Fight Club DVD

Tyler Durden, the protagonist of David Fincher’s “Fight Club,” tells his new friend Jack that he can’t know anything about himself unless he has been in a fight. Not just an angry exchange of words, but a drag out, knock down connection of bare fist and flesh.


fightclubcoverI’ve been lucky enough in my life to have only been in one fight. It wasn’t really a fight. It took place in the second grade after school. Some girl I had offended (I can’t remember the details) wanted to kick my ass, but I wasn’t really interested.

That didn’t matter to the group of classmates who had gathered. They wanted to see a fight. I was taught by my parents never to hit a girl, so I tried to avoid the confrontation. She was bound and determined, so no matter what I did, she was there in my face.

I let her take a hit, which landed square on my jaw. Here I was, taking abuse from a girl and helpless to do anything about it. My first instinct was to deck her, sending her pounding to the pavement. That didn’t happen. I took the abuse, and felt totally emasculated.

That is how Edward Norton’s character feels in “Fight Club.” Jack feels lost and abandoned, stripped of his masculinity by years of false promises from the media and mom. He’s trapped in a dead-end job that treats people’s suffering like a math equation, and as a result, finds himself detached from reality.

Jack is the narrator of “Fight Club,” a tough, gritty, almost ethereal exploration of one man’s reckoning in a world that frowns on such revelations. Jack is wound so tight that he can’t sleep. He finds comfort in other people’s suffering, and ends up attending numerous support groups to feed his habit.

Like Lester in “American Beauty,” Jack doesn’t feel alive. He’s just going through the motions. Then he meets Tyler Durden on a plane and his life is forever changed. Tyler becomes the light at the end of the tunnel for Jack, who sees his new friend as his last chance to regain his self respect and dignity.

Tyler is willing to do and say the things that Jack only dare to think, and like a moth attracted to a bright light, Jack finds himself fluttering towards Tyler.

They’re a match made in hell, and once the match has been lit, the only thing left to do is set the town on fire, literally. Jack finds Tyler fascinating because he’s free. He comes with no string attached. What you see is what you get, and for Jack, that means trouble.

There is a lot of anger on display in “Fight Club,” which has been written for the screen by newcomer Jim Uhls, and is based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. As directed by Fincher, possibly one of Hollywood’s most visually arresting directors, “Fight Club” emerges as a violent diatribe against the stripping down of the male ego.

You not only understand Jack’s feelings of desperation, you accept his final solution, even if you don’t agree with it. Jack’s journey back from the abyss begins when he and Tyler begin an underground club for bare fisted fighters. At first they meet weekly in the basement of a local bar, but as their legion grows, it becomes a nightly event.

The participants, who have been sworn to secrecy, discover that being beat to a pulp and near death actually makes them feel more alive. They rediscover their primal urges, and as a result, become men for the first time in their lives.

Eager to vent their collective anger into something productive, Tyler and Jack take the “Fight Club” national, and begin recruiting an army of trained fighters who are loyal to the cause.

What started off as a trip to the testosterone well turns into a flood of anger as the “Fight Club” participants take their cause public, creating chaos. Some of their actions are nothing more than organized vandalism, but when things get crazy, Jack begins to worry.

He suspects that Tyler is out of control, but has a hard time convincing anyone. Now Jack finds himself sitting on a bomb that will blow up in his face unless he comes to his senses.

Fincher does an excellent job of conveying Jack’s dilemma. He perfectly captures the deluge of consumerism that almost drowns Jack, and even though he bathes every scene in a dreamlike glow, the film remains a jolt to the senses. “Fight Club” looks marvelous, largely thanks to Jeff Cronenweth’s stylized cinematography.

I’ve never been a big Brad Pitt fan, but whenever he and director Fincher get together, Pitt actually busts his acting chops. He was dynamic in Fincher’s “Seven,” and is even better in “Fight Club.” Pitt delivers a performance that suggests much more than just the written word. There is conviction and attitude in his performance.

Norton once again delivers a performance that gets beneath the skin. Since his debut in “Primal Fear,” Norton has displayed the ability to create characters that seem familiar but are full of surprises. His Jack is a real enigma. Even though Norton nails the character, we never feel like we do. His character is like that square peg some smart aleck manages to fit into the round hole.

Wearing a fright wig that suggests a lack of self respect, Helena Bonham Carter is outstanding as the woman who comes between the two guys. Jack first meets Marla Singer (Carter) while making the rounds of his support groups. He hates that he isn’t the only “tourist” in the group. Even though he’s intrigued by Marla, Jack detests her. When she ends up sleeping with Tyler, Marla puts even more distance between them.

Like Jack, Fincher’s film is also an enigma. Here is a film that is brilliant on all accounts: outstanding writing and direction, emotionally moving performances and eye-popping visuals. Yet I find it hard to recommend.

“Fight Club” is filled with brutal, painful images of men beating each other into a bloody pulp. Women are treated with disdain, and as part of their initiation, the members of “Fight Club” are ordered to engage unsuspecting innocents in a fight.

As the film progresses, we are subjected to one neanderthal behavior after another. Within the context of the film these moments may seem edgy and daring, but also seem likely to inspire weak minded individuals to copy them. How long will it be before innocents are attacked on the street? One member of the club works in food service, and what he does to the soup will make you think twice about eating out again.

