Plot: What’s it about?
The streets of Miami have been become flooded with immigrants, thanks to a move by Fidel Castro that sent refugees, many criminals, to the United States. With these new arrivals came a rush of crime, one which seems to only be gaining more and more momentum. One of the refugees sees this as a chance to stake his claim, a man named Tony Montana (Al Pacino). He gained his freedom through violence and now that he is free, he plans to use violence to create his vision of what life should be. At the side of Montana, a hitman by trade, is his best friend Manolo (Steven Bauer) and together, they soon begin to move toward taking a piece of the pie, the prosperous drug business that runs in Miami. Tony doesn’t want to waste time, so he rises through the criminal ranks thanks to his ruthless nature and cunning mind. He has his honor, but if someone crosses him or stands in his way, mercy is hard to come by. He has lived life at the bottom of the food chain and he refuses to relent until he reaches the top, regardless of bloodshed along the way. But even if Tony reaches the top, will his excessive ambition ever allow him to stop and if not, can he fend off those who want to take his place?
Universal’s Anniversary Edition of Scarface was a great release, but there was a glaring problem. The transfer had been improved by leaps and bounds, but the soundtrack was the same old song and dance, not the remix heard in the theatrical re-release. With this new Platinum Edition, that error has been corrected, with both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. The transfer is also a touch enhanced, but not enough to rejoice over, while supplements remain about the same. So should fans upgrade? If you love surround sound, then without question, as the audio this time around is a whole new experience. But if you’re satisfied with mono, then don’t bother, as the sound is the only real upgrade with this revisitation. As for the movie itself, well I would think we’ve all seen it by now and feel the need to own this epic. Al Pacino as Tony Montana is one of cinema’s most memorable performances and the movie has influence artists of all kinds. Scarface is as violence and profane as a movie can be, soaked in blood and buried under bullets. But it is also a masterpiece of direction and performances, leaving me to highly, highly recommend it as a purchase.
Video: How does it look?
Scarface is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a new transfer and while it does offer some improvements, the upside is minimal at best. The image is a little sharper and colors a touch more refined, but probably not to the extent fans might expect. The print is clean and grain is never an issue, same as with the previous transfer. As I said, colors are improved a little, while contrast is smooth and consistent. In short, this transfer looks great and fans should be pleased. But at the same time, it isn’t the kind of jump in quality that some might want.
Audio: How does it sound?
While the video might not have been a giant leap in quality over the previous edition, the audio is all that and so much more. The soundtrack has been totally restored and remastered, with so much more life and punch than before. The movie won’t seem new by any means, but the gunshots now resonate where before they sounded flat, while explosions are more dynamic and effective. I know it doesn’t seem like much, making gunfire more impressive, but in a movie like Scarface, gunshots and explosions are quite crucial. I loved the new Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks, though as usual, the DTS option has a slight edge. This release also includes the original mono soundtrack.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A lot of the extras found here have been ported over from the previous release, such as twenty minutes of deleted scenes, several featurettes and a look at how broadcast television alters the film’s content. In a welcome gesture, the hip hop featurette has been removed, though in its place is a look at how the Scarface video game was produced. The lone new supplement is the Scarface Scorecard, which you can turn on if you want to see a running count on bullets fired or “f-bombs” dropped.