13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2000
As a huge fan of this film (I saw it twice in the theater, and innumerable times since then on tape, CED videodisc, laserdisc, and DVD), I'm disappointed that the DVD is not enhanced for widescreen TVs, and that the soundtrack is Dolby 2.0.
The supplemental material, including an hour-long "making of" and several outtakes, is well worth the purchase price for fans of this film.
I can't add much to the numerous rave reviews here, except that as much as I enjoy this movie, the ending seems absurd, to put it mildly. This is definitely not a film for all viewers; the intense violence, combined with the extremely frequent use of the "F" word, is realistic, but not entertaining for everyone. Still, for those who enjoy gangster films, this is mostly first-rate, featuring a host of scintillating supporting performances to complement the star turns by Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Steven Bauer. Giorgio Moroder's soundtrack is one of the most memorable original scores of the last 20 years.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I missed this intentionally when it came out in 1983 believing it to be another version of the Al Capone story. It is, sort of. Of course Al Pacino would be brilliant as Al Capone and demand every square inch of the screen and get it. And he was and he did. And director Brian DePalma would spray the screen in scarlet, and he did. However this updated and revised version set in Miami from a script by Oliver Stone is very much worth watching even though it's almost three hours long.
First of all, Al Pacino is riveting as Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee released from prison by Fidel Castro in 1980 who arrives in Florida with a yearning to rule the world and a huge chip on his shoulder. His character is an extreme version of the "live fast, die young" species, the kind of guy who takes extreme chances and fears nothing. It is a shame that it is not obvious that for every one of the Tony Montanas in the world who actually made it to the top of the cocaine pile, there are thousands who weren't able to dodge the bullets and died not just young, but very young.
Second, there is not a dead spot in the whole movie. Stone's action-driven script and DePalma's focused direction compel our attention. If you can stand the bestial mentality and the animalistic flash culture of the drug lords and their sleazy world, you might even want to see this twice.
What I found myself watching closely was Michelle Pfeiffer at twenty-something, strikingly beautiful and totally degenerate as the cocaine-addled moll. Also very much worth watching was Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Tony Montana's sister Gina. The big brother/little sister incestuous theme (from the original Scarface of 1931 starring Paul Muni and directed by Howard Hawks) was craftily prepared and reached a striking climax (if you will) in the scene in which Gina tells Montana that he must "have her" (that's not exactly the words she used) since he won't let anybody else have her. The touch of necrophilia that followed was perhaps gratuitous.
What I loved was the way DePalma reminded us again and again of how trapped the characters were by their desperate indulgences, the expensive liquor, the cigars, the cocaine, the stacks of money that took hours to count by machine. The scene in which Pfeiffer takes a snort of cocaine, a puff of a cigarette and a swallow of booze one after the other as the only thing she knows how to do in this world (with the white powder still on her nostrils) was wonderful in its piteous effect. I also liked the scene in which Montana, seated in his black leather chair with his initials in gold lettering, surrounded by his security video screens, dives into a pile of cocaine and comes up with it on his nose. Reminds me of the old doper saying, "Too much is never enough."
The shoot 'em up finale of course was much, much overdone and about as realistic as a John Wayne barroom fight, but I loved the way Pacino played Montana near the end as a kind of paranoid Napoleon, the little guy who wanted to rule the world now finished and insane. Note, by the way, in how many scenes Pacino played a very vigorous persona sitting down.
In the final analysis this is a morality tale, a kind of very flashy "crime does not pay" saga not because the cops will get you (they don't) but because the life itself will corrupt you beyond anything human. Those who live by the gun will die by the gun, and there is no security among murders and thieves.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2003
Al Pacino was without a doubt a well-respected actor who had "made his bones" with any number of defining roles prior to his portrayal of Tony Montana in this Brian DePalma remake of the 1932 Howard Hawks "Scarface" based loosely on the life of Al Capone. And in truth he's done some terrific work since, as well ("Scent of a Woman", "Heat", "The Devil's Advocate", "Any Given Sunday", to name a few).
