Fight Club Blu-ray Review
'Fight Club' is presented in widescreen 2.40:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
'Fight Club' was always a very dark and gritty movie and at times, on the DVD release, the presentation passed over the narrow line of grit and attitude and into the realm of slight indistinguishability. I'm pleased to report that this transfer, from the original Super 35mm film stock, is absolutely immaculate. All aspects are crystal clear and are always visible throughout the dimly lit presentation. The level of detail is very impressive, with the individual throbbing veins visible on Norton's temple and text from the IKEA catalogue (including the individual catalogue reference numbers) during the “apartment consumer whore” scene is legible. The most significant increase in detail can be seen in the disgustingly decrepit and dilapidated Paper Street abode. Facial close-ups reveal imperfections on Carter's skin (a reaction to the makeup, apparently) and all the brutal “fight damage” (such as the beautiful discolouration on Angel Face's visage) is plainly visible. Even the flashes of Durden (and the woolly fabric of his dressing gown!) are distinctly more pronounced and obvious here.
Colouring is rather dour, desaturated and restricted to earthy tones but this comes as no surprise. There are some strong primaries on display during the more brightly lit portions but for the majority the palette is muted but naturalistic and solid. In saying that, there are some nice colour subtleties on show here, such as the various garish garbs which adorn Tyler and Marla. The contrast ratio is very strong indeed, with some cavernous blacks on display. The all important shadow detail, for a dark presentation such as this one, is impressive, with a lot more detail visible in the gloomy shadows that I can previously recall on DVD. There is a gentle fizz of grain for the duration, which is always organic, and unobtrusive, adding texture and detail to the image.
While many of the scenes exude a pleasing depth, there are not many which display that sought after “3d-pop” factor. This doesn't really matter on a movie such as this, as it's the almost tangible and gritty texture which shines through and really sheds new light on the transfer, unveiling the presentation as Fincher saw it through his monitors on set. On the whole this BD release is a whole lot clearer, sharper and better defined than the previous DVD release. The image is more solid and the dimly lit segments, of which there are many, are much brighter and boast a greater level of shadow detail than ever before. This BD is well worth the upgrade from DVD and is the best that 'Fight Club' has ever looked; highly recommended.
'Fight Club' comes packed with a dts HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.
I own the THX certified R1 DVD edition of this movie and I'm pretty familiar with the audio mix. Right from the opening title sequence from the Dust Brothers, the improvement here is very noticeable. One of the most impressive sequences, for me, was always the “plane crash” sequence and on this release it is simply stunning. The entire room is ripped in half and I swore that I could feel the immense rush of wind from all channels tousling my hair! The bass presence is intense and front separation is superb. This is a trend which, I'm glad to report, continues for the duration. The soundstage is incredibly active and scenes such as the car crash and the coffee shop/art deco destruction bring forth waves of incredibly deep and rumblalicious bass. All of the meaty slaps of flesh of flesh are similarly underpinned by a weighty thump from the subwoofer. Vocals are crystal clear, never difficult to follow and add a pleasing bass tonality to Norton's voiceover.
The surround channels are used to great effect almost continuously for the majority. There is a constant buzz of ambient effects, such as the chatter of photocopiers and phones in the office area or the echo of the focus group therapist's voice floating around the listening position. The surrounds also come into play to add to the ambience during some segments. For example, a subtle choral accompaniment can now clearly be heard as Jack spills his guts into Bob's enormous bitch tits. There were a lot of audible improvements noted over the already stellar DVD release. In one particular scene, wherein Jack is examining a potential recall, a fly can be heard buzzing around the burnt human fat in the driver's seat. This is one of those effects that I did not previously notice on the DVD release, as was the tinkling of the bell signifying a reel change during Tyler's splicing activities.
The score is provided by techno-wizards The Dust Brothers and they've really outdone themselves here. Aside from the highly recognisable title sequence, which pounds forth from all speakers with very satisfying bass presence, the remainder of the score is sublime. The score as a whole is powerful, energetic and unforgettable; it reminded me of Mark Motherborough's 'Life Aquatic' effort at times. Normally I despise this type of music but this score is an exception to the rule. The mixing is top notch, with very active surround bleed and perfectly weighted bass; this is a score which really adds to the presentation.
I'm pleased to report that this BD release boasts a surround track that betters the previous R1 DVD's THX certified track, which is no mean feat; highly recommended and a reference grade audio track.
This BD release of 'Fight Club' comes with a significant collection of extras. There's not one, not two, not three, but four feature commentary tracks, which were previously available on the DVD release. One of the most amusing features is the “fake” introduction screen which states that this disc is 'Never Been Kissed' starring Drew Barrymore - I can't remember if this was on the regular DVD but it had me cursing the BD producers for such a heinous crime for a couple of minutes! There are also some brand new features included for this tenth anniversary edition.
The first commentary features director David Fincher. Needless to say this is a very worthwhile commentary and Fincher goes into great detail on all aspects of the production of this movie and the concepts of the plot. Each of the characters' motivation is explained in depth and all of the scenes are given a blow by blow breakdown of what's going on. There are a couple of periods of inactivity and Fincher does focus a lot on the production (and other technical) aspects of filming and how the movie came to be, but this is a very worthwhile track nonetheless.
