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Blu-ray Review: Fight Club

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The Film

One of the chief entries in the pseudo-cinephile's hall of fame, Fight Club occupies hallowed ground among those who have spent most of their movie-watching career ingesting Hollywood studio output. Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk and directed by David Fincher, Fight Club makes its Blu-ray debut on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.

Marrying brutal machismo with dime-store philosophy about commercialism and manliness, Fight Club definitely has more ideas than the average Hollywood film, but some kind of genius manifesto on society, it's not.

Still, it's a fun ride thanks to some clever ideas from Fincher and a pair of solid performances from Edward Norton as a disillusioned corporate drone and Brad Pitt as a magnetic soap salesman who introduces him to an underground escape. Helena Bonham Carter also features quite nicely as the damaged vixen who seems to be carrying on a thing with each at the same time.

Fight Club has been railed against as being oppressively nihilistic, but that would require it to take most of its ideas deathly seriously. It doesn't — all sorts of anti-capitalist, anti-commercialistic, anti-society tropes are name-dropped in, but if Fincher and Co. actually held to those ideals, every single person who watched the film should be considered a mindless parasite vicariously experiencing real excitement from a movie.

This film is never that hostile or challenging to its audience, but it should be if its ideas are to be believed.

Still, despite the ridiculous heights to which the film has been elevated by its own devoted band of drones, Fight Club has enough style, wit and charm to succeed as a slickly realized piece of entertainment, even if its intentions don't really match its purported ideals.

The Blu-ray Disc

Fight Club is presented in 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The high-def transition looks spectacular on this 10-year-old film, which has never looked so sharp and finely detailed. The universally dark visual motif of Fight Club ensures that it isn't the shockingly vibrant Blu-ray picture that seems to leap off the screen, but it succeeds in its own way. The film's textured grain structure remains in place, but it serves to increase detail rather than become a distraction. Black levels are utterly dark, and although contrast is not high between colors, it is exceedingly crisp.

The audio, which is presented in 5.1 Dolby DTS-HD, is even more impressive, with a very loud mix that begins pumping through the speakers as soon as the film begins, and rarely lets up. This mix required me to keep my volume level down about 15 spots below where I would normally play a Blu-ray disc. Ambient noise is used extensively, and the excellent sound design and thumping soundtrack provide plenty of work for the subwoofer. Dialogue is noticeably quieter than most other sound elements, but not problematically so.

Special Features

Two new high-def extras are included on the Blu-ray: a featurette on the sound design that allows you to remix four select scenes from the film, and a segment from Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards, in which Pitt, Norton, and Fincher accept an award with about as little enthusiasm as possible, while reciting some of the negative reviews the film received upon its release. Oh yeah, and Mel Gibson gives them the award while on horseback.

Everything else is carried over from the two-disc special edition DVD, including four commentary tracks, making-of featurettes, an interview with Norton, several deleted scenes, and a very large selection of promotional material. None of these extras have been upgraded to high def.

The Bottom Line

Fight Club seems destined to endure simply on the basis of its rabid fanbase. Most of them should probably think about expanding their film-watching habits, but Fight Club still works on enough levels to be worthwhile, and its Blu-ray presentation is superb.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.