"You are, by far, the most interesting single-serving friend I have ever met."
With "Fight Club", director David Fincher takes the viewer and throws them head first into the darkness - the film is a train running off the tracks at high speed. Director Fincher has been paired up with the perfect story and the perfect actors. Edward Norton stars as the narrator, a wash-out at a major company who has problems with insomnia to the point where he looks as if he's about to simply shut down at any time.
He orders products to fufill his life, looking for things like what furniture is really "him", only to have the high of the purchase evaporate in mere moments. He begins to join local "12-step meetings" to make himself feel better while sitting around people who are recovering or at the end of their lives.
And then, Tyler Durden. Played by Brad Pitt, soap salesman Durden comes into the narrator's life and makes an enormous impact. The two begin to have little fights that turn into bigger fights when the two form a bigger society - a "Fight Club". At first things seem to be going according to plan, but once the club aims for bigger goals, things begin to spin out of control.
The film certainly stands the test of time and, oddly enough, seems almost more relevant (in terms of its messages) now 10 years later than it did when it was first released. "The things you own end up owning you" seemed awfully true over the last year or so during the financial crisis, largely caused by debt. Yet, given some of the things that are occurring now not longer after the financial crisis started, one can be almost certain that "Fight Club" will probably be even more relevant another 10 years from this point, or maybe it won't even take that long for the film's messages to grow more powerful yet again.
The performances are top-notch, especially Pitt's enjoyably demented performance as Durden, which is matched by Norton's cold, slow-burn intensity that builds throughout the film. Helena Bonham-Carter is also excellent in a supporting effort as Marla Singer, the mysterious woman Norton's character meets in the support group and who quickly becomes a larger part of his life.
Note: when this Blu-Ray disc first loads, the menu displayed is for a VERY different movie (there is actually a picture of the star of the different movie in "Fight Club" at one point, on a magazine.) You did not get a bad disc - the menu switch is just a joke and a very, very funny one.
VIDEO: "Fight Club" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) and the transfer is clearly the finest presentation of the film outside of theaters. A solid improvement over the previously released DVD, sharpness and detail are remarkable: the small texture of a doughnut or corkboard is presented with the kind of smooth, glassy clarity that looks almost life-like.
No edge enhancement is seen, nor were any instances of pixelation. The film does have a slightly grainy, gritty look, but this is intentional and the Blu-Ray presentation handles the film's gritty feel better than the prior DVD did. Colors look subdued and steely during most scenes, but the occasional brighter, bolder color does show through well. Black level remained bold and strong, while flesh tones looked spot-on. This is an awesome presentation of the film that should delight fans.
SOUND: The film is presented on Blu-Ray in DTS-HD 5.1. I found the audio for "Fight Club" to be absolutely remarkable 10 years ago and think it still stands up well today. There are so many subtle sound noises that distinguish the environments that the viewer is placed in, we're pulled almost completely into this universe.
Surround use is extremely agressive; the sense of space and dimension involved with the sound for "Fight Club" is simply marvelous. In some of the interior scenes when characters are talking, the echo of their voices carries throughout the room to sheer perfection. The score by the Dust Brothers also sounds excellent, with the haunting and dynamic score filling the room with impressive impact. Every detail, both loud and subtle, are captured with stunning clarity. This is a wonderful, wonderful example of sound design that is amazing work from sound designer Richard John Hymns("Saving Private Ryan", "The Game", "Jumanji") and his crew. The DTS-HD presentation offered a more precise and powerful listing experience, with greater clarity and deeper low-end bass.
EXTRAS: Commentary One: This is a commentary from director David Fincher, actor Brad Pitt, actor Ed Norton and also, Helena Bonham Carter, although Carter sounds as if she was edited into the track, while Pitt, Norton and Fincher do discuss things back and forth together. I found this to be one of the best commentaries that I've heard this year, being alternately an intelligent discussion of the film and film in general, and an talk that has quite a few entertaining moments as the three joke around about working together(during one rather dark sequence, Norton jokes to the director, "now admit it, we're a little underlit here, Fincher").
