" ...It is unquestionably a testament to everything that made the 80's great. "
Title: Scarface Platinum Edition by Universal Studios
Format: Classic Crime Re-Release DVD
Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo
Though it seems
inconceivable to me that there is actually someone reading this review to try
and decide whether or not to see Scarface, my obstinate editor has demanded
a synopsis of the movie anyways. So, bear with me, but I have no choice but
to begin there.
The easiest way to describe Scarface is to say that it is the inspiration for every drug-lord gangster piece that's been done since…well…ever. It, both in its 1980's incarnation and the original that dates back to 1932, is the not-so-subtle inspiration for innumerable later movies and genre defining games like Grand Theft Auto.
It's the story of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who arrives at the height of Castro's mass-criminal migration to Miami, and sets up shop as a coke dealer. As he rises from lackey to thug to number two man of his mentor and boss Robert Loggia, he manages to piss off pretty much everyone he comes in contact with while simultaneously suffering from delusions of psychotic grandeur. The closer he gets to drug czar, the more his life spirals out of control, and the more paranoid and withdrawn he becomes…which eventually leads to his former allies turning on him and a contract being taken out on his life.
As a piece of cinema, Scarface is an interesting mix of Regan-era social commentary and plain, old fashioned, horrific 1980's brutality. Crass in a way most mainstream movies could only dream of being (part of the extras in this special edition is a F-word counter…and I won't ruin it by telling you how many over 150 there are) and so violent it would make Leatherface cringe, it is unquestionably a testament to everything that made the 80's great.
That said, I have a pretty hard time calling it a good movie. I do love it. I love it like I love footage of cattle goring people during the running of the bulls in Spain. It is, without a doubt, a quintessential guy movie, and a must see for any budding juvenile delinquents out there…but from the hollow writing to the over acting, and the tedious direction to the painfully long 170 minute runtime, there is a reason the critics of the day gave Scarface a big pass.
But, as I said at the beginning of this review, I'm guessing that the majority of you didn't need a four paragraph synopsis on the movie and just want to know about the latest edition. So, here's the skinny on the special features.
For most people, the appeal for the Platinum Edition will be two fold: first, it is unquestionable the best version of the movie to be released to date. Second, it has a ton of extra goodies.
Starting with the latter, the extras are both hit and miss. With a number that have already appeared on earlier editions, and several that you just won't care about (does anyone really give a rat's ass about the making of the video game? How many times are you really gonna watch that?), the package isn't necessarily as robust as it looks…but with some really fascinating behind the scenes stuff and interviews with the cast, fans of the flick will find plenty here to thrill them.
The bigger deal to me, though, was the digital remastering of the original. The picture is about as good as can be expected for something on thirty year old film stock, but the audio upgrade is stunning. The gunshots are enhanced, the audio is retouched, and the entire thing is refined into surround sound goodness. Although, given the movie's original porn-like soundtrack, part of me wishes they'd gone the extra step and had it re-scored, too.
Still, all in all, it's a classic movie remade about as best as it can be for the modern age.
The Good: A classic movie with some fun extras in this new edition.
The Bad: : "Classic" does not necessarily equal "great".
The Overall Ugly: Who are you kidding…if you've read this review, you're going to buy this movie…so stop wasting my time and go do it.
What it's Worth: Market