Review

David Fincher's Fight Club is one helluva movie ride. I suggest that it be seen on the big screen while there's still time to spare. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT just let time pass and wait for it to come on video. You'll be very sorry if you miss this psychotic cinema experience.

I can already tell you that the many views, messages, and interpretations of this film will not all be touched upon within this review. This is a very deep and widespread picture that makes you think about it for days to come. In fact, if you do not have a brain (one of your own anyway), I wouldn't recommend seeing this picture at all. It requires you to make your own judgments and it doesn't lay everything out for you on a silver platter. If you're the kind of person who doesn't want to think about the movie you are watching, why bother even seeing this one?

So, I will not go through fifteen paragraphs explaining the plot to you. Why, do you ask? For one, I've read so many reviews where the plot is the bread-n-butter that I can't take it anymore. I want to assess the film, not repeat what is stated in every single publication on the market. And for two, the plot is too cerebral and hallucinatory to be laid out in words. A brief run-around is all you need; then, once you see this flick, you can determine the "plot" for yourself.

Here it goes: A disgruntled yuppie who shall remain nameless (we will call him the Narrator) is leading a dead-end life. Nothing really matters except the material possessions that make him feel complete. He attends support groups for people with real problems; these groups warm his desperation, and in turn cure his insomnia. So, this Narrator meets a chick named Marla, who is a "faker" just like him. She is a detour, so to speak, for the Narrator, who now feels violated. The two then part ways and that's when the fun begins . . . .

The Narrator hooks up with a mystical character on a plane who's name is Tyler Durden. Instead of being a "single serving friend," Tyler soon becomes the Narrator's confidant, and the two beat the hell out of each other one night to form Fight Club. Shall I go any further? Well, I will say that it gets out of hand when Tyler trains an army full of mindless drones to help him carry out Project Mayhem, and a lot of crazy stuff soon ensues. The rest will be up to you, there to figure into your awe-filled noggin once you set foot into the confines of your movie house. It's like a bad acid trip; don't say I didn't warn you.

Fight Club is a film that is hard to describe conventionally, let alone without the presence spoilers. I'm afraid that if you read any further, you will be cursed with knowing key aspects of the movie's structure and plot line that will definitely hinder the experience you would have whilst knowing nothing. So, unless you've had the privilege of seeing the movie, leave now.

I can pour all of my views on this movie out to you right now. I will start by telling you what I thought of the film as a whole. Well, as you noticed, this film barely missed the four star mark in my book. I rarely ever give a film above three stars, but I was sure that this one would exceed all expectations. To be frank, it did and it didn't. The movie is the most visually awesome picture I have ever seen, a Thanksgiving feast for the film buff. Fincher's command of the medium is one of a kind, giving us some of the most creative and outlandish cinematic techniques of telling a story I have ever seen. This movie never bores. If Fincher thinks a point in the story will be slow, he spruces it up with some kind of amazing effect that keeps the audience peeled and breathless. He moves the camera with ease, giving every single shot some sort of unique quality. The atmosphere is amazing, with kudos going to the awesome cinematography and amazing production design. If ever a film should be honored for it's technical achievements, this film blows Titanic out of the ocean.

Style over substance? Not likely. As I've already mentioned, this film has no trouble with the depth of plot or substance. It's just the question as to whether or not it was handled properly towards the flabbergasting finale.

And that's my only gripe: The last thirty minutes or so. The pacing is off the wall and uneven seems to be the name of the game. Beginning with the screw-up of Project Mayhem (involving the clumsy Big Bob), we suddenly fall into an avalanche of overabundant dialogue and topsy-turvy "What's going on" sequences. These could have been handled better, in a more nightmarish sort of way, but instead they are meandering and at times annoying. Since they are structured oddly from the rest of the film, they tend to drag on, making the audience feel restless, and the movie feel long (a concept that wasn't a problem until these sequences). The crying shame is that these scenes were very pivotal, and were the backbone of the film's big twist. The Narrator spends a bit too much time complaining and trying to convince people, that it all goes haywire in the end, rendering the twist more ludicrous than it is intended to be.