But this movie, thanks mainly to Pacino's merciless performance, has done more for pop culture than anything else he's ever been associated with. That crazy over-the-top Marielito accent has been (badly) imitated more often among a generation of movie fans who weren't even out of diapers when "Scarface" was released back in 1983 than Marlon Brando's cotton-cheeked Don Corleone was mimicked since he came onto the scene in 1972; "SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND" has become the "YOU TALKIN' TO ME?" of the closing stages of the 20th Century.
"Scarface" practically invented the culture behind the hip-hop lifestyle, and this is brilliantly conveyed in the Def Jam featurette "Origin of a Gangsta" included on the second disc of this two-disc set, one of the most unique (and well-placed) special features ever to be included with a feature presentation; a director's commentary audio track would probably have been better appreciated, but the documentary footage included on the second disc mostly makes up for it.
The movie itself never looked better. I never saw the previous DVD format, so I can't make a comparison, but it absolutely blows my old VHS tapes out of the water. The 2.35:1 widescreen ratio is fantastic and all of Miami in its cocaine-addled '80's glory shines off the TV screen like a great big p****, just waitin' to get f*****...but I digress. The sound is fantastic, and just when you think the movie has been dragging for too long, the last fifteen minutes exhilerates you to the point where you're ready to watch the whole thing all over again.
If this gangster movie isn't in a class by itself, it won't take long to call the roll. If you EVER suspected that you might like gangster movies but want a different take on the genre than the NYC goombah angle, this is the flick for you. And if you're a fan of Al Pacino...well, chances are you've already seen it at least five times...so what are you waiting for? Buy it at once!
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2003
Well, it looks like Universal Pictures gave us one of those 50/50 DVDs. The extras on this single-disc "Collector's Edition" are very satisfying for the Scarface fans, but the transfer makes the movie look dirty when it's not supposed to be.
This happens to be a movie that leans towards a sense of style; that 1980s feel is accompanied by a very fitful and pulsating soundtrack by Giorgio Moroder. Most of the sequences in Scarface look high-class because of Tony's wealthy lifestyle, so cleaning up the film of its fuzziness & dirt would give it an even more realistic feel. I mean, imagine watching those scenes in The Babylon Club remastered both in picture and sound for that absorbing experience! It would really make watching the movie into a happening, which is all the better. Also, look at how grainy some other scenes are: "You made a deal for a ... 18 million dollars without checking with me? Are you crazy, Montana? Are you crazy?!" That scene appears to be the most grainy-filmed sequence in the film, and with this DVD transfer, it appears TWICE as grainy. Is that necessary?
I can see why most people are ticked off with this "Collector's Edition"...if this DVD edition of Scarface REALLY is a collector, then that would mean ruling out all other versions known since its release, because this one IS a "Collector's Edition".
In my opinion, the movie is classic! But as for the DVD, the only thing that makes it a collector's item is the excellent supplemental material.
The movie: *****
The extras: ****
The transfer: Imagine trying to break through a three-layered concrete wall with your head.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I think I can safely say I have never met anyone who dislikes the film "Scarface." Don't get me wrong; I am sure plenty of people out there would absolutely despise this profanity filled, hyperviolent exploration of the cocaine trafficking culture of the early 1980s, but I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time with them. Heck, are there people anywhere who HAVEN'T seen this film, other than my parents and grandparents? This has to be one of the best guy films ever made, and even more surprising, it holds up amazingly well with the passage of time. It's difficult in the extreme to imagine that twenty years have gone by since this first hit the silver screen. "Scarface" has lost none of its power to shock, not a bit of it. When I learned that a new DVD version recently hit the streets, I knew I had to check it out one more time. The last few times I saw the film, it looked really bad--dark, grainy, with muzzy audio quality. How could anyone let this masterpiece deteriorate? Well, thanks to the technical wizards we can once again watch Antonio Montana roll over everyone in his path in 5.1 Dolby (probably 6.1 DTS too) with a great picture transfer.
