Scarface might not rank up there with other classics in the crime-drama genre, but it’s a great film combining the talents of Oliver Stone’s scriptwriting and Brian De Palma’s direction, alongside the performances by Pacino, Pfeiffer and Mastrantonio.
— The World is Yours | Limited Edition —
Genre(s): Drama, Crime
Universal | R – 170 min. – $79.98 | October 18, 2019
Date Published: 10/24/2019 | Author: The Movieman
The studio provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.
THE MOVIE — 4.5/5
Plot Synopsis: After getting a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban government official, Tony Montana (AL PACINO) stakes a claim on the drug trade in Miami. Viciously murdering anyone who stands in his way, Tony eventually becomes the biggest drug lord in the state, controlling nearly all the cocaine that comes through Miami. But increased pressure from the police, wars with Colombian drug cartels and his own drug-fueled paranoia serve to fuel the flames of his eventual downfall.
Quick Hit Review: Brian De Palma’s 1983 Scarface is a movie when I saw back a decade plus ago that I didn’t care much for and didn’t see as some sort of gangster/crime-drama classic by any measure. Time is a funny thing because all these later, avoiding any repeat viewings, decided to give it another shot, and while I can’t quite place it as some sort of a classic still preferring the likes of the two Godfather movies and Heat well above, but still found this to be an incredible three-hour operatic opus.
There is so much about Scarface to appreciate. First, Oliver Stone’s screenplay was sharp as a tack in its piercing dialogue (Pacino’s “Bad Guy” speech was amazing) and the plot, while nothing overcomplicated or even original, was still engaging even as we follow Tony Montana, a truly bad dude, and not someone to emulate; off topic but with the whole “controversy” that surrounded Joker, one wonders how much more this film would’ve been eviscerated (and it was at the time) with the Internet and the swamp that is Twitter, not only for the violence but even the charge of cultural appropriation with the very Italian Pacino playing a Cuban…
In any case, with the second viewing of Scarface I did find myself captivated and while the whole rise and fall aspect is hardly anything new, how it was handled with some precision direction by Brian De Palma, who seemed to resist some of his tricks. For his part, Pacino was great, a little over-the-top perhaps but kind of makes sense when Montana is coked up and paranoid, but the performances from the supporting players were great including Steven Bauer as Montana’s loyal-to-a-fault best friend; Michelle Pfeiffer as a feisty gagster’s wife to Robert Loggia’s Frank Lopez whom Montana targets; and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Montana’s little sister, who is absolutely a firestorm and probably deserved an Academy Award nomination.
All in all, Scarface is a fantastic crime-drama that in all likelihood couldn’t be made the same way today (I do know a remake has been in the works for several years, however) but this a fantastic film with some solid performances and an engaging if not also tragic central character.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This “Limited Edition” Gift Set comes with a “The World Is Yours” statuette and inside the box is the movie in a standard 4K case. Inside of this case is a Digital HD code. There is a third disc with the 1932 original.
Scarface: 35th Anniversary Reunion (27:06) is a special conversation, from the Tribeca Film Festival, with Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer as they reflect on the movie over three decades later.
The Scarface Phenomenon (38:34) is split into three parts: “Say Hello to the Bad Guy”, “Pushing the Limit” and “The World & Everything In it”. This featurette has interviews with De Palma, Bauer and others (including filmmakers Eli Roth and Antoine Fuqua) on the success the film had with the audience.
The World of Tony Montana (11:38) looks at some of the real life aspects the film portrays and what was going on at that period in time.
The Rebirth (10:08) — This featurette chronicles the origins of the movie from the 1932 original.
The Acting (15:05) highlights the performances in the film.
The Creating (29:35) is on some of the filmmaking aspects such as shooting in California instead of Miami due to the backlash within the Cuban community and just in general on the creation process.
Deleted Scenes (22:29) — Some scenes, in rough shape, that didn’t make the final cut. Unfortunately these scenes are not split up.
Scarface: The TV Version (2:48) is more of a featurette on how the film was cut to air on television, removing language. Includes some snippets, but would’ve fun to see all of the cuts.
The Making of Scarface: The Video Game (12:05)
VIDEO – 5.0/5
|Scarface comes to 4K Ultra HD presented in its original theatrical 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2160p high-definition transfer (HEVC/H.265 codec). There’s no mention of what kind of restoration was done, if any, but whatever the case, this picture looks great, detail is incredibly sharp with the natural film grain shining through and thanks to the HDR, colors get a nice boost, so those hot pinks and other fluorescents pop up against some of the darker elements. There were no obvious instances of artifacts, aliasing, banding or other flaws.|
AUDIO – 4.25/5
|The movie comes equipped with a DTS:X track which does sound quite good, though can’t say it’s exactly incredible. On the plus side, dialogue does come through the center speaker with good clarity with some modest depth through the front and rear channels and the directional aspects are pretty impressive, like during the gun battle scene at the club. The track is also clear of pops and hisses, while the great 1980s score, alongside “Push it to the Limit” song is nicely outputted quite nicely.|
OVERALL – 4.25/5
Overall, Scarface might not rank up there with other classics in the crime-drama genre, but it’s a great film combining the talents of Oliver Stone’s scriptwriting and Brian De Palma’s direction, alongside the performances by Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack has a good set of features while the audio and video transfers were both very well done.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.