standing as the finest treatment yet for a film.
This film was directed by David Fincher, who seems to be the perfect director for the project. I don’t think Fincher is one of the best overall directors in the business, since his range is limited to darker films, but when it comes to his specialty, he is one of the finest. Fincher leans toward darkness in his films, both in visual style and subject matter. Take his feature film debut Alien 3, which stands out in the series as by far the darkest and most disturbing installment. It is not the most favored in the series for most, but it has a distinct personality and is a shocking contrast to the other entries in the series. While his work on Alien 3 drew more criticism that credit, his next film would thrust him into fame and recognition. That film, Seven, did push him into the big leagues, but I feel it is his most commercial and flawed effort, including Alien 3. Seven seems aimed at the young teen crowd and is much lighter than Fincher’s other works, but I suppose whatever helped to keep him in business is cool by me, but I do feel Seven is his weakest and most commercial film.
Fincher then followed up the successful Seven with the dark thriller, The Game, which returned his work to the darker, less commercial area. The Game was a solid and thrilling film, but it left me wanting more from Fincher. After years of directing commercials and music videos, Fincher has truly become an elite director now, thanks to his incredible work on this film, Fight Club. I was skeptical to say the least on what Fincher could do with this movie, given the excellent and complex novel the film was based on. But Fincher has proven himself to me and the film business with this movie, and I have to admit it now ranks as one of my all time favorites, and one of the finest directorial turns I’ve seen. This marks Fincher’s best effort to date, and I have serious doubts if he can top this movie. While that might prove difficult to do, I certainly hope he can do it, and I look forward to Fincher’s future projects.
As I mentioned above, this film is based on a fantastic novel, which was written by Chuck Palahniuk. The novel is very gripping, with a unique concept and enthralling style, and I recommend you check it out, especially if you like the movie. If possible, read the novel first, but I realize it’ll be hard to wait to pop this sucker in! The novel is very deep and complex, and I had serious doubts on how well it would translate to the silver screen. I also wondered if it was possible to keep the frenetic tone and layers of detail the novel contained, without changing the story around much. The task of writing the screenplay for this film was given to Jim Uhls, who I must say has done a wonderful job of making the novel work as a movie. As always, some things are lost in the move, but overall the film captures the essence of the novel quite well.
The cast of this film is very large, but the film revolves around two main characters, which are played by Ed Norton Brad Pitt. While Pitt has a pretty reputation, after his turns in Seven and Twelve Monkeys, he seems to have a very good handle on less than glamorous roles. While he is usually believable as Tyler, sometimes you can’t help but remember who he is, and lose faith in the film for a bit, but if you focus on the character, you won’t have to worry about it. Pitt (Kalifornia, Meet Joe Black) plays the enigmatic Tyler with the perfect blend of energy, insanity, and hidden depression, and I feel this is his strongest work so far in his career. He still has some ground to cover before he’ll win me over as a fan, but I did enjoy his performance here. The more docile character is played by Ed Norton, who shows more promise as an actor than anyone in recent memory. It’s almost scary how good this guy is, and I can see many golden statuettes lining his mantelpiece in the future. Norton (American History X, Primal Fear) is incredible here, with such a restrained performance, yet one filled with power and emotion. The two also work together very well, and the chemistry shows, especially in the dialogue driven scenes.
The supporting cast of Fight Club is also excellent, and flesh out the world inside the movie well. The main supporting player is Helena Bonham Carter, who I never imagined in a role like this. Best know for her work in English type dramas, such as Howard’s End, A Room With A View, A Merry War, and so on, she makes the transition to skank perfectly. Her appearance and character are vastly different from anything she’s done before, but she pulls it off well, and her strong skills shine through. Some of the other better supporting roles are played by Jared Leto (The Thin Red Line, Urban Legend), Zach Grenier (Tommy Boy, Drunks), and Rachel Singer (The Green Mile, Bull Durham). While the roles these actors played were smaller parts, they were vital to the film, and were played with skill and energy. While all those above actors did a fine job, the real show stealer has to be Meat Loaf Aday as Robert Paulson, who is stricken with “bitch tits,” but still manages to fight. This guy is great here, and I hope he keeps appearing in movies in the future.
Video: How does it look?