You know already know what the movie is about, but let me practice my summarizing skills anyway. Flashback to the early 1980s and the Mariel boatlift, an incident involving a flood of Cubans entering this country after Castro lifted travel restrictions in that country. Unfortunately, Uncle Fidel also emptied his jails and sent the dregs of Cuban society to the shores of Florida. In the film, two of these newly arrived immigrants are Antonio Montana (Al Pacino) and Manny Ray (Steven Bauer), two thugs looking to get out of the tent cities fast. Anything is possible for two guys willing to kill for a buck, and when a couple of big shots on the outside offer Tony and Manny green cards if they off a communist official now living in the tents, both readily go along with the deal. Soon after both men join up with big time cocaine trafficker Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). It is at this point that Tony begins to fulfill his destiny: he meets his future wife Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer), forms important connections with South American cocaine kingpin Sosa (Paul Shenar), and learns the ins and outs of distributing huge quantities of the white stuff. Problems that will later fell our anti-hero also pop up on the radar screen, namely Tony's insane preoccupation with protecting his little sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).
Opportunity comes knocking when Frank, fearing that Tony is becoming powerful, makes the horrible mistake of trying to murder his underling. After the botched assassination attempt at a local club, Montana and his crew assume power the old fashioned way by killing Frank and his corrupt cop protector Mel (Harris Yulin). Sosa sees no problem welcoming Tony into the fold, and Tony sees no problem in moving huge consignments of narcotics. He soon buys a huge mansion, complete with his own personal zoo on the premises, and even forms his own financial company to help hide his illicit activities. Sadly, Tony quickly forgets a rule first told to him by Frank Lopez: don't get high on your own supply. Cocaine reduces Tony Montana to a paranoid personality prone to absurdly violent outbursts. He's got enough muscle around to protect him from his public displays of idiocy, but no one can offer solace when the government picks him up on a money-laundering sting. Facing a few years in jail, everything would have worked out for the best if he had just helped Sosa assassinate a pesky investigator threatening to expose the South American cocaine industry. Instead, Montana goes off the deep end and ruins everything he worked so hard to earn. The world, it turns out, only belonged to Antonio Montana for a very short time.
"Scarface" works on so many levels that I should have chucked the summary and spent time talking about the subtexts. Arguably the most prominent theme in the film is how Tony Montana typifies a sort of alternate American dream. Just as millions of other immigrants did before him, he came to America to secure his future. That this future involved streets paved with cocaine instead of gold makes no difference. There has always been a certain segment of each immigrant group that came here and turned to crime. Tony is just another example of this process. But forget about all that. We all enjoy "Scarface" for the over the top violence, the awesome performances, and the imaginative use of four letter words. The chainsaw scene, the helicopter hanging, and the apocalyptic shoot 'em up denouement are all here in Technicolor brilliance. As for the acting, Pacino is vivid and flashing as the chillingly violent Tony Montana. Bauer, Pfeiffer, and Loggia provide the perfect backdrop against which Pacino does his thing. It's also nice to see F. Murray Abraham turn in a gem of performance as the sleazy Omar, Lopez's top aide. And that Giorgio Moroder score! Pure heaven!
The second disc of this twofer DVD set is somewhat of a disappointment. We get several documentaries about the making of the movie that cover many aspects of the film's conception, production, and problems, but it doesn't feel like enough. A documentary about how "Scarface" influenced the thugs in the rap industry? Give me a break! And while the very short featurette on the humorous dubbings used in the television versions bring forth a few chuckles, it was hardly worth waiting for. This is a film that screams for several in-depth commentary tracks, and we don't get a single one. Anyway, at least the movie looks great for the first time in years. "Scarface" is a modern masterpiece that must find a place on your shelf posthaste.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2003
In this remake of the 1932 film of the same name, we witness the rise of a small time Cuban refugee hoodlum, as he guns his way to the top of Miami's cocaine empire. Tony Montana's chase after the American Dream gave him wealth, power, and passion beyond his wildest dreams. But we are also witness to the man's downfall, as he becomes more and more addicted to drugs, and ruled by paranoia and jealousy. However, Tony Montana would go down as one of the most ruthless gangsters that ever lived, and be known to the world only as Scarface.