"So, why do you love the film so much if you're complaining about it?" you may ask. To be honest, I was just venting my only gripes about the movie so I could get on to praising it. I have no other problems besides these, flaws I wish were edited down to make this the epitome of perfection.

Okay, back to the masterpiece aspect. Peeled to the screen the entire time. On the edge of my seat during every intense minute. Let me tell you, scene after scene is a winner, each with the ability to stand by itself as its own little movie. Just when you see an instant classic, nerve-splitting vignette, a new one rolls along. Perfect. And I must add that this film contains some of the most intense sequences I have ever seen, all piled on top of each other and blended together seamlessly. A great thing for a movie to have, perfect for keeping the viewer in their seat, full bladder or not.

You want more? How about endless comedy in a film who's concept is not exactly meant to be comical? I swear, some of these scenes are so funny, they're Jim Carrey worthy. Don't believe me? Ask the two audiences who laughed along with me. They'll tell you.

Okay, so I've laid out what I feel is great about this movie, but I haven't necessarily assessed the film's core, and that is its themes and messages. And guess what: I'm not. Too bad. You've heard it all before. I will state my warped views of the film, though (spoiler part); and I will start by saying that I think this is all one big nightmare. The film's so overblown (in a good way) and exaggerated that by its final shot, it's just an internal feeling. Fincher's direction is purposely over the top and pretentious, as if he is telling us, "People, this is not meant to be taken literally." If you take it too literally, going around assessing every little nook and cranny, you will find yourself drowning in a sea of plot holes and asking, "Why?" So, take the Narrator's increasing insanity to heart, and Fincher's warped direction as well. Is he taking the material as a documentary? Absolutely not. Watching the final shot, you know deep down inside that, hey, this was all way, waay out there. It's another world. Live with it. It's the Narrator's world. We're in his fucking head. And he never knows if he's asleep or awake. Coincidence?

My other controversial view (spoiler): This is a large, abnormal study of multiple personality disorder. Sure, there are many, many other messages to be taken into account, but in the end, an ending that many find ludicrous, you realize that one of the main points of this was to get in to this narrator's brain, a brain stricken with a terrible disease. Everything is a metaphor for lunacy, so why wouldn't the twist be prevalent? Why would it be just a trick, a bailout as many would say? Well, let me tell you this: He never woke up, now did he? This isn't A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 50. We don't have a twist that is totally pointless. It makes you think, for weeks and weeks to come, and it makes you a repeat viewer as well. And it also makes you crazy. If you want to go a step further, I would even suggest that Marla is the Narrator's feminine side.

I also believe that this is in no way a glorification of violence and brutality. It is not saying, "Hey, go out and do what we do and there won't be any consequences." There are in fact consequences to the violence in this film, and, if anything, it is anti-violent. In no single frame does an offender get away without a cut or bruise, without losing something important. The fighters get stitches, get hamburger faces, get dispatched of by accident when they do something wrong. A shot of a pool of blood on a concrete floor is shown, telling us that violence, in any form, is not a game. If you want to take the anarchy message to heart, than so be it. But just remember, nobody in this movie wins. The message is more of a, "Let yourself go," than a, "Become antisocial and destroy all corporate America." Misinterpretations arise from lack of reasoning . . . .

With a final thought to this overly long review, I will say that "this isn't a Jean-Claude Van Damme film we're talking about here." There aren't fist fights and combat at every turn. In any case, the fights are at a minimum, a mere accomplice to a much broader tale of alienation and living your life. You can view it however you want to, but don't jump to conclusions. Don't say, "Oh, it's fascist, oh, it's racist, oh, that's what the Nazis did . . . ." The mixture of races should be the first clue that this film is in no way advocating the bowels of prejudice. And, if you think about it, almost anything you see in life can be interpreted as being fascist or anarchist, one way or the other. So, I urge you, see this film with an open mind. Laugh, cringe, make interpretations -- just don't rush to cliched judgments just because Roger Ebert told you to. If you hate it, that's fine; but make sure you have a reason. Because, to be quite honest, there isn't much to hate about this film. It's the ballsiest, gutsiest, most fearless movie to ever be made in our generation. If you're craving to be blown away, to be challenged to think, Fight Club is the one to see. And I'm going to see it again and again.




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