“Fight Club” has a rather unique look on screen and let’s just say that director David Fincher isn’t afraid of the color black. This is perhaps the polar opposite of a Pixar movie in which every color of the rainbow appears on screen. No, this is as dark as they come and you know what – it looks beautiful. Some scenes are gritty, some overexposed, some underexposed but all have the detail that Blu-ray is known for and I was hard-pressed to find many, if any errors. A few of the scenes are on the softer side, but with this film you never know what’s real and what’s being shoved in your face (the credits run in reverse, for crying out loud). Still, Fox’s 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is right up there with the best of them and there’s only a handful of scenes prohibiting me from awarding it a perfect score.
Audio: How does it sound?
People often ask me “What’s your favorite DVD?” to which I respond “My favorite DVD or my favorite movie?” Yes, I know, everyone loves a question answered with a question don’t they? Still, when it comes to my favorite piece of audio from my DVD (now Blu-ray) library, it begins and ends with the plane collision sequence in this film. Now this sounded good in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX a decade ago. My receiver has changed but my speakers haven’t. So the first thing I did was skip to the chapter where this sequence was. Wow. Amazing. I though my apartment building was going to crumble. I turned the receiver up to where I usually hold it and let ‘er rip. Have I said “Wow. Amazing.” yet? Ok, I have. This really is one of the best audio mixes on disc and if you’ve never heard “Fight Club” in uncompressed sound then this is something you must do before you die. Once you get past the “Booms” and “Thuds” the remainder of the dialogue sounds very warm and uncompromising – essentially everything you’d expect from this movie. Quite simply put, this is the best all-around example of sound on a movie that I own.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Having “Fight Club” on Blu-ray is both good and bad. The good is that “Fight Club” is on Blu-ray and that all of the supplements from the original DVD are intact (albeit a bit dated now). The bad, if there is any, is that there are very few new supplements, though one is quite cool and is a Blu-ray only exclusive. First off, the new stuff – “A Hit in the Ear: Ren Klyce and the Sound Design of ‘Fight Club'” we get an introduction by Ren Klyce as he tells us of his experience on the film coupled with Fincher’s deprecating remarks which “help you work better”. But the real cool feature isn’t how the audio was manufactured, but you get to test it in a few of the scenes and even crank up the audio in each channel. Sweet. Next up is “Flogging Fight Club” which is a behind the scenes (and live presentation) of Spike TV’s award for “Fight Club”. Mel Gibson is the presenter who arrives on horse back, yes, really. Finally the really cool feature is called “Insomniac Mode” in which you can do a topic search which returns a list of results. Select something from the list and you’ll be taken to that point in the film. You can also select “Commentary Guide” which allows you to view the topics discussed in one of the four commentary tracks. Words cannot describe how cool these features are. That’s all that’s new, below is what else is on the disc.
There are four, count ’em, four audio commentary tracks. Below is a brief synopsis of what to expect from each of these alternate audio tracks.
1. This track features director David Fincher running solo, is the most technical of the tracks. While I expected more energy from him, I still found the track to be filled with information and anecdotes. The silence gaps are pretty rare, one of the better one man commentaries I’ve heard. My only complaint is that Fincher seems unemotional and non energetic about the film, but this is still a packed track.
2. This is a joint commentary with Fincher and actors Pitt and Norton, with Helena Bonham Carter popping in from time to time. The three guys were recorded together, but Bonham Carter was edited in, so her comments don’t always mesh well with the others. This is the fun track, filled with humorous comments and jokes about the production. There is some information tacked on in places, but this one is mostly for kicks.
3. This track features the writers behind Fight Club, with novelist Chuck Palahniuk and screenplay writer Jim Uhls. This seemed like the most interesting track to me, but perhaps that’s the writer in me speaking. This one has several long gaps of silence, but when the two were speaking, they had some interesting things to say. To get both writers together for this track was a great idea, and I hope to see more writers on commentary tracks in the future.
4. This is a production commentary, featuring several crew members whose comments are edited together for one big presentation. This track is very hard to follow, and I found it to be the least informative and entertaining of all four tracks. There is some good stuff to be found here, so if you’re a completist give this one a spin.
We then move on to five further sections:
This section contains well designed biographies for eighteen members of the cast and crew, including the writers, producers, and musical talent. This is how talent files should be done, and I hope other releases mirror this type of extensive cast and crew information in the future. From the two leads to the costume designer, all the bases are covered in this section.
This is a behind the scenes area, where the content is divided into three sections. Below I have broken down the content within each.
1. Production- This section contains six sequences, each with alternate video angles and audio tracks.
- Alternate Main Titles- You can view the main titles in four different forms, textless, incomplete preview version, alternate font style 1, and alternate font style 2. Two audio tracks are also available, as well the as finished version of the main titles.