Al Pacino has made a lot of memorable films, but he has never acted with such intensity or ruthlessness as he did with Tony "Scarface" Montana. His performance alone is worth the price of the DVD. "Say hello to my little friend!" Michelle Pfeiffer looks great no matter what role she plays. She assumes the role of Pacino's love interest Elvira Hancock. The performance she gives is so great, because she was the first female lead in an film like Scarface, to ever talk back and not take anything from anyone. Her strong will actually challenges Tony, which brings out the best in the character. Steven Bauer was excellent as Tony's best friend and partner Manny. The friendship between him and Pacino is extremely well done, and it is great to watch them get to the top together. Bauer is also down right hillarious with his views on women. The funniest scene in the film is when he attempts to pick up a woman by wiggling his tongue at her, and then he gets slapped. "Lesbian!" Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, and F Murray Abraham are all sensational in their roles as well.
But the film is not only great for the overall story and acting, but for the screenplay as well. The intense screenplay was written by Oliver Stone, and gives superb insights into Miami's latin lifestyle, as well as great dialogue to the characters, and tons of unforgettable firepower. The costume and set designs are spectacular. The musical score is haunting and drives the film. It is used especially well when you see Pacino's face. The score helps to intensify Pacino's character as a whole. Finally, the cinematography is outstanding in this film as well as the camera work. Each shot is used to perfection to capture every character reaction, and every aspect of violence.
The DVD is truly the only way to see the film for two reasons. For one thing the VHS version is 2 casettes, and nothing is worse than having to get up and change tapes when you are caught up in the story. The second is that the extras are outstanding. The original DVD release of Scarface was out of print for a long time, and now it is finally being re-released under the "Anniversary Edition". You get 85 minutes of behind the scenes footage, as well as 22 minutes worth of deleted scenes. The DVD is worth the money just for the film itself, but now you have an extra incentive to buy. Not many movies are a must own in my opinion, but this one definately is.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2002
I got tired of seeing the negative reviews for this movie. Man people this is a GANGSTER FILM! What do you expect Pacino to do take a walk in the garden and pick flowers while wondering about the love of his life? HECK NO! This is a GANGSTER movie. Pacino does what GANGSTERS do such as kill, curse, do drugs etc. etc. If you didnt want to see a mobster movie then WHY THE EFF DID YOU WATCH IT? For a person like me, I couldnt stomach some softie love story movie but I wouldnt bash it because it may be a good movie but just isnt my cup of kool-aid. You dont wanna see mob activities dont push play on the DVD or VCR when this is in. SIMPLE.
Despite what 112 will have you think this world aint all Peaches & Cream; aint nothing nice about this film it is just telling you how it is. There are people just like Montana in this world and people like Pfeifer's character (forgot her name) so please step out of your suburbian shell and witness what life these gangsters go through before labeling them 'immoral'. I believe this movie gets bad ratings because it shows the truth ( not hte whole truth but still) and serves as a reality check for some. I do agree that some of the scenes are exaggerated such as the ending but then again I remember THIS IS A MOVIE. It isnt based on real life sequences so why not put some action in this thing? There is such a thing as ACTION in a film.