The second commentary features Fincher, Helena Bonham Carter, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. All four speak openly and frankly about the movie and each of their respective characters. There is plenty of humour splashed here and there - especially during the Tyler/Marla sex scenes! Fincher is somewhat subdued but the other three more than make up for his “speak only when spoken to” attitude. Norton, in particular, has a very good grasp on his character and the plot, adding a lot of interesting insight. This is another highly interesting and worthwhile commentary. I do believe that Carter's track was recorded separately from the other three, which can lead to some slightly disjointed comments at times. However, this is a minor gripe.
The third commentary features Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote the novel on which this movie is based, and Jim Uhls, who wrote the screenplay. This is another fascinating commentary, with Chuck outlining the many characters/experiences from his real life that feature in this movie. There's also a lot of interesting trivia, such as how the “cold breath” from the ice cave scene was a surplus CGI effect from 'Titanic' which the producers decided to use! There are a couple of periods of inactivity but the rest of the content more than makes up for the short breaks in this commentary track.
The fourth is a technical commentary from Alex McDowell (production design supervisor), Jeff Cronenweth (cinematography supervisor), Michael Kaplan (costume design supervisor) and Kevin Haug (visual effects supervisor). All of the computer generated components included in the movie, the lighting, cinematography choices and all of the audio effects are discussed here. Wardrobe and set decoration are also expanded upon. There's a lot of worthwhile content here, which provides background information on how the entire movie was put together.
"A Hit in the Ear: Ren Klyce and the Sound Design of Club" (HD 9mins) - This is a brand new feature which takes a look at the sound design of 'Fight Club'. The interview with Ken (who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on this movie) explores his stellar attention to detail and ear for perfection during his time on the set of 'Fight Club'. There's also a neat interactive component which allows the viewer to remix the audio on four of the scenes from the movie - “Welcome to Fight Club”, “Angel Face's Beating”, “The Crash” and “Kudzu Vine Speech”. Each of these segments are given a brief introduction from Ken and it's actually good fun to remix theses segments in any way that you wish but the novelty wears thin pretty quickly.
“Flogging Fight Club” (HD 9mins) - This is footage from the recent Spike TV's Guy's Choice awards ceremony where this movie receives an award for the best guy movie; an accolade which is presented by Mel Gibson on horseback to Fincher, Norton and Pitt! There's actually an amusing acceptance speech, which was written on the fly a couple of minutes before the award is presented.
“Insomniac Mode: I am Jack's Search Index” - This nifty little feature brings you to points in the movie and in the additional supplements, which explain some of the common terms used throughout the movie, such as “napalm” and “death rattle”!
Behind the Scenes (SD) - This feature takes a look behind the scenes, with optional commentary from Haug (visual effects supervisor), Wenger (special effects co-ordinator), Mack (digital special effects supervisor) and Bailey (digitial animation supervisor). There are alternative camera angles, alternative audio tracks and a huge wealth of content here, which focus on the key scenes from the movie, as well as behind the scenes footage depicting how all the visual effects were conceived and refined. The “On Location” segment offers the most revealing behind the scenes glance, with lots of B-roll footage included. This is another very worthwhile and interesting feature.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes (SD) - Included here are seven deleted/alternate scenes for your viewing pleasure; “Chloe and Rupert”, “Marla's Pillow Talk”, “Copier Abuse”, “Tyler Quits Smoking/ Jack Quits Working”, “Angel's Face Beating”, “Walter” and “Tyler's' Goodbye”. Most are interesting but are no real great loss to the finished product. It's also interesting to note that the reasons why each of the scenes was cut/amended is also explained, as well as a comparison with the finished scene, backstage footage and multiple angles (where applicable).
Publicity Material (SD) - Included here are a number of trailers, TV spots, internet spots, a music video, exit instruction (for the theatre) from Tyler and Jack and an text based interview with Ed Norton (in which he discusses this movie with the alumni of Yale University).
Art Gallery (HD) - This feature includes visual effects, location, costume, pre—production and opening title sequence stills, as well as the storyboards for the entire movie.
'Fight Club' was released to critical acclaim ten years ago (1999). Director David Fincher has produced one of his greatest movies to date with this release. The cast is a veritable tour de force at the top of their game and includes Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter and Edward Norton. Starting up an illegal Fight Clubs to provide an outlet for his aggression and frustration (and to potentially cure his insomnia), it's not long before “Jack” (Norton) and his new best friend, Tyler Durden (Pitt), realise that their lives, and their club, are rapidly spiralling out of control. The plot is slick, well paced, exciting and fiercely intelligent, with more twists and turns than you can imagine. The performances from all the cast and the direction from Fincher is of the highest possible calibre. This simply is one of the most inspirational and stunning movies of the last ten years and deserves to be in every cinema fans collection.
The video presentation offers a distinct and worthwhile upgrade from DVD, with a huge amount of detail on show, even through the gloom of the many dimly lit scenes. The same can be said for the audio mix and this really is a reference grade uncompressed track. The extras package is bursting at the seams and contains four commentary tracks and a couple of exclusive BD additional supplements. I can cannot recommend this release enough and it's simply a must buy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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