Take Fight Club at its core, a film about a man who hits himself in a bar parking lot. It is ridiculous, played for laughs and some extreme violence, if not much else.
Without knowledge of its twist ending, Fight Club is even less involving. Watching it again for its 10th anniversary, knowing who Tyler Durden really is, may let you appreciate the fantastic interaction between Pitt and Norton further, but not for this story.
This is a bizarre film, necessary since it is told from the viewpoint of a mentally sick individual. Talking penguins, odd digitally altered sex scenes, and Meatloaf with boobs are the order of the day. There are generally funny, darkly comedic moments.
Edward Norton is a recall analyzer, a job that requires him to view wrecked cars while his associates laugh at the skin still stuck to the seats. Combined with a case of insomnia, his mind begins spinning from the opening frames.
To be fair, Fight Club is brilliant in how well its secret is hidden and executed. Brief flashes before Tyler Durden’s appearance are the first clue, along with subtle developments later that seem like important character traits. In repeat viewings, it does (mostly) hold up with only a few questionable points, especially the car accident which makes you wonder why no one in the backseat brings this conversation into question.
Fight Club supposedly contains countless pieces of symbolism, yet none are particularly clear. Looking around online showcases a mess of theories and thoughts, yet nothing is terribly concrete, certainly a failure of the film itself. Is it against society, commercialism, lack of freedoms, or violence (or all them combined)?
No one seems to know, and you can take the material as you wish, but if you’re trying to make a statement, you should probably offer some focus to lead your viewers in the proper direction. Materialism/commercialism are the strongest, but other seep in as well. It seems people have added meaning to the movie to legitimize it somehow, giving their own views merit.
That leaves Fight Club as a shell of a film, one about a sick man tired of the daily grind. He fights, it’s violent, we watch. Maybe that says something.
A phenomenal AVC encode greets viewers from the opening live action frames, a stunningly rendered and crisp effort. Detail is remarkable, capturing well-defined beads of sweat, blood, and pores. These are mostly maintained even in the dim lighting of the basements where the fights take place with few moments of softness. Deep black levels are flawless at capturing depth, and remain steady throughout.
Flesh tones are accurate, and the grim color palette is still admirably held true. Film grain is maintained without manipulation, rarely becoming noisy or distracting. A very brief moment of ringing comes and goes, easily passed over unless you’re specifically watching for it.
Aside from some notable balancing issues (the plane collision and car wreck are mixed absurdly loud), this is a wonderfully atmospheric mix, possibly one of the best of the year in terms of immersion. Every location is lively, from the city streets which feature cars and sirens in all channels, to the rundown, abandoned house capturing fantastic echoes.
Stereo channels are separated cleanly, and the pulsing soundtrack lights up the low-end. Likewise, explosions are beefy, the above-mentioned plane crash powerful enough to wreck a home’s foundation if loud enough.
There comes a point where you have to be a true fan to slog through extras like this, but Fight Club is the type of film that has fans die-hard enough to sit through four different commentaries. David Fincher leads the first solo, joined by Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter for the second. Track number three is led by book Author Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls, while the the fourth comes from director of photography Jeff Cronenweth, costume designer Michael Kaplan, production designer Alex McDowell, visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug, and editor Doc Bailey.
A Hit in the Ear is the first extra outside of the chatting, with audio designer Ren Klyce introducing the piece extensively, discussing the unique audio methods. Then, users can breakdown the audio in a few key scenes to see how it was put together. Flogging Fight Club is a 10-minute clip from the 2009 Guy’s Choice Awards in which Norton, Pitt, and Fincher thrash on critics who hated the film (sorry).
“Insomniac Mode” acts as an appendix to the world of Fight Club, taking viewers to specific things in the film, or offering different information during the commentaries as the speakers bring them up. The “behind the scenes” sections offers additional content, from fly-on-the-wall footage, different angles, storyboards, or further commentary. Eight deleted and alternate scenes are followed by trailers, promos, and an art gallery.