Now the movie is excellent and is one of my favorites of all-time. Al Pacino turns in arguably his best performance of his career. He does curse a lot but hey guess what the package is RATED R, which means if you are for the faint of heart go rent Alladin(by the way also an excellent movie with character development and a nice story-- but thats beside the point). He comes up with many unforgettable one-liners. A story of a immigrant from Cuba working his way up the ladder by killing, selling, and decieving. Like a natural brother he feels the need to protect his sister from all 'creeps' and is a little overprotective. * I wouldnt want my boys dating my sister either.* Scarface shines in its sheer bluntness, and the attitude of the film. There is no pillsbury doughboy scenes and definitely no apologizing. Many love this film because it keeps it real for lack of a better phrase. The soundtrack is also excellent and many scores from it have been sampled, even if it is a little outdated.
The DVD itself is basically horrible, The sound is terrible and hard to hear at normal volume. The picture is pixelated and not DVD quality. But it does have some nice extras and theatrical trailers.
Overall a great movie if you have the heart to handle it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 1999
There is nothing more to really say about this film; Pacino is the greatest actor of the 20th century without a doubt. Unlike the second rate Robert Deniro, Pacino does not become slowly typecasted as he ages, he becomes more diversified. This work is reflective of his purposely aimed goal of selecting roles that stretch his talent to the farthest perimeters. Not knowing Pacino's film history when I first viewed this film, I had no idea he was not Cuban. That is how well the film was played, every syllable and mannerism was depicted with full bravura, much like the Pacino I know. The brilliant stylistic eye of Brian DePalma is the other element that defines this film's beauty. If you want to see a superb collaboration of this team, see "Carlito's Way," which some believe is a undeclared sequel to Scarface. The similarities do lie there, yes, and purposely so. Very few actors like Pacino and directors like Depalma come along in the same century, so appreciate this film for the epic drama that it truly is. My hats off to you, Mr. Pacino...you are officially and undisputedly the greatest actor of all time.
For a better understanding of Pacino, see the movies: Cruising, Panic in Needle Park, Bobby Deerfield, Scarecrow, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Author Author, The Godfather Trilogy, Donnie Brasco, The Devil's Advocate, Sea of Love, Scent of a Woman, Revolution, Heat, Looking for Richard, Two Bits, Carlito's Way and The Insider.
21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2000
I've seen pretty much all the great crime movies (The Godfather Trilogy, GoodFellas, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, Pulp Fiction, etc.), but I gotta say that this one takes the taco. It's my favorite movie of all time and has been for the past 3 years. Critics don't know jack. I can't believe Leonard Maltin had the audacity to give this movie one star. Is he nuts in the head? Probably. He also gave Taxi Driver (another great film) two stars. Yet another point in which why you shouldn't listen to critics on movie reccomendations. Look at all the other reviews about this movie. Everyone seems to love it, despite a few rotten apples in the Amazon.com review bunch. Pacino is my favorite actor and after seeing this movie, you might understand why. De Palma is a highly underrated director. He doesn't copy off of Hitchcock like so many people say. De Palma copies off of De Palma. The synth score kicks and the ending sequences explodes with intensity and excitement. Great buy for Pacino fans, crime movie fans and movie buffs alike should get a kick out of this overlooked masterpiece, despite what an ignorant man like Leonard Maltin has to say.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2001
This 1980's version of SCARFACE is so compelling, that many viewers will be thinking of it for the rest of their lives. The story of a "Street-wise" Mariel Boat lift Cuban, X-prisoner, who is picked up by immigration in South Florida, and after some inner dealings in the holding facility, is released onto the streets of Miami. It documents the "rags-to-riches" story of Tony Montana, from flipping burgers, to obtaining international Drug-lord status; with virtually unlimited riches in his warchest, the key word being: war. Quite possibly, the best film ever made, it features a hypnotic performance by Robert Loggia, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfiefer and of course, the 20th Centuries all-time best performance by Al Pacino as the Cuban, complete with heavy accent and haircut. The look of the film is "beautiful-eighties", complete with the Miami-pastel colored backdrop, and the music floating around at the right moments. Note: PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE 3 MINUTE PERFORMANCE OF TONY'S MOTHER - It is so remarkable, you can almost see Pacino's admiration for this actress in his facial expressions on film!