" You will go buy the Fight Club Special Edition DVD. "
Title: Fight Club: Special Edition DVD by 20th Century Fox
Format: Words Fail
Reviewing Monkey: Genghis Kong
The Hype: The critically-acclaimed psycho-philosophical cult classic recognized by the Internet Movie Database as #38 of the Top 250 Films (as voted by users), released as a two-disc, specially packaged DVD set with hours of extras and behind-the-scenes revelations. Is it worth a second look?
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Acting: Fight
Club is the story of a button-down desk jockey with insomnia who finds that
sitting in on the support group circuit allows him to sleep like a NyQuil junkie.
His fragile salvation is shattered by Marla Singer, a bored "tourist" who, like
our unnamed narrator (affectionately referred to as Jack by his fans, for reasons
revealed within the film but not within this review) is suffering from no particular
malady-her reasons for sitting in are sheer boredom. Jack's world is rocked
by Tyler Durden, an unorthodox soap maker who introduces Jack to his own personal
brand of nihilism and anti-consumerism, and teaches him some hard lessons about
self-discovery and the lies of society. Together they create Fight Club, an
underground boxing group created to give shiftless men of their generation a
chance to discover what they're truly made of in a non-judgmental atmosphere
of violence and pack bonding. There's more to this story, but I'm not going
to ruin the ending for you-that's right, all three of you who haven't seen it,
but really, really should.
The concept for this movie came from the novel by Chuck Palahniuk as his first effort in fiction, and was soon followed by other off-center novels such as "Invisible Monsters," "Survivor," and "Choke." The story and screenplay are brilliant, and the dialogue is not only profound but also imminently repeatable, spawning multitudes of catch phrases and one-liners which keep the audience captivated in viewing after viewing. It is a gripping, moving, incendiary film which strikes at the core of American values and begins gauging away like a fragmentation grenade stuck down the throat of civilization. While lambasted by close-minded reactionaries as "fascist" and "brutish," the vision presented by director David Fincher is nothing short of revolutionary, and the roots of its subject matter run deep.
As for acting, the central cast of this film is small, focusing primarily on the acting talents of lead character Edward Norton as the narrator "Jack," central figure Brad Pitt as the charismatic but dangerous Tyler Durden, and Helena Bonham Carter as Marla Singer, the slightly bent love/hate interest. Norton plays an incredible straight man to Pitt's wilder chevalier, the two creating an on-screen duo to rival any other favorite tag team of actors. The give and take of the dialogue flows perfectly with the frequent narration by Norton, who tells the story while it happens in flashback format. Carter's American accent is flawless, and she plays the part of the somewhat frazzled and quirky Marla to the hilt. Supporting actors Meat Loaf Aday and Jared Leto round out the cast, playing small but memorable roles as Bob (notable for his hormone-therapy-induced "bitch tits") and Angel, respectively. There is not a single member of the cast who isn't certain what he or she is there for at any point in the film, creating scenes and dynamics which are down pat and mesh flawlessly. 5 out of 5
Action: Unlike many other films in which fight scenes are central, Fight Club approaches filmed combat with a gritty, visceral reality presented painstakingly for the viewer in wince-inducing fist slaps and believable snaps and bumps being taken by the stars themselves. Action is frequent and varied, from the underground boxing matches referred to from the title to a brilliantly filmed car crash (shown from the inside of the car as well as out) to the fantastic scene in which Edward Norton pummels himself mercilessly in his boss' office, destroying glass tables and shelves and leaving the room a shambles. While not central to the theme of the movie (despite the title), the action scenes presented are raw and realistic, and worth a dozen rewinds so that not a single moment is missed. 5 out of 5.
Visuals and Directing: David Fincher is well-known for his dark, gritty style from such films as Alien 3, Seven, and The Game with idiosyncrasies of his personal style not only represented but shown to the Nth degree in Fight Club. Blackwashed lighting, a tendency to draw focus away from a character's eyes, takes numbering in the twenties and thirties to get a scene "just so," and sweeping camera arcs in a single cut all roll together to form an incredibly distinct style. Fight Club is worked so heavily throughout the film that the style's somewhat manic presentation seems normal to the viewer where it would be jarring in other films, with intermixed CGIs of the internal workings of a bomb and a drug-induced blur of a sex scene seeming completely normal and welcome despite the rather odd surface-level concept. A standard camera style follows the action from scene to scene but is interrupted by strange visuals and cut scenes throughout while the film makes use of subliminal images (especially in the first quarter of the movie) to foreshadow future events. Fincher's style is undeniably unique and watchable, and at times even beautiful-take a look at the scene in which Tyler explains his view of the world's future to Jack in an almost dreamlike state and you'll see what I mean. 5 out of 5.
