Fight Club [retro review]

“First rule of Fight Club, you do not talk about Fight Club.”

The Scoop: 1999 R, directed by David Fincher and starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter.

Tagline: Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.

Summary Capsule: Grown men beating the crap out of each other, cool!


Andie’s Rating: I’m sorry, I can’t talk about it.

Andie’s Review: Okay, first I just need to say my piece about weird movies. I don’t know what it is, but lately I have seen the most messed up, bizarre movies ever. First it was The Talented Mr. Ripley. Very weird. A little too long, but Matt Damon was really scary. Then I saw American Psycho. American Psycho makes Mr. Ripley look like Barney. Christian Bale is very scary. Then there was Fight Club. Also very weird. No character was really that scary, but the ending is very trippy. Now, it’s not that I didn’t like these movies: I did. I liked them all a lot. But they’re just bizarre. It’s kinda scary.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way… Fight Club was definitely a very cool movie. I love Ed Norton as the narrator, I think he’s an awesome actor. And this was the first role since Se7en that I liked Brad Pitt in, he plays Tyler. Helena Bonham Carter as Marla absolutely cracks me up too, she’s awesome. So, the conclusion we would draw from this is, good cast.

The story is great, I love how the fight club evolves. I won’t tell you what it evolves into, that would spoil it. But it’s a neat process. Now the ending was definitely weird. I mean, mondo bizarro. For awhile, I was like what is going on? But by the very end it sort of makes sense. Sort of. Anyway, it’s a cool movie, very entertaining and very much worth the over two hours I spent watching it. I’d definitely watch it again and I recommend it to all guys. Girls, no offense, might not like it so much. It depends on the girl. But give it a try, it’s definitely an experience.


PoolMan’s Rating: Two guys, a girl, and a fightin’ place!

PoolMan’s Review: I am now kicking myself squarely in the buttocks for having missed this in theater, but it’s still terribly engrossing on the small screen. I find it a disturbing trend that Hollywood has actually gotten its backside in gear and started releasing movies that make you think a little bit (Fight Club, Cider House Rules, Dogma, Adam Sandler Goes to Jail). Next thing you know, children will be playing out of doors and adults won’t cheat on each other! (sorry, I don’t know what came over me)

Fight Club had a real hold on me. It’s very, very dark (the dark imagery actually starts to beat you over the head after a while), and has some very engrossing characters to it. I can remember several points in the movie where all I did was try to wrap my head around why certain characters did certain things, and I tell you, I miss films that do that. Even if you can’t identify with the person, you still want to try, and that’s an amazing thing. Toss on the fact that the ending does a total mind game on you, and you’ve got a Pleased PoolMan.

Brad Pitt is as intense here as I’ve ever seen him, but I was definitely more taken with Ed Norton’s performance. He’s got this way of walking around with an innocent, wide-eyed look as he delves deeper and deeper into the night life of what basically amounts to human cockfighting (minds out of gutter, girls). He perpetually looks entranced by what goes on around him, and it’s a great contrast to his surrounding.

Argh. I’m not going to be able to put this the way I want to (I’m still a little upset at having seen Very Bad Things the day after I saw this), but I really loved Fight Club. Roll up your sleeves, put up your dukes, and check it out. And keep your eyes open. Maybe you’ll be able to see the ending coming before I did. (no great feat, but hey, I can’t help that I’m slow!)


Kyle’s Rating: You can’t pick your friend’s nose, but you can punch him there.

Kyle’s Review: Thanks to hype and the incredibly varied critical responses Fight Club received, there are still tons of misconceptions and myths about this movie. Some people are positive it’s the worst movie ever made. Others think it’s brilliant and visionary. Still others claim watching it cures hiccups and that Fight Club ticket stubs can be boiled in water to make delicious soup.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. The movie is fantastic. I’ve had the hiccups since November. And the Fight Club ticket soup sucks.

Ed Norton plays an office worker without a life, who finds the best way to feel alive is to live through other people’s miseries at support group meetings. This leads to him meeting skankily-hot Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) and then Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). This leads to forming Fight Club. I will tell you nothing more. Sorry! Be surprised!

Fight Club, thanks in no small part to director David Fincher (Alien³, The Game), is one of the dirtiest and darkest films I’ve ever seen. Every minute you’ll hear another cool line you’ll want to print on tee-shirts and wear proudly to work. It’s brilliantly acted, with one of the most complex and impressive plots I’ve ever seen, and in a year without The Sixth Sense it would have had the ultimate climatic twist of 1999.

And there isn’t as much blood as you’d think! Well, there is some. But it’s not too bad. Nothing you haven’t seen in the Die Hard trilogy a hundred times before. Prepare yourself for a few blood-spraying fistfights and the sound of facial bones crunching, and you’ll be fine. Oh, and you see a few bags of liposuctioned human fat, but it’s nothing you couldn’t find nightly spilled all over Sunset Boulevard.

