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The first rule of this review - There is no Fight Club
Fight Club (DVD)
Member Name: Jojoborne
Fight Club (DVD)
Date: 02/03/12, updated on 10/03/12 (76 review reads)
Advantages: Great acting. great script. Great direction.
Disadvantages: Not for kids. Don't leave your copy lying around the house if you have young children.
DVD and Movie review. This review contains a spoiler, which is clearly marked. Please feel free to skip that part if you wish.
The reason I chose to review fight Club is the fact that I got attacked by four males a few weeksago, after they tried to steal my dog. Walking home covered in blood and people asking me about how I got my yellow, blue and black bruises over the next few days reminded me of the book and movie. I'm fully recovered now, so here goes.
Film and DVD Review
As a collector of Edward Norton movies, Fight Club is naturally a favourite choice of mine when it comes to what I consider to be a good film. Norton is my favourite actor and has been for a number of years. His performance in Fight Club was a defining one.
Ed Norton plays the part of the narrator and main character, who leads a mundane and melancholy existence. We shall call him Jack, although, officially he is not named. On most forums and reviews he is referred to as Jack due to a line he speaks in the movie, but his name isn't Jack.
He is stuck in somewhat of a rut both at work and in his personal life. He has trouble sleeping and his world is spiraling into one of doom and despair. His typical day consists of looking over car wrecks for an insurance company while dreaming about the next piece of Ikeaesque future he can place in his near perfect, OCD fueled apartment. Everything in Jack's life is bland and unappealing.
Then he meets Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt), an assured and outspoken soap salesman, while taking a work related flight. As part of his own therapy Jack visits numerous groups, most of which he does not suffer from the ailment or problem that the group discusses. Tyler Durden does not believe in these groups and he gets into a fight with Jack in a car park outside a bar after a few drinks. He does not believe in materialism and shuns the life of a regular guy. He believes that you are not the money in the bank or the white picket fence or the job you hold down. They are all things that are irrelevant to Tyler. They realise that the pain they experience and the high they achieve from the fight should be experienced by everyone. Their pain makes them feel alive.
They start their own underground fight club and stage brutal fights between members of the club. They establish certain rules and soon gain a cult following with fight clubs popping up all over the US.
Tyler starts to dominate jack and garners more sway with the group. When things start to get serious, Jack realises that he must put a stop to Fight Club. Tyler arranges groups to go out on the streets and wreak havoc, which ranges from petty theft and violence to crimes of a more serious nature. Tyler begins to plot against the government and plans the bombing of buildings and major businesses. Fight Club has been replaced by 'Project Mayhem' and anything that represents or stands for order is a target. Society as a whole is a target. It all spirals out of control and Jack knows he must stop Tyler, but it won't be that easy.
The answer that faces Jack will change him forever.
The first rule of Fight Club is 'You don't talk about Fight Club. The second rule is 'You don't talk about Fight Club'.
The Cast and characters
As I mentioned at the start of this review, Edward Norton plays the lead role as 'Jack' and boy does he play it well. He captures the depressive, morose disposition of Jack perfectly and turns the performance up a notch as the character becomes embroiled, literally, in the organizing and running of Fight Club. Norton displays the diversity he gave us in his first movie 'Primal Fear' and the grit and toughness of his performance in 'American History X'. A superb all round actor.
Brad Pitt plays the role of Tyler Durden, the charismatic soap salesman. Pitt has worked with this director before and they have a good understanding and working relationship, which is evident from Pitt's performance and screen presence. Pitt gets bad press sometimes, a little like Tom Cruise used to, for being a 'pretty boy' and maybe landing roles because of his looks. Make no bones about it; Brad Pitt is an excellent actor and a very versatile one, able to turn his art into whatever the role demands of it. He plays the, sometimes, vile Tyler Durden to perfection. I can't think of anyone who could've played this role this well.
Helena Bonham Carter plays the role of Marla Singer who attends self-help groups as Jack does, without necessarily suffering from the group ailment, illness or addiction. Her drab, sarcastic demeanor is the perfect supporting role for Norton and her dead pan deliveries are believable and darkly comic. Bonham Carter plays the role really well and you really get the sense of dread that surrounds her like a soaking wet, stinking blanket.
Meatloaf plays the role of Robert 'Bob' Paulson. I'll never forget the first time I saw Ed Norton with his face buried in Meatloaf's fake breasts. I don't think Ed Norton will either. Meat had to endure a lot sweating and weight to walk around in the fat suit that was specially made for him. He plays the role really well and is also, like everyone else in the movie, very believable.
Jared Leto appears in one of his first roles as 'Angelface', a blond pretty boy who gets absolutely smashed and hammered by Ed Norton in one of the movies more brutal and questionable moments. A lot of controversy surrounded the movie as a result of this scene but in my opinion it is not gratuitous and shows us just how far Jack has been consumed by his own demons.
David Fincher directed Fight Club and did an amazing job. He had a vision that he had in mind for the movie after reading chuck Palahniuk's novel of the same name.
Fincher had numerous run-ins with Fox Productions over several lines of dialogue in the movie. In one original scene, Helen Bonham Carter's character, Marla lies in bed after sex and says 'I want to have your abortion'. Fox were not happy with this, especially their female boss. Fincher said he would change the line under the condition that no matter what happened the replacement line could not be changed.
Fox, reluctantly, agreed. Fincher changed the line to 'I haven't been fucked like that since grade school', which as you can imagine didn't go down too well either, but it was left in the final cut of the movie.
Fincher is a stickler for detail and likes to have everything just right. Some scenes took over fifty takes. He used of fifteen hundred reels of film. An average two hour movie uses roughly four hundred and fifty reels.