Since Bonham Carter was recorded separately, she does go down her own roads discussing the film, talking about what it was like to work with the other actors and also, sharing her thoughts on the themes of "Fight Club". The other three participants do much of the same, but expand further upon the production. Pitt and Norton do a lot of the talking, and Fincher frequently adds in additional facts. The majority of this track also isn't that technical, although there is a joke or two about how dark the film looks. Mainly, it's all about stories from the set and themes from the film analyzed (and occasionally, they debate lightly the film's concepts).
It's an entertaining time listening to the three talk with one another about the making of the movie, and it's obvious that they've all become friends while making the movie. It's a relaxed discussion that still really keeps organized and informative.
Commentary Two: This is a commentary from only director David Fincher. While Fincher let Norton and Pitt do the majority of the talking on the first track, he is the sole speaker on this track, and talks energetically about the film. It focuses a little more on the technical and production aspects rather than the themes that were visited in the first commentary that I talked about. There is certainly still some chatting about the story in this discussion as well, though.
The director goes through a screen-specific commentary for the entire film, touching on many different subjects and going into an impressive amount of detail about how many of the scenes were brought to the screen. He has very specific concepts about the directorial process and shares many of his ideas on how to approach things such as casting and meeting with actors to the screening process for the film.
There are a handful of brief moments of silence during the commentary, but for the most part, Fincher talks consistantly throughout the film. I really enjoyed listening to his contributions to the commentary with Pitt and Norton and their discussion, but I think that he holds things together very well during this solo commentary and has more than enough information to carry viewers through the making of "Fight Club".
Commentary Three: This third commentary on the DVD contains a discussion from "Fight Club" novel writer Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhuls. As one might expect from a commentary like this one, this discussion mainly focuses on the differences between the screenplay and the novel.
I really shouldn't short this discussion and say it's simply a discussion of the writing. Although that aspect offers the most interesting comments and information, the two also provide a lot of additional viewpoints on how the final product of the film turned out. They also talk a little bit about the history of the production, talking about how the studio became interested in making a film out of the novel.
The two have a lot of fun chatting about the film, occasionally offering a few funny stories about the film and stories about behind-the-scenes events. There are some points of silence where the two aren't talking, but when they do chat about the movie, they provide quite a bit of insight and humor. The two provide a fascinating back and forth discussion about the film's themes and what it took to translate the film to the screen.
Commentary Four: This is a commentary from Director of Photography Jeff Cronenweth,production designer Alex McDowell, FX supervisor Kevin Haug,costume designer Michael Kaplan and digital animator Doc Bailey. This commentary occasionally is a little tough to follow due to the amount of people included, but the narrator keeps things organized, introducing the people who are speaking.
Each of the contributors provide their own viewpoint from the task that they had to do on the film. Cronenweth is especially interesting when talking about the film's cinematography, chatting about the lighting and camera work that had to be done to give the film its visual look. Kevin Haug provides an especially informative discussion as well, talking about the film's visual effects scenes and how they were accomplished.
All of the contributors offer their view on the job that they did, but they also talk about stories from the set and occasionally, general viewpoints on the story. It's a final wrap-up of the process of "Fight Club". These 4 commentaries go over almost every detail of the production, from the story and themes, to the direction, to the production and special effects and back again. There are some pauses here and there throughout all of the commentaries but the Fincher/Norton/Pitt commentary; even so, they do provide a wealth of information and just about everything you could ever want to know about this film.
TV Spots: There are seventeen TV spots included on the second disc, in the catagories of "USA", "International" and "Spanish". Unlike a lot of discs recently where TV ads simply play out, here you can select them one by one and watch whichever one you want.
Trailers: Included are the teaser trailer, full trailer and an additional trailer, "The 8 Rules Of Fight Club" that was not used in the marketing campaign, but was finished for inclusion on this DVD.
PSAs: "Public Service Announcements" from Jack and Tyler.
Internet Spots: 5 Internet teaser trailers promoting the film.
Promotional Gallery: This section offers a photo gallery of many of the promotional materials used in the marketing campaign, from posters and lobby cards to the press kit and stills from the movie.
