208 of 239 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2003
The reason to buy this DVD is simple: one of the most influential films of the 20th century has finally been released in a newly restored, pristine transfer. As an owner of the original DVD release, I can testify that the difference is like night and day.
With every viewing, I come to appreciate Brian DePalma's Scarface more and more. Although not perfect, there is much more right with this film than wrong. It helps to compare it with its countless imitations: where most subsequent crime films rush headlong from one bloody gunfight to the next, Scarface takes its time. Its languid, gliding camera has a certain elegance in the way it reveals story points without relying on clunky Dick-and-Jane dialog or overwrought MTV pyrotechnics. A prime example is the infamous scene where Tony Montana (Al Pacino) attemps to buy two kilos of cocaine from some Coloumbians for his boss, Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). Watch the way the camera drifts from the Miami Beach hotel room, across a peaceful sun-drenched street, over to the car where Tony's associates are waiting for him, then slowly back up to the bathroom window, where the sound of the idling chainsaw grows louder. Creepy. Insinuating. It's comparable to the best work of Hitchcock - a day-lit nightmare where the ordinary becomes sinister. Watch closely as the Columbian dismembers Tony's friend limb by limb. In spite of the scene's reputation, we never actually see what's happening. Like the shower murder in Psycho, all the violence is implied - so strongly, in fact, that DePalma had to fight the MPAA in a well-publicized battle to keep Scarface from receiving an X rating.
It's interesting the way that the improved picture and sound seem to contribute to every aspect of the film. Subtleties in Pacino's largely unsubtle performance become clear. We can better see what he does with his face in those famously shadowy close-ups; the way he registers what he's thinking privately, even as he swaggers with exaggerated bravado. Where once it seemed he was over-acting at times, it is now apparent that he was carefully playing his character's machismo against a darker undercurrent of great hunger - so intense that it defies articulation. Tony Montana's great tragedy is his utter lack of self-knowlege. Beneath the clouds of cordite and testosterone, he is so painfully needy that he will draw everyone around him into a decaying orbit of destruction. He is a criminal, but he is not immoral. He is a black hole of a man, a vacuous human being whose desires eclipse whatever soul that a life of deprivation and decay may have left him. He acts without apology, or even much thought. He's an animal in both the best and worst senses of the word. The tragedy is not so much that he is killed at the end - he brings that on himself - it is that so many others, not least the addicts that buy his product, must suffer and die as well. It's downright Shakespearean, but with (lots of) f-words in place of gilded Elizabethan speech.
Once you get past those 160-odd f-variants, Oliver Stone's screenplay begins to seem as thoughtful as it is blunt. The language is harsh, but also truthful, with plenty of quotable lines (though you would not want to quote them in polite company).
The improved sound mix also brings into relief something that I had always looked upon as a liability of Scarface - the very "80's" music score, which had always seemed to me the newer equivalent of those ham-handed "jazz" scores from certain 50's melodramas like Man With the Golden Arm. But now the music seems "dated" more in the way of an early James Bond score; it is appropriate to the era. Were Scarface made now, it would still be a legitimate choice of styles.
The extras are thorough, though the "making of" documentary seems to be a longer version of the one from the original DVD release. There is also a documentary on Scarface's considerable influence on hip-hop music, but I smell an Obvious Plug for a CD of music "inspired" by the film. (The package insert proclaims that it's In Stores Now! from DefJam records.)
In any case, Scarface has finally received its due respect in a form that showcases the late John Alonso's brightly-hued, yet somehow gritty cinematography. Alonso also photographed the sumptuous Chinatown. This DVD is also a tribute to him - a master of light and shadow, whose old-fashioned, hard-lit chiaroscuro images contributed in no small way to Scarface's status as a modern classic.
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
While I own the 2 disc Standard Def set that came out a few years ago, I thought I would buy this Blu Ray edition without the Digital Copy. Very glad to have made the purchase.
In past version I often wondered why it appeared so blanched out, especially in the early scenes as Tony Montana, Manny, Angel and a friend were going to do the deal with the Columbians. The new Blu Ray edition brings back all the color and vitality to the original image and stays vital though out the film. The Blu Ray version truly has provided a significant improvement over previous Scarface releases. It's not perfect, there is some grain here and there, easy to see in the sky shots and when the cement walls are in the shots. However, this grain is not exceedingly so and does not distract, nor is it there in most of the film. At the end of the movie, as Tony and associates bring Gina back to his mansion after Tony kills Manny, there is a wide shot of the red carpeted staircase. I did notice some aliasing at the bottom of the staircase, but as the camera zooms in, it goes away. Red has always been a very difficult color to reproduce which is why it is rarely used in credits as it can cause stair-stepping and aliasing, however, this was the only instance where I saw any and it last but a few seconds.
