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Brian De Palma
Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Writing Credits:
Oliver Stone

Cuban immigrant Tony Montana finds wealth, power and passion beyond his wildest dreams at a price he never imagined.

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$4,597,536 on 996 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English DTS 2.0
French DTS Monaural
Spanish DTS Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 170 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/15/2019

• “35 Anniversary Reunion” Panel
• “The Scarface Phenomenon” Documentary
• Deleted Scenes
• “The World of Tony Montana” Featurette
• “The Rebirth” Featurette
• “The Acting” Featurette
• “The Creating” Featurette
• “The Making of Scarface: The Video Game” Featurette
• “Scarface: The TV Version” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Scarface: Gold Edition [Blu-Ray] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 22, 2019)

Though largely panned in 1983, Brian De Palma’s version of Scarface built a major audience over the years. Nowadays it seems to be regarded as something of a classic and many see it as one of Brian De Palma's best films.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve given the movie occasional reassessments, and I’ve never gotten its appeal. I find Scarface to be a bloated, superficial, and simply dull excuse for an action drama.

Set in 1980, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) comes to the US from Cuba. He initially finds himself relegated to a refugee camp, but when he commits a murder to benefit criminal kingpins, he gets out of this location.

With his foot in the door, Tony works his way up the criminal ranks. He eventually becomes a drug lord in his own right and he struggles to stay on top in this violent business.

My greatest complaint with Scarface involves its one-dimensional characters. Not a one shows any signs of development over the film's nearly three hours, and most don't register much of an impact.

Oh, we see a lot of Tony, but we never get any real insight into his personality. He goes from small time hood to millionaire drug boss in fairly short order, but we don't learn a whole lot about him, and it feels improbable to me that Montana would succeed like he does.

Tony doesn't appear especially smart or clever, and while his will seems strong, we see no indications that he's any more committed than anyone else in his line of work. Nonetheless, he reaches the top with little apparent effort.

Pacino earned a lot of praise over his career, and many find his portrayal of Montana to be one of his best pieces of work. That list does not include me.

Pacino’s acting goes way over the top and enters the realm of caricature. That "Jose Jimenez"-caliber Cuban accent doesn't help, either. Pacino used to be a good actor, but he tends toward the hammy side of the street, and this performance demonstrates that bent.

Cartoony though he may be, at least Montana registers strongly with the audience. The same cannot be said for most of the other characters.

Manny Ray (Steven Bauer) acts as Montana's second in charge, and Bauer receives significant screen time. However, the character's a virtual cipher - I've seen lint that made a more powerful impression. When he's onscreen, he might as well be back in his trailer, because his presence carries absolutely no weight.

Michelle Pfeiffer fares better in her woefully underdeveloped role as love interest Elvira, but not much better. She offers an appropriately jaded and bitter turn in the role, but she seems to be in the film as a symbol more than as a participant, so Elvira's there just as a token to represent Tony's level of achievement.

Ultimately, I think that Scarface fails as a film not just because of the weak characters or the sketchy script but mainly because I never feel in the least bit involved in the story. Stuff happens, lives progress, and so what?

I never experience any interest or investment in anything that occurs. Tony's rise to power simply seems like such a de facto occurrence, with so little action or interest along the way, that I don't care where he goes.

When Scarface first came out, a lot of the controversy and negativity that surrounded the film mainly involved the allegedly graphic nature of the picture. As De Palma discusses in the disc’s supplements, the studio had to wage a bitter struggle to keep the movie from receiving an "X" rating due to the violence and the language.

Maybe I was just too bored to notice, but I didn't think the movie seemed overly offensive. Yeah, I guess we do hear lots of profanity, but since it makes sense within the film's world, it doesn't offer any shock value and it's just there.

The violence doesn’t seem overtly shocking, either. Most of it is implied rather than shown, and those scenes occupy a relatively small portion of the movie anyway.

All of these factors leave Scarface as a long, slow journey to nowhere. The movie’s continued appeal to a large audience mystifies me.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Scarface appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The image provided a largely appealing presentation.

On the positive side, sharpness was usually good and occasionally great. Only a little softness materialized on occasional, and most of that seemed to stem from the original photography, especially because those instances usually manifested during interiors.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt fairly natural, so any use of digital noise reduction appeared minimal, and I witnessed no print flaws.

With its Miami setting, much of the flick took place in bright-lit exteriors, and those tended to look pretty terrific. They boasted lively, dynamic colors and delivered the best clarity. Interiors were less exciting, but they still showed appropriate hues.

Blacks were fine, with good density, and low-light elements came across fairly well. The transfer worked well.

I thought the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Scarface also had its ups and downs. The biggest weakness came from the quality of the audio, as speech could be iffy.

Much of the dialogue seemed reasonably natural, but more than a few lines appeared edgy and rough. Effects lacked distortion but seemed somewhat “canned” and unnatural at times; they didn’t display the greatest level of realism, though they were fine given their age.

The synthesized score worked better. The music showed pretty good pep and dimensionality, though it also could appear somewhat stiff. Still, the score became the strongest aspect of the mix.

A little too strong in terms of soundfield, however. The mix used all the speakers to an active degree, and that was a negative when it came to the music, as the surrounds became too prominent in terms of the score and songs. This was mostly evident during club scenes, but all aspects of the score featured too much activity from the back speakers.

Otherwise the soundscape seemed positive. Effects occasionally came across as a bit too “speaker-specific”, but the channels provided a lot of discrete material that blended well enough overall.