Edward Norton Interview: This is a transscript of an interview Norton did about the film when he returned to Yale, where he graduated from college.
Deleted Scenes: There are 7 deleted scenes, and I enjoyed how this section is layed out. When you select a scene in the menu, text pops up to explain what this sequence is about and why it was cut.
The featurettes: There are quite a few featurettes that are dedicated to various scenes or aspects of the production. What's so impressive about these featurettes is that many of them offer more than one audio track(commentary) about what's on-screen.
Kevin Haug: Visual Effects Supervisor
Cliff Wenger: Special Effects Coordinator
Kevin Mack: Visual FX Supervisor for Digital Domain
Doc Bailey: Digital Animation Supervisor
These are the featurettes for the "visual effects" featurettes: "Main Title"(commentary by Kevin Haug and additional commentary by Kevin Mack; includes "map" - concept art) ; "Furni Catalog"(commentary by Kevin Haug; includes storyboards) ; "Ice Cave/Power Animal"(principal photography commentary by Kevin Haug; storyboards included) ; "Photogrammetry"(commentary by Kevin Haug, includes storyboards) ; "Mid-Air Collision"(previsualization commentary by Kevin Haug - additional previsualization commentary by Kevin Mack) ; "Sex Sequence"(commentary by Kevin Haug, includes storyboards) ; "Car Crash"(audio 1 is principal photography; 2 is commentary by Cliff Wenger; includes storyboards) ; "Gun Shot"(commentary by Kevin Haug) ; "Collapse"(Commentary by Doc Bailey and Kevin Haug).
The production featurettes become a little more complicated, offering both alternate audio and multiple angles to see different versions of a sequence. The first sequence is "Alternate Main Titles"(offered: angles: 1, textless - 2, incompleted preview version - 3, alternate font style 1 - 4, alternate font style 2)(audio: main title theme, alternate main title theme).
The next featurette is "Airport", which includes 2 angles; 1 - location scout; 2 - principal photography. 3 audio tracks are included here; 1- location scout, 2- principal photography and 3- commentary by David Fincher. "Jack's Condo" featurette is set up in really the same fashion, with location scout angle/audio, principal photography angle/audio and commentary by director Fincher.
The "Paper Street House" featurette includes 2 angles and 2 audio tracks; angles are: pre-production(designing&building the house) and principal photography; audio tracks are "location scout" and "principal photography").
"Projection Booth" featurette includes "location scout" and "principal photography" angles/audio. The final production featurette is "Corporate Art Ball", which includes 2 angles and 2 audio tracks; the angles are "location scout/principal photography" and "pre-visualization/raw footage". Audio tracks are "location scout/principal photography" and the second one is "commentary by Cliff Wenger and Kevin Haug".
I really enjoyed how Fox set-up and organized the production featurettes, where the viewer first selects which angle they want to view, and then selects what audio. The nice thing beyond that is, if you want to switch audio or angle during the presentation, you can with your remote.
On Location: This is the final featurette included on the DVD, joining the cast and crew on the set of the movie, watching the production at work. This is different from the usual featurette that we're used to seeing in the way that it really doesn't involve interviews - this is a documentary that shows a lot on-set footage, and it's cool to sort of be there and watch and come to our conclusions without someone explaining everything; it's a very intimate look at the process and I think that I'd rather have featurettes be like this, just being in the middle of the chaos of filmmaking.
Cast&Crew Bios: Bios for just about everyone involved with the movie.
Art Gallery: This section includes 6 separate areas: "Storyboards", "Visual Effects Stills", "Paper Street House", "Costumes and Makeup", "Pre-Production Paintings" and "Brain-Ride Map".
Finally, we also get a new sound design featurette with Ren Klyce discussing his work on the film, as well as a "Spike TV" featurette on the film.
Final Thoughts: Even more relevant and powerful today than when it was first made, it's impressive that "Fight Club" was able to be made at all. The 10th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition boasts stellar audio/video quality, as well as a terrific set of extras. Highly recommended.
The Film A