See Fight Club! It’s not as violent as you might have heard, it’s more engaging and thought-provoking than you’d think, and you’ll finally find out the cool significance of that pink soap you see on the video box. Where can I buy some?


Justin’s Rating: Now with marshmallows!

Justin’s Review: Fight Club is heavy. By that I mean after seeing this movie, it’s easy to spend the next couple weeks disecting all the themes, the mysteries, the conundrums, the twists, the message. There’s just so much packed into this two hours-plus film that it gets into your head, for better and for worse, and basically revolutionizes your views on film forever. Of course, I say “you” when I can only say “me”, but I hope you understand. It’s also a heavy movie in that it’s so emotionally involving that you want to wait a while before watching it again. I know this, because upon the first viewing in theaters, I was utterly blown away by Fight Club. Two weeks later, I went with a couple friends (who were also going for another viewing) and we were just not recharged enough to reenter the world of Tyler Durden. Enjoyment lacked. But happily, it’s a truly excellent film, meticulously crafted, and it will remain a classic for a long time in my book.

Fight Club is directed by David Fincher, the same “Depressing Ending Every Time” director of Seven, The Game, and Alien³. He also has come up with some of the most cinematic mindtwisters ever made, virtually daring you to watch and rewatch and rerewatch to unveil all the new layers that are just sitting there. Sure, you could watch Fight Club and say, “Hm. A movie about guys punching each other. Wow.” You could go a bit deeper and examine the anti-yuppie, anti-preppie mentality that’s developed in today’s corporate-going culture. You could even spend days examining the mind-blowing special effects alone, in particular a few scenes that have never been attempted in any movie ever before.

Anyway, it’d take many many paragraphs to even begin to analyze this film, and I don’t feel like doing that. Besides, you might utterly hate this movie. It’s inventive, but also subversive. It’s violent, and the mixed signals anyone could get out of this is potentially scary. My previous boss was all hot to get involved in a real fight club (and the poor white boy has never even thrown a real punch). To tell you the truth, I’m not even SURE what the ultimate message of Fight Club is. But I like it a lot, a heckuva lot.

It’s a dark morality tale, and Edward Norton and Brad Pitt breathe life into a new underground cluture. I guess the attraction of the movie is a lot like the concept of the fight club: it’s alluring, exciting, yet also dangerous. I don’t mind the huge twist at the end (unlike the bewildering and stupid twists of films like American Psycho and Wild Things). The entire movie is set up very specifically: when you know what you’re looking for, the clues are all there, the themes are all structured, and the film is not clever just to be clever (thus the irony of Pitt’s early statement to Norton about coming up with clever phrases). Geez, is this film smart, tho. I just know everyone will have a different reaction to seeing Fight Club, and it’d almost be worth it to know them. Sure, you could skip out of renting this in order to see something a bit less dangerous, but you also won’t have lived fully in the cinematic world.

"Who's laughing now, girl scout? Who's laughing now?"


Intermission!

  • Tyler flashes briefly onto the screen three times before the narrator meets him. If you look close, you’ll catch it. (When he’s looking over the copier; In the doctor’s office, when Jack is learning about the testicular cancer support group; At that group’s meeting, as Jack sees Marla leaving a meeting but doesn’t follow her.)
  • They never tell us Ed Norton’s character’s name the entire movie.
  • Director David Fincher shot over 1500 reels of film, more than three times the normal amount.
  • One of the tapes degaussed is Alien³, the debut of Fight Club director David Fincher.
  • While Edward Norton is trying to convince Helena Bonham Carter to leave the city by bus, a couple of cinemas are visible with signs announcing the movies Seven Years in Tibet (starring Brad Pitt), People vs. Larry Flynt (starring Norton) and The Wings of the Dove (starring Carter).
  • Tyler’s film handiwork right before the credits? I had to rewind to be sure…
  • Some of Marla’s dialogue (e.g., “I want to have your abortion”) had to be edited out or it would have pushed the rating up to an NC-17.

Groovy Quotes

Narrator: I’d flip through the catalogs and wonder what kind of dining set defines me as a person.

Narrator: If I did have a tumor, I’d name it Marla.

Tyler: The things you own end up owning you.

Narrator: I can’t get married. I’m a 30 year old boy.

Marla: The condom is the glass slipper of our generation.

Tyler: First rule of Fight Club, you do not talk about Fight Club. Second rule of Fight Club, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club, when someone say “stop” or goes limp, the fight is over. Fourth rule of Fight Club, only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule of Fight Club, one fight at a time. Sixth rule of Fight Club, no shirt, no shoes. Seventh rule of Fight Club, fights go on as long as they have to. Eighth and final rule of Fight Club, if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.

Narrator: This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

Narrator: Marla was like that cut on the roof of your mouth that would go away if you’d stop tonguing it, but you can’t.

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