We got vehicles that moved neatly around the room as well as the appropriate pyrotechnics in the action sequences. The track’s negatives left it as a “B-“ mix, but it was still pretty good for its era.

How did the 2019 Blu-ray compare to the prior Blu-ray? Although the 2019 release went with 7.1 audio vs. its predecessor’s 5.1, I didn’t hear any real differences, as they came with the same strengths and weaknesses.

On the other hand, the 2019 Blu-ray offered improved visuals, as it looked tighter, cleaner and more film-like. It lost the earlier disc’s edge haloes and digital noise reduction, so it became a clear upgrade.

Most of the prior BD’s extras appear here, and we begin with The Scarface Phenomenon. Split into three parts, it fills a total of 38 minutes, 34 seconds with notes from director Brian De Palma, producer Martin Bregman, TV hostess Jillian Barberie Reynolds, filmmakers Antoine Fuqua, Keith Gordon, Eli Roth and Billy Corben, authors LA Banks and Ken Tucker, rapper Sen Dog, film critic Julie Salamon, Gomorrah author Roberto Saviano, and actors Robert Loggia, Steven Bauer, Maria Conchita Alonso, Angel Salazar, and Richard Belzer.

The pieces look at reactions to the movie and thoughts about its various elements. We get a little about the production, but most of “Phenomenon” goes over opinions of it.

I like the show when it discusses the movie’s controversies and reception in 1983, but much of “Phenomenon” ends up as general praise for the flick. We get some decent notes but it’s not a great discussion.

16 Deleted Scenes go for a total of 22 minutes, 29 seconds. Don’t expect a lot from these, as they’re closer to outtakes than to true deleted scenes.

They add some little character bits but not much else. The movie already runs way too long, so it’s not a surprise that the leftovers aren’t particularly interesting. I’m sure the flick’s legion of fans will still be happy to check them out, though.

A few featurettes fill out the disc. The World of Tony Montana goes for 11 minutes, 38 seconds and includes notes from Maxim entertainment editor Eric Gillin, XXL lifestyle editor Branden Peters, former DEA undercover agent Jerry Speziale, and DEA special agents Dan Simmons and John Fernandes.

They discuss the Miami of the early 1980s and how Scarface reflected reality. This acts as a decent discussion of the subjects.

In the 10-minute, eight-second The Rebirth, we hear from Bregman, De Palma, actor Al Pacino and screenwriter Oliver Stone. “Rebirth” looks at the adaptation of the original film and the development of the 1983 version. It gives us a tight little glimpse of the flick’s path to the screen and its script.

The Acting goes for 15 minutes, five seconds and features De Palma, Bregman, Pacino, Bauer, and director of photography John A. Alonzo. The show investigates cast, characters and performances. It delivers some useful insights into the topics involved.

For the longest of the featurettes, we get the 29-minute, 35-second The Creating. It offers statements from De Palma, Bregman, Stone, Alonzo, Bauer, and composer Giorgio Moroder.

This one looks at sets and locations, visual design, camerawork and makeup, research and influences, stunts, action and the depiction of violence, characters and performances, music, and ratings issues.

“Creating” is a bit of an odd beast because it acts as a bit of a conglomeration of topics. It’s the closest the Blu-ray has to a standard “making of” program, but it mostly focuses on areas not detailed much elsewhere. Rather than break into all these featurettes, I’d have preferred one comprehensive documentary, but we still learn a fair amount here.

The Making of Scarface: The Video Game lasts 12 minutes, five seconds and includes info from Loggia, Bauer, Reynolds, Universal Studios Consumer Products Group VP Bill Kispert, Vivendi Games executive producer Pete Wanat, Radical Entertainment senior producer Cam Weber, game screenwriter David McKenna, lead character artist Scott Lee, and actors Ice-T, Michael York, Brenda Strong, James Woods, Robert Davi, and Michael Rapaport.

The piece looks at notes about the game’s story and characters as well as aspects of its creation. We find a few decent details here but this is mostly just a long ad for the game – which seems a little odd since it came out back in 2006.

Next we get Scarface: The TV Version. This two-minute, 48-second piece features an intro from Bregman before we see “original/altered” shots from the film. It’s a fun addition.

In addition to all these already-released extras, the 2019 Blu-ray comes with one new feature: a 35h Anniversary Reunion panel. Shot in April 2018 at New York’s Beacon Theatre, this 27-minute, six-second piece provides a chat with director De Palma and actors Pacino, Bauer and actor Michelle Pfeiffer.

We get a discussion of the remake’s path to the screen, the movie’s profanity and its rating, its legacy, themes, and notes from the production.

It’s great to get so many of the film’s principals here, especially since Pfeiffer doesn’t appear elsewhere. The panel offers a fun view of the flick, though Bauer annoys, as he interjects himself into others’ answers too much of the time.

Note that the 2019 Blu-ray drops the interactive “U-Control” feature from the prior Blu-ray. Much of that content essentially appears in the featurettes, but it’s a shame “U-Control” doesn’t reappear here.

Every decade or so, I give 1983’s Scarface a look to see if I can figure out its continued appeal to a pretty big cult audience. As of 2011 – nope! The movie continues to seem bloated and absurd too much of the time. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and somewhat inconsistent audio along with a fairly nice set of supplements. I don’t get the movie’s appeal, but this turns into the best Blu-ray version of it.

To rate this film visit the original review of SCARFACE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main