Scarface (1983)

Pacino's tooled-up, coke-headed '80s gangster icon makes his Blu-ray bow

If the 1980s were truly the decade of excess, then no film better encapsulates that than Scarface. With a script by Oliver Stone, direction by Brian De Palma and a barnstorming central performance by Al Pacino, this loose remake of Howard Hawks’ acclaimed 1930s gangster film is anything but subtle as it plays out the almost Shakespearean tragedy of Tony Montana, a small-time hood from Cuba who arrives in Florida with dreams of making it big, only to end up self-destructing under the weight of his ego, a mountain of cocaine and some rather odd feelings for his sister. Great stuff.

Picture: This Blu-ray edition of Scarface is definitely an improvement on past DVD incarnations, but it’s not without some problems. The most obvious issue is the somewhat digital appearance of the grain that runs rampant in every shot. Now, this could be due to the VC-1 codec struggling to accurately resolve the film grain, giving the image a rather thick look that makes fine detailing problematic at times. However, there’s also some signs of noise reduction and sharpening in some scenes, making me think that Universal has been up to its old tricks once again.

With all that said, there are still plenty of positives to take away from the 2.40:1 1080p encode, especially when it’s watched in motion. Despite the issues mentioned above, detailing is always above average thanks to good delineation, and the colour reproduction is simply excellent – really making the