Scarface (1983) - Platinum Edition

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Universal || R - 170 minutes - $29.98 || October 3, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-11-02


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer(s): Oliver Stone (screenplay)
Cast: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham


Theatrical Release Date: December 9, 1983


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Scarface Scorecard
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Making Scarface: The Video Game
  • The World of Tony Montana
  • The Rebirth
  • The Acting
  • The Creating
  • TV Clips


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

“Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!”

As a fan of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, I have no qualms about watching films focusing on a bad guy as the story’s hero. I also have no shame in admitting that, before today, I had never seen Scarface. I rented it once a few years back but never had the time to finish it. So, I got the opportunity and watched the entire film, nearly three hours passed... and I wished I had ‘em back.

I doubt I have to go through the story, but here’s the long short of it: Tony Montana (Pacino; Heat) is a Cuban refugee who has come to America money, power and women -- because to get a woman, you must have the first two -- and soon starts working for drug under-lord Frank Lopez (Loggia; Lost Highway). Alongside his best pal Manny (Bauer; Traffic), he moves up in the drug world (at the barrel of a loaded gun) and sets his sights on Frank’s woman, Elvira (Pfeiffer; Batman Returns). Tony makes his way toward the top and becomes consumed with his money, power and drugs.

I know many movie fans have a place for Scarface in their heart, but I fail to see why this is cult classic. I found it to be crude and void of any likeable characters. Again, I have no problem rooting for the bad guy to win or get away with his crimes, but when the actor portraying said character comes armed with a poor accent, and worse, supporting characters who don’t add much either. The majority of the film, Pacino and the rest spend it either firing a gun or dropping a few f-bombs, which is all well and good since that sub-culture of gangsters and drug lords speaks that way, but when there’s little else going for a film, it all becomes grating.

Sometimes I can watch a film and appreciate the nostalgic value older ones present be it the 50s or 90s. Without looking at the year it was made, Scarface is an obvious product of the early 80s (and to a certain extent, is what makes the movie timeless for the majority). For me, I can handle the wardrobe, plenty of polyester and bright colors, but one thing that I will never like are the symphonic “music” scores or cues that plague 1980s flicks and TV shows (like “Miami Vice”).

However, this is a minor problem in a movie with so much else wrong with it. My biggest complaint, and the reason why I didn’t like it, was this movie has a thin story which is merely crime doesn’t pay and power corrupts, two concepts that have been presented better and before and after 1983. Combine the over the top violence, including a chainsaw killing, with some downright poor acting from its lead and some equally cringe-worthy accents from the rest (not to mention some convoluted story telling from screenwriter Oliver Stone), I can hardly call Scarface a great movie, in fact I’m willing to call it overrated.

Outside of The Untouchables and perhaps parts of Mission: Impossible, director Brian De Palma never came to mind as an upper tier director alongside of Scorsese (who directed his own power morality tale, Casino) or Coppola (The Godfather). The actual look of the film is fine as he truly captures the style and it works still twenty some odd years later, but on the same token, there’s also nothing about it that is unique or original -- and it never helps capture any kind of emotion for these characters.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This two-disc “Platinum Edition” is the third (or fourth if you count an apparently barebones re-release in January 2006) Scarface release on DVD with a “Collector’s Edition” (1998, OOP) followed by an “Anniversary Edition” (2003, OOP) and now just three years later, we get this. While it’s nice they provided a couple new items, how about a commentary from De Palma or the producer?

Scarface Scorecard - Now you can keep track of the number of f-bombs and the number of shots fired. The only pleasure I got out of this is knowing someone had the job to actually keep track of the bullets, especially when an automatic is used.

Making of Scarface: The Video Game (11:36) - I was actually surprised that this featurette wasn’t merely an advertisement for “Scarface: The World Is Yours” video game. In this, they go over why they’ve made the game and coming up with a storyline in which the ending in the movie has been changed. The game is in the open world model of the “Grand Theft Auto” series and features the voice talents of Ice T, Michael Rappaport, James Woods, Anthony Anderson, Cheech Marin, Robert Davi and many others.

The World of Tony Montana (11:33) - This new featurette is presented in anamorphic widescreen and features interviews with the producer and real members of the DEA talking about the real drug cartels and how guys like Montana climb to the top. It is fairly entertaining, but nothing great when you consider it was made for this release.

The following were available on the “Anniversary Edition”:

Deleted Scenes (22:27) - There are 15 scenes featured with most being extended or alternate cuts of scenes already in the final cut. A few do feature Montana trying to make some money on the side as well as some more conversation between him and Sosa. Nothing here though was of use to me, but at least they carried it over.

The Rebirth (16:08) - Covers the inspiration for this version which is a loose remake on the 1932 classic starring Paul Mini and directed by Howard Hawkes. Pacino, De Palma, Stone and others talk about the classic and taking it from concept to the final product. They also chat about the beginnings of the project and getting Oliver Stone to write the screenplay (and Stone himself explains how he got some of his ideas).

The Acting (15:00) - You’re taken through each character, with certain emphasis on Pacino and getting help with his Cuban dialect. Again, more sound bites from various members of the cast and crew that gives a little more insight into the making of Scarface.

The Creating (28:50) - Takes you through the process of actually filming Scarface including the decision to film it in L.A. rather than in Florida due to a small segment of the Cuban population who were concerned with the possible negative association it might have. Most interesting was the discussion about the MPAA giving the film an “X” rating before relenting and giving it the “R” rating due to pressure De Palma put using the media.

TV Clips (2:46) - Shows the differences between the theatrical version and one seen on television as they have a job to get rid of the countless f-bombs and bloody violence. This one could have been longer as these chop jobs always interest me.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Since I don’t own the previous release, I don’t know if this is the same transfer and even though the back boasts an “All-New Enhanced Dolby Digital and DTS Audio and Digitally Remastered Picture”, I wonder if it was. Either way, the picture, anamorphic widescreen 2.35 aspect ratio, looks great, although some spots were a bit too rich, but all around a solid transfer.

You get the option of both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks, both are suitable, although the DTS track does add some more depth with the music and score. Whenever possible, I automatically go for the DTS mix, but even the Dolby Digital one would be fine. You also get French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 tracks.



.::OVERALL::.

Even though I didn’t find the movie met the cult status the majority have placed on it, this DVD is actually good, but if you do own the previous release, I can’t see the new features worth shelling out another $20. If you hadn’t gotten around to getting the DVD before, then here’s your chance (that is, until the 30th anniversary).