The film seems geared towards young males, the very animal who is likely to revel in the mayhem as opposed to understanding its irony. “Fight Club” tackles a lot of issues, some of which it deals with responsibly. It’s not a date movie, despite the presence of Pitt and Norton. I think women will take issue with the material, which basically blames them for turning men into little boys.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: 20/20

check.gif (406 bytes) 2.40:1 Widescreen

check.gif (406 bytes) 16×9 Enhanced

check.gif (406 bytes) RSDL

Digital transfer is totally up to the challenge of Fincher’s abstract vision, perfectly capturing the oddball moments without hesitation. The color scheme is all over the place, and yet everything looks in order. The colors are sharp and vibrant one moment, warm and fuzzy the next. No matter how bizarre or abstract the images look, the digital transfer holds steady. Flesh tones are superior to the point of being flattering, while earth tones are warm and inviting. Blacks are positively unstoppable, while whites and grays are clean thanks to a pristine master print. Depth of field is amazing, especially during the night scenes, while attention to detail is so precise you can make out faded wallpaper patterns. No noticeable artifacts or noise.

HEARING: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

check.gif (406 bytes) Dolby Digital EX 6.1 Surround

check.gif (406 bytes) Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English & French

Pump up the volume and piss of the neighbors, because the Dolby Digital 5.1 Soundtrack kicks butt. Finally, an audio track that is just as rambunctious as the action on the screen. The “Fight Club” DVD offers so many audio pleasures, it’s hard to choose the right one. For maximum assault, go with the 5.1 Dolby Digital, but plan to spend some time with the audio commentary tracks as well. The 5.1 will totally engulf you in the sound field, sucking the oxygen out of the room with powerful basses and surrounding you in a whirlpool of musical, ambient noise and dialogue cues. The dialogue mix is powerful stuff, cutting through the chaos with little effort. The front stage is alive with strong transitions that make good use of the left-to-right and front-to-rear stereo split. The transitions sound accurate, creating natural stereo that puts you in the movie. Rear speakers jump off the wall with pulsating stereo effects, while middle and high ends are so clean you can eat off them.

ORAL: Good

check.gif (406 bytes) Closed Captions in English for the Hard of Hearing

check.gif (406 bytes) Subtitles in Spanish

COORDINATION: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) Stupendous main and scene access menus (both discs) utilizing the theme of the film to the max. You’ll spend a lot of time going back and forth just to enjoy the effort that went into these impressive menus.

check.gif (406 bytes) Four full-length audio commentary tracks: (1) Director David Fincher (2) Fincher, actors Brad Pitt, Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter (3) Novelist Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls. (4) Production Designer Alex McDowell, Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth, costumer Michael Kaplan, Special Effects Supervisor Kevin Haug and animator Doc Bailey. I listened to track 2, featuring the director and stars. It’s rare to get Brad Pitt to open up, much less hang out for an entire audio commentary track He’s not overly talkative, but with friends and co-stars Norton and Carter on hand, it’s like a high school reunion. Fincher provides the theory and reason, the stars roll with the punches and explain the process of making the film. There’s a lot of good natured ribbing going on, especially when Pitt and Carter revisit the moment when her mother visited the set. It’s also interesting to hear stars discuss their work, it’s even more fun when they do so while watching the film. Their running commentary evokes unexpected memories, all of which make for engaging listening.

The second disc is a treasure chest of extras. To help guide fans through the goodies, they have been divided into five different sections:

CREW:

An extensive listing of the talent behind the film, including bios and filmographies

WORK:

Grab a cup of coffee and a Danish, because once you enter this section, you’re going to stay awhile. There is so much here that you could go through it and still miss something. The Work Section is divided into three sections, including Production, On Location and Visual Effects. These sections include the sort of extras that make owning a DVD player such a pleasure. There are numerous production featurettes, some with multi-camera function and alternate audio. This is where you can check out an alternate version of the opening credits, add different fonts and even an alternate musical score. And so it goes. You’ll learn how the film’s visual effects were created (including an extensive feature on the airplane crash), plus learn how the main set of the house was constructed. All in all, there are more than a dozen featurettes here, all of substantial length and some featuring commentary from the director.

MISSING:

Alternate or deleted scenes, including the notorious Helena Bonham Carter line “I Wanna have you abortion.” Fun stuff. Unlike some discs where the deleted or alternate scenes are in poor shape, the quality here is top notch. There are seven scenes in all, and all come with descriptions on why they didn’t make the final cut.

ADVERTISING:

If it played on theater screens, television, radio or in print, it’s here. A real mother lode of advertising materials, including three theatrical trailers, 17 television spots, two public service announcements featuring Pitt and Norton, a Dust Brothers music video of the theme, Internet spots, artwork including posters, lobby cards, photos, the press kit, plus a Norton interview.

ART:

The film’s original storyboards, production photos, production artwork. You will wear your finger out clicking through literally hundreds of images.

check.gif (406 bytes) A collectible booklet that goes behind the scenes of the film.

check.gif (406 bytes) The THX OptiMode feature that allows you to accurately adjust your home theater audio and video.

PROGNOSIS: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) The characters in “Fight Club” may be on the endangered species list, but the DVD will live on for a long time.

VITALS: $29.99/Rated R/139m/Color/36 Chapter Stops/Slipcase

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: FIGHT CLUB – COLLECTOR’S EDITION

BIRTH DATE: 1999

HMO: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



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