- Airport- This offers the chance to view the location scout for this scene, as well as the principle photography involved. A split screen option is also available. The audio for both is also available, and you switch between the two audio and video as you like. Storyboards are also included for this sequence.
- Jack’s Condo- You can video from the location scout or principle photography with this sequence, and audio for the location scout is available. You can also view both scenes in a split screen option. If you choose the audio for principle photography, you’ll hear commentary from David Fincher. The storyboards are also included for this section.
- Paper Street House- Video options include principle photography and preproduction, where the crew is designing and building the house. You can also view a split screen of both, if you so choose. Audio options include the location scout and principle photography.
- Projection Booth- Video options include principle photography, location scout, or a split screen of both. Audio options include location scout and principle photography. You can also view the storyboards for this scene.
- Corporate Art Ball- This sequence can be viewed as location scout/principle photography images, pre-visualization/raw footage/digital effects footage, or a split screen of both. Audio from the location scout/principle photography can be used, or commentary from effects guys Kevin Haug and Cliff Wenger. You can also check out the storyboards for this scene.
2. Visual Effects- This section looks at the different approaches and techniques used for the film’s more impressive visual effects. Here you will detailed insight into how eight of the visual effects scenes came into being, with storyboards and alternate audio tracks available for most of them. The scenes covered are the main titles, the sequence where the apartment becomes a 3-D catalog, the ice cave sequences, the apartment explosion, the place crash, the unique sex scene, the car wreck scene, the gun shot sequence, and the high rise collapse. If you have any questions about these scenes, this section will hold the answer to them. You’ll see the scenes come together, from early computer graphic shots, to in progress work, to the finished product, very cool stuff.
3. On Location- This is a five and a half minute featurette with some interesting behind the scenes footage. This piece is very short, but packs in some comments from Fincher, some make up shots, and some unique production footage. I long for a deeper making of, but this disc has enough bonus materials to make up for this brief piece.
This area contains seven deleted sequences, with description as to why the scenes were removed. Each of the deleted scenes also includes the original, for comparison’s sake. These scenes include an encounter with Chloe after a support group meeting, an alternate take of the fight with Angel Face, a voice over difference during the board meeting, deleted bookends to the fight with the boss, an alternate take on Tyler’s good-bye, an alternate take on the Fight Club paper found in the copier, and of course, the infamous “I want to have you abortion” line.
This section is filled with promotional stuff, everything you could want to see about how this film was marketed. You get the theatrical trailer and teaser trailer, as well as an unused “The Eight Rules Of Fight Club” piece that was finished just for this disc. This release also contains twelve U.S. television spots, three Spanish television pieces, and two international spots. Two public service announcements are found here as well, one with each of the main characters, funny stuff indeed. An awesome music video featuring some of Tyler’s best lines is also found here, along five internet promotional pieces. A transcript of Ed Norton speaking about Fight Club is also included, along with an extensive gallery of posters, lobby cards, and other advertising pieces. There is also a hidden feature here that shows some Fight Club merchandise.
This area is filled with artwork from the production of the film. Below the content is broken down by divisions.
1. Storyboards- This section contains all two hundred and thirty storyboards that were created for this production. It’s very easy to browse them as well, and I recommend taking a look through them when you have time.
2. Visual Effect Stills- This shows a gallery of still photos from the visual effects team, mostly of the head used in the gun shot scene. There are also several on set photos, including some of the ice cave location.
3. Paper Street House- This is a terrific series of photos of the house used in the film. This is a great inclusion, and really shows the level of detail to be found within the house and the movie as well. A few storyboard to film comparisons are included here also. You can watch as the house is built from the ground up, and then see it comes to life, very cool.
4. Costumes and Make Up- This shows various sketches dealing with what the title implies, as well as some cool before and after fights drawings of some characters. Even sketches of gun shot wounds and the chemical burn are shown here, awesome!
5. Brain Ride Map- This section has a wealth of drawings concerning this sequence, so you see how the early sketches and descriptions compare to the finished product. Text descriptions are also included, so you’ll know every inch of the brain ride before it’s all said and done.
6. Preproduction Paintings- This shows a large gallery of concept paintings for many scenes, zooming in on details for many of the paintings.
- (1.33:1) Aspect Ratio
- Video Codec: AVC
- Audio: DTS HD Master
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scene(s)
- Digital Copy
- 1 Disc Set