DVD Extras: The Fight Club Special Edition
DVD set comes with two discs-the first being the feature film itself and a disc
of bonus material. The main disc, Mischief, contains the film (with chapter
selection), language and sound options (French language and Spanish subtitles
optional-on principle, I should mark them down for including French, but I won't),
and not one, not two, not three, but four versions of film commentary. The first
features director David Fincher all on his own. The second is David Fincher,
Brad Pitt, and Edward Norton giving commentary together with interspersed commentary
by Helena Bonham Carter that was recorded later. The third version is author
Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls giving their critique of the film's
transfer from the novel. The final version is Alex McDowell, Jeff Cronenweth,
Michael Kaplan, and Kevin Haug-these are the production designer, director of
photography, costume designer, and visual effects supervisor, respectively.
The first and last versions are of limited viewer interest, as David Fincher
has little to say on his own that doesn't sound better supplemented by Norton
and Pitt, and the four crew members have even less to say that anyone but a
film student would want to hear. The commentary by Fincher, Pitt, Norton, and
Carter is interesting and amusing, giving insight not only into the process
of the film but in the presentation itself and pointing out interesting details
that are missed even on the twelfth view of the film (and believe me, this monkey
in particular has seen the movie many times and missed at least a dozen little
tidbits pointed out by either Pitt or Norton). While sometimes cheesy or annoying
(especially in the case of Helena Bonham Carter's commentary, which is generally
ill-timed and centers almost entirely on her own character), the viewing of
the film through the eyes of the principle stars and the director adds a new
dimension to the experience, and demonstrates that everyone involved was not
only passionate about the project, but had read and loved the novel, understanding
it and taking it to heart in their portrayal. The writers' commentary produces
even more insight into the film, with Palahniuk pointing out differences between
his version and Fincher's, and Uhls showing the process of making the novel
into a film. As a monkey who has both read the novel and seen the film, I am
forced to agree with Chuck Palahniuk's decision that this is one of the few
films which truly surpasses the novel upon which it was based.
The supplemental bonus disc, Mayhem, is chock full of goodies even a DVD die-hard wouldn't expect. The standard Deleted Scenes section is present, with a handful of scenes cut for pacing or to please the censors. There are also rewritten scenes shown back-to-back with the scene used for contrast, and one and all you find yourself agreeing with Fincher's choice to alter them. While this monkey did indeed shed a tear for good dialogue which ended up on the cutting room floor, he understands that sometimes a filmmaker's got to do what a filmmaker's got to do. There is a Cast & Crew section which gives mini-bios on many of the actors and crew which are mildly informative but not much for those of us with short attention spans. The Behind the Scenes section is rigorously complete but hard to watch in its entirety, as it is-along with all behind the scenes segments-a bit dull. The Art Gallery is an unusual but interesting addition, showing design notes and storyboards used for the film and giving insight as to the hows and whys of the set designs and pacing. The real gem of the DVD, however, is the Advertising Material.
Theatrical Teasers and Trailers are only the tip of the iceberg for the Fight Club Special Edition DVD, which goes on to show every permutation of the TV spot trailers-not only for the US, but the International and Spanish-language versions, as well. It has the filmed Internet spots narrated by Edward Norton which truly do draw the viewer in, as well as two hilarious public service announcements-one by Jack, one by Tyler-in which we are informed of movie theatre rules along with the fact that "no one is allowed to touch you in your bathing suit areas" and the location of fire exits coupled with the knowledge that urine is sterile, which means you can drink it. The Fight Club Catalogue is also viewable in its entirety-a press release packet which shows clothing, furniture, and props from the film as purchasable items with amusing and incendiary product details. The discs are packed full of extras, including a swiftly-passing "FBI Warning" which requires a few rewinds to read completely but which is guaranteed to leave your sides aching from laughter. 5 out of 5.
Value vs. Price: The DVD costs $24.99, which is an absolute steal for any fan of the film. It has more extras than it does original film, most of which are worth repeated viewings themselves. 5 out of 5.
|You are not your job. You are not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You are not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f'ing khakis. You will go buy the Fight Club Special Edition DVD. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are finished with this review.|
The Good: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can." And it does. Repeatedly. With every kind of special feature you could ask for, above and beyond an already stellar plot with fantastic acting and directing.
The Bad: Those aren't really Helena Bonham Carter's breasts, and the cut cell of the penis does not belong to Brad Pitt, despite rumors.
The Overall Ugly: "Hey, even the Mona Lisa's falling apart." Try not to look too hard at Jared Leto's face near the end of the film. Or Bob's bitch tits. The big moosie.
What it's Worth: Well above market.