Fincher also directed 'Seven', another great movie also starring Brad Pitt. Like Seven, Fight Club is a dark movie and not just because of its drab and sometimes depressive subject matter. It has a certain graininess to it that fits the scenes well and brings a raw ambience to the movie and an edgy feeling that draws you into each scene. And makes you want to scream at the same time. You almost feel Norton's angst on a feral level which makes this feel totally absorbing.
Fincher used a number of subliminal shots in the movie alluding to the craze that swept through movies in the late seventies and early eighties. One such shot at the films credits would cause some controversy and earn the movie even more notoriety and press time. I will go into further detail on this further on in the review.
Fincher worked closely with writer Jim Uhls and the script was shifted and changed on numerous occasions until they felt it was right.
There are a number of subliminal shots throughout the movie and if you are familiar with these then you know that the adage 'blink and you miss it' has never been more appropriate. At the end of the movie, on the credits, one of the sublims is a penis. It alludes to the penis that Tyler splices into the movie in his job as a movie projector. This did not go down well with the big wigs and the powers that be at fox and presumably the BBFC. But there it remains, possibly because as they watched the movie they all blinked at that precise moment. The use of subliminal shots is not new by any means but there use in Fight Club doesn't add or take away anything from a brilliantly made piece of art.
Comparisons with the book
Chuck Palahniuk's 1996 novel was successful enough but became a best seller after the movie was released.
Palahniuk, suffered, as I did, at the hands of buffoons who thought it would be good to beat the crap out of him. When his work colleagues asked him what had happened he declined, leaving an air of mystery hanging in the office. This prompted him to write Fight Club and the reason for this same scene with Norton's character in his works office.
One of the books chapters was an original short story after toying with the idea. It appeared in a short story compilation and was later used when Palahniuk adapted the story into a tale of novel length.
For me books will always be better than movies even though I am a movie buff who used to own a video shop. There is so much more scope in books to get into the minds of the characters. Maybe that's the future; reading with visually implanted images to run alongside the book. You saw it here first!
The DVD Bonus material
The special edition DVD which I own is one of my favourite DVD's and I go back to it from time to time. There are two disks, chock full of bonuses.
Disk one is the commentary disk. I love this and have watched the movie fully with the commentary on. The commentary is attended by David Fincher, Ed Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter. It really gives you an insight into the movie and helps give you a better understanding of the plot and Fincher's vision. Some of the on-set tales are kind of cool to hear as well; such as Norton and Pitt filming the golf scene, where they shoot golf balls into abandoned factory buildings. This was apparently filmed while they were drunk or to use their specific words 'loaded'. The cast and director are so complimentary of each other and you clearly feel that they have a special bond and friendship from making this movie that will last for years to come; hopefully in the form of more collaboration. If you're a fan of Fight Club then you simply have to watch the movie with the commentary on.
Here you will find a making-of, behind-the-scenes documentary. There is also commentary available for this. You can also watch it at multiple camera angles, which is another great insight into the making of a movie and how the process works.
You also get lots of deleted and alternate scenes. There is also a great outtakes blooper reel.
The disk also contains a publicity gallery, story boards and concept art. This really gives you an idea of the movie from original concept to finished article.
You also get an Edward Norton interview, all the movie trailers and interview/internet spots and cast and crew biographies. All in all a brilliant bonus features DVD.
I would recommend this DVD to any movie lover or fan of the movie/book.
Inspirations and the real Fight Clubs
Many fans have written to Fincher and Palahniuk to express their feelings about what this movie and book meant to them on different levels. The movie has a massive cult following, which I'm sure the anti-materialistic Tyler Durden would absolutely disapprove of.
Real Fight Clubs have sprung up all over the world and some have boasted that they were in operation long before the book was written or the movie was made. This has never been proved or discredited.
Restaurant goers all over the world are oblivious to the waiters who are fans or even disciples of this book and movies, who are doing God knows what in peoples food.
Fight Club has inspired people to change direction in life. It has inspired would-be writers and film makers from all walks of life. Surely that must stand for something.
Favourite quotes from the movie
Tyler to Narrator - Hey, you created me. I didn't create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better. Take some responsibility!
Tyler Durden - All right, if the applicant is young, tell him he's too young. Old, too old. Fat, too fat. If the applicant then waits for three days without food, shelter, or encouragement he may then enter and begin his training.
Narrator - Tyler, what the fuck is going on here?
Tyler - I ask you for one thing, one simple thing.
Narrator - Why do people think that I'm you? Answer me!
Tyler - Sit.
N - Now answer me, why do people think that I'm you.
Tyler - I think you know.
N - No, I don't.
Tyler - Yes, you do. Why would anyone possibly confuse you with me?
N - Uh... I... I don't know.
[Narrator experiences flashbacks]
Tyler - You got it.
N - No.
Tyler - Say it.
N - Because...
Tyler - Say it.
N - Because we're the same person.
Tyler - That's right.
Tyler Durden - Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.
Tyler Durden - You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
Tyler Durden - Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Third rule of Fight Club: someone yells "stop!", goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: No shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Fight Club, you have to fight.
Narrator - A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
After being released twelve years ago Fight Club is still a fine movie to watch and has a massive fan base. I would personally give it five stars out of five and recommend it to any movie aficionado. Sadly not everyone gets the movie's personal message but that is what makes it so intriguing and enduring. One of the top movies of the last twenty five years and a classic.
Many people will find this review too long but if I had shortened it I would have considered it nothing less than sacrilegious. Like I have always said a review is something that contains someone's views, opinions and feelings on a product so there is no determined length.
Summary: A journey into the psychology of angst.