The blu ray transfer is really very, very good.
The two disc Standard Def version used DTS 5.1 audio while the Blu Ray provides 7.1 DTSHD audio. The score is spread very nicely though out the entire speaker system,(mine is 5.1) however, there really is very little use of any of the channels for discreet directionality making the 7.1 possibilities only useful for the music score itself. Audio always seems to get the short end of the financial straw in film releases and transfers, and Scarface is no different. There were plenty of opportunities for surround foley fx in the riot at the holding camp as well as the final mansion shootout. Sides and rears are sometimes used for slight panning of the vehicles and not much more. The dialogue is clear and properly leveled so once you set your volume you should not have to reset at any time.
The video transfer and movie gets 5 stars from me, while the audio gets 3.
All my movie reviews are of this nature and focus only on the quality of the transfer to BluRay so check them and see if they are of help as well.
Hopefully, this review has been of some help to you in determining your purchase, hope I am on the correct path with a review of the transfer quality as opposed to providing plot summaries.
43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2000
"Scarface" is one of the greatest of all mob movies. It's an epic crime drama done with style and care. Brian DePalma presents a film that ignites the screen with a great screenplay by Oliver Stone and an amazing performance by Al Pacino. Unlike "The Godfather," which was more about family and relationships between father and son, "Scarface" is an exhilarating and intriguing journey into Miami's mob underworld, seen through the eyes of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee with some of the greatest lines in movie history. The degree of excess here is brilliantly done and adds even more realism to a great work. DePalma shows a wonderful touch of style in the sets, costumes, cars, even in the violence. Look at the brilliant eye for composition he shows in a scene where an assassination attempt is carried out on Tony in a nigh club. The movie is full of that Latin style and intensity. The screeenplay By Oliver Stone is brilliant because it's complex in the way in which we are not just interested in the action, but characters and events as well. We really care about what happens with these people, least of all Tony. Pacino gives one of the greatest and most intense performances, always believable. He steals the show entirely through his accent and facial expressions. The action sequences aren't dim-witted, but smart and stylish. "Scarface" vibrates with style and realism like few gangster dramas have. It stands as a masterpiece. One of the greatest crime pictures of all time.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Brian De Palma's epic blood soaked remake of the 1932 Paul Muni gangster classic may not have gotten all the critical acclaim in the world, but it stands as a landmark performance of the great Al Pacino. Pacino brings to the screen one of his most well known characters in his career as Tony Montana; a cuban refugee who rises to power in Miami's cocaine underworld. Along with him is his best friend Manny (Steve Bauer) and the two begin working for Frank (Robert Loggia), a slimy, manipulative excess driven drug kingpin whose wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) Tony soon develops an obsession for. Oliver Stone wrote the script and helped make Tony one of the most unforgettable characters in all of American cinema. Scarface has since become a cult classic and contains some of the most memorable lines of dialogue in film, not to mention the most rampant use of profanity that would not be topped for years to come. The only problem I ever had with Scarface was it's length; clocking in at nearly 3 hours, there are times when the film drags, but that is only a minor complaint. All in all, if you want to see one of Al Pacino's finest performances (aside from Devil's Advocate, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, or anything beginning with the title The Godfather), then consider Scarface essential viewing, but be warned, this is not a film for all tastes.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2001
On Barbra Walter's interview with Al Pacino several years ago she said that this was Pacino's favorite role. But this film stands on its own despite this proclamation. This is an underworld's rags to riches story with one of the greatest endings to a film ever!
Pacino plays a Cuban refugee thug , Tony Montana , who claws and scracthes(taking some lives along the way) to the top of the cocaine world in Miami with the help of his right hand man Manny Ray(Steven Bauer).
Pacino plays this part with such passion and energy that he absolutely fuels this film from beginning to end. You can't take your eyes off the man. He adds humanistic dimensions to Tony Montana. He shows Montana's humor , machismo , intelligence , leadership , guts , and flaws. He even shows Montana's tender side(the scene with Michelle Pfeiffer at poolside). Pacino actually gets you to like a character who is basically a sleezeball. Now that is acting!
There are memorable moments throughout this film and some are very graphic but what is probably the highlight moment of this film is the great shoot 'em up scene at the end ; Sosa's hitmen infiltrating Montana's estate to kill him because Montana botched a major hit for Sosa. When Montana , full of cocaine , finally refocus his attention to the hitmen he fights back in complete defiance to them with a machine gun/grenade launcher. "Say hello to my little friend!" is now one of those famous movie lines of film history. He blast them away like dominoes , withstanding the awesome gunfire because of the cocaine in his system. This is a real "guy's" scene. It's action fueled by high octane adrenaline and Pacino plays it beyond belief. His performance is so elating that you want to grab a machine gun and fight along side him. Pacino IS Scarface!
The DVD comes with great perks like theatrical trailers , production notes , cast and filmaker bio's , the making of SCARFACE(with Pacino) , and 10 outtakes from the film. The film is letterboxed but is not digitally enhanced. It would've been nice to see the film enhanced but it doesn't hurt the experience of watching this film. In fact I don't really care. It's SCARFACE!
53 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Brian De Palma's blood soaked gangster epic is on DVD, once again. I'll say this right off the bat, if you own the previously released Special Edition of Scarface, there's no reason to run out and buy this Platinum Edition, which has an assortment of previously released extras to go along with a counter for how many times the "F" word is used and how many bullets are fired. Besides that, there's nothing here that hasn't been seen before, but if you don't already own Scarface on DVD, well then, this is worth picking up. As for the film itself, it's a bloody crime epic featuring one of Al Pacino's best, and most infamous, performances as Cuban hood turned drug kingpin Tony Montana; but chances are, you already know all that. The DVD's picture quality looks cleaner, and the "remastered and remixed" sound is crisper as well, but whether or not you want to lay down the cash for this depends on how many times you've been suckered into buying the movie.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2003
Since it's release in 1983, Brian De Palma's "Scarface" has become of the definitive cult classics of American movies, it's excesses have so imprinted themselves into popular culture that it's influence can be found in everything from clothing to popular lingo ("say hello to my little friend!") to rap music and rap videos. And yet, this is not a poorly executed movie, this is a brilliantly excessive crime drama filled with the kind of stylish, gritty quality that made films like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" equally effective (eventhough "Scarface" probably still stands as the bloodiest, edgiest film of it's kind). The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone before he became a visceral, provocative director and during the period when he was letting go of that notorious vice known as cocaine, he hung around with real Colombian gangsters and there is a unique authenticity to the film in it's violence and scenarios that helps it paint a portrait of the darker side of the American dream. Al Pacino is merciless and unforgettable as Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant arriving on Miami's shores and ready to make big bucks and finds his answer with the world of drug trafficking. Watching the film, it is no wonder why Tony Montana has become such a potent figure in popular movie culture, he is a great character, so alluring in his perversity that the word "villain" seems too cartoonish for him. His accent is catchy and his clothes cool and colorful (Stone recently commented on how Montana's style in dress and jewelry can be seen reflected in African-American culture). The film is famous for it's scenes of violence, including a victim chained to a shower and killed with a chainsaw. Director Brian DePalma, not really known for excess gloriously lavishes in it here and films his movie with style and gusto, "Scarface" is unique because it feels like it was made with real respect for the material. Consider that you have one of Hollywood's future greatest directors writing the script and one of American film's most stylish talents directing and on top of that, an iconic actor in the lead role. Even the moody main theme is composed by none other than Giorgio Moroder. The ending is especially deliciously bloody, as if a normal shoot-out is for sissies. "Scarface" remains a potent movie because it has themes we can all relate to, we all want wealth, power and at least one beautiful woman, "Scarface" asks the question of what extremes would one go to to achieve wealth, and is it worth anything when it is dirty money?
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2011
Since most people browsing this product have seen this film, this review will focus on the Blu-Ray's special features and video quality.
First off, the visuals of the remastered Blu-Ray are amazing. Watching the Blu-Ray in Hi Def offers you vivid colors, and detail that allows you to spot the smallest beads of sweat on character's faces. While the new edition does offer 7.1 audio, it's more noticeable with respect to the film's music, not as much to spoken dialogue.
The Blu-Ray comes in a special Steelbook metal case, and includes 10 collectible cards with a variety of Scarface graphic artwork. It also includes a bonus disc of the original 1932 film of the same name, which the 1983 version borrows a few elements from.
The good news is that the Blu-Ray contains plenty of extras. The bonus area starts with three-part featurette titled "The Scarface Phenomenon," a mini-documentary that explores how the film became so ingrained with pop culture. It features commentary from Scarface fanatic Eli Roth of Inglourious Basterds, as well as Cuban rapper Sen Dog of Cypress Hill.
The World of Tony Montana offers an interesting look at the lives and lifestyles of the 1980's Cocaine Cowboys. Everyone from DEA agents to local law enforcement comment on the film, as well as their personal perceptions of serious coke dealing.
I was a bit disappointed that the TV Version segment only lasted a few minutes. Clips of the rated R version and the TV edits are played back to back to comic effect. While a funny addition, it could have been much longer.
One of the most interesting featurettes is The Making of Scarface: The Video Game. I'm a big fan of the 2006 Scarface PC game, so it was fun to get a glimpse of the voice actors involved with the project. There is recording studio footage of Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia, Ice-T, Cheech & Chong, Anthony Anderson, Michael York, Sen Dog, Tommy Lee, Ling Bai, Wilmer Valderrama, and Jillian Barberie. The feature offers brief clips of project comments by several of the actors involved, from Michael Rapaport to James Woods. Various executives of both Radical Entertainment and Vivendi also lend their insight on how the game reflected the spirit of the film, as well as Tony's own "morals."
Not all of the extras are new features, however. The Deleted Scenes segment is a great addition to the Blu-Ray, although it was available on previously released DVDs. "The Creating" contains older clips of the film's producer and director discussing why most of the film had to be shot outside of Florida, and their struggle to avoid an "X" rating.
In the bonus feature "The Acting," there are interview accounts of how Pacino, Bauer, and Pfeiffer were cast for the film, and how those actors were able to prepare for their roles. The Rebirth featurette includes comments from De Palma, Martin Bregman, Oliver Stone and Al Pacino on how the original 1932 Scarface provided inspiration for their own take on an epic gangster film.
I only have two serious complaints about the Limited Edition release of this film for Blu-Ray. The first is that there's still no audio commentary by Brian De Palma or Oliver. My other gripe is that all of Pacino's interview clips were noticeably old. While his comments were a solid addition to the Blu-Ray, it would have been nice to get fresh feedback. Recycling clips doesn't just apply to Pacino, there are also a few segments that use noticeably dated footage of producer Martin Bregman.
Overall, the Limited Edition Blu-Ray is an excellent film to enjoy in high definition. The visuals are sharper than you've ever seen them, and there are plenty of bonus features to give you a better understanding of this cult classic. If you consider yourself a Scarface fan, absolutely add this one to your collection.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Having seen the previous Scarface (starring Paul Muni) many years ago, I was curious to see what director Brian De Palma would do with what I incorrectly assumed to be essentially similar material. In fact, De Palma co-authored a script (with Oliver Stone) and created a film which shares almost nothing in common with its predecessor. Al Pacino is brilliant as Tony Montana, a vicious and impoverished Cuban immigrant who eventually becomes a wealthy drug lord in Miami. Along the way, he eliminates or alienates family members and friends as well as his underworld enemies. Montana's destiny is perhaps summarized by the ancient aphorism "live by the sword....die by the sword." For me, the most memorable scene involves a power saw in the bathroom of an apartment in which a drug deal fails. Others include Tony's sudden acts of violence in response to real or imagined threats to his supremacy ("manhood") and the final sequence when his heavily-guarded mansion is invaded by assassins as he snorts his way through a mound of cocaine on his desk. Steven Bauer is especially effective as Montana's best friend Manny. Other strong performances are provided by Michelle Pfeiffer (Elvira), Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez), and F. Murray Abraham (Omar). This is among the nastiest and bloodiest of gangster films. There is a rationale for most of the violence in the Godfather films whereas in this Scarface, Montana's behavior seems instinctive and is therefore more upsetting. (The same is true of the characters played by Joe Pesci in Goodfellas and Casino.) In 1932, director Howard Hawks wanted to portray a fictional character (Tony Clamonte) based on Al Capone without in any sense romanticizing the criminality which the real "Scarface" personified. Decades later, De Palma examines with surgical skill how the American Dream for so many immigrants becomes an American Nightmare for Montana and for almost everyone with whom he is associated.