Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – A Book Review

I don’t really know why I picked up the book Fight Club a few weeks ago.  I pretty much knew the major shocker of the story through word of mouth (it’s been out since 1996, after all).  I guess I just wanted to see what all the talk was about.  Gratuitous violence doesn’t do a whole lot for me anymore.  Most people would have thought a book called Fight Club would be the last on my list of books to read.  I’m going to be brutally honest, I figured that if Edward Norton and Brad Pitt were willing to do a film based off the book, the book must be decent.  I was not disappointed.

The book’s style was utterly devoid of any unnecessary components, which, of course, sticks to the majority of the book’s theme.  Very direct narrative, very short and simple dialogue.  The story is told to us through the first person perspective of the main character, but his name is never revealed.  This gives the book a sense of “everyman” that I believe forces, especially, male readers to identify.

Our main character is tired of life, tired of his job, tired of wanting to own things only to have those things own him.  It’s only after he meets Tyler Durden that he experiences life the way he’s always wanted to.  It begins with “Hit me as hard as you can,” and it ends with mayhem and destruction.  We have men drawn to Tyler and his Fight Clubs because they have no sense of worth without their fights.  It is only when they fight that they feel alive, and it is only through Tyler that they feel loved.  Indeed, Tyler gains quite a cult following waiting on his every command, and our narrator is no different.  Of course, the climax is when men start dying and our narrator decides enough is enough.  He steps in to stop the very thing he’d created with Tyler, and that’s when things go downhill.

Although the story seems rather unsophisticated, it is anything but.  It is the underlying message within this book that is fascinating.  We do have an entire generation of men out there (perhaps several) who don’t know how to be men because they’ve had no father figure in their lives.  They think to be a man means to fight and to destroy; they’ve never had someone show them a man doesn’t have to do these things to be “manly.”  We have a whole generation of people who don’t know why they do what they do.  Why do they work?  Why do they buy?  Why do they live?

This story is tragic, funny, and captivating.  I was instantly engrossed with the characters and the plot.  I highly recommend this book if, for no other reason, than to see an author write in an unconventional manner and prove highly successful.

The Incredible Hulk – A Movie Review

If you’ve ever been a fan of the Hulk, hardcore or otherwise, go see The Incredible Hulk.  You’ll be glad you did. 

This version of the Hulk is not the psychoanalytical drama of Ang Lee from a few years ago (which, while a little boring, didn’t particularly bother me).  No, this Hulk is directed by the guy who brought us Transporter 2, so he knows a little something about high-octane action.  And action it had!  They spend the first three minutes brilliantly recapping how Bruce Banner became the Hulk, why General Ross is after him, and how he hurt and abandoned the woman he loves.  From that moment on, it picks up five years later and races to the finish!

However, while this is most certainly an action flick, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner brings a certain amount of credibility to the film that might have been lacking without his involvement.  He delivered a depth to Bruce Banner that was expertly understated, but there nonetheless.  Honestly, when I heard they were making another Hulk movie, I thought, “Too soon.”  But when I heard Norton was in the lead, I said to myself, “This will work.”  I’ve always respected Norton’s artistic integrity and even with a comic book movie he does not rest on his laurels. 

Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, Banner’s love interest and daughter to General Ross, delivered a good performance and I felt as though she and Norton had real chemistry.  I really believed she and Norton’s characters had a history and wanted a future together.

Jettisoning all remnants of Ang Lee’s Hulk, The Incredible Hulk surprised me by its tight plot.  Though straightforward in nature, all portions of the film actually worked to progress the storyline and/or characterization.  I especially appreciated that the character who eventually becomes Hulk’s nemesis, The Abomination, slowly worked up a grudge against the Hulk and went through a slow process over the duration of the film to become a powerhouse himself.  Too often in movies a villain shows up out of nowhere with little explanation or logic.  Such is not the case with The Incredible Hulk.

They made sure to pay homage to all Hulk’s history that came before, too.  You’ll see familiar scenes and hear theme music from the old seventies show, notice the original Hulk actor himself, catch a scene with Stan Lee, and get some classic lines from the comic books.  And, if you’ve seen the commercials, a certain “Iron Man” appears as well, laying the foundation for the future.

Finally, this Hulk actually looked real.  They did such a great job of blending him in with the live action.  There were times I forgot I was watching a CGI creation with all the rippling muscles and realistic movement.  And move this Hulk did!  We finally get to see the berserker Hulk we’ve all waited for!  He’s on the rampage, tearing things apart, and it’s a blast to watch!

In summation, The Incredible Hulk is an all-out, fast-paced action movie that took special care to deliver a tight story with logical progression, rounded characterization, and very good acting.  But even with all these wonderful attributes, they delivered the most important aspect-they gave us a Hulk who relished smashing stuff up.

I’ll say it again, if you consider yourself a fan of the Hulk at all, go see The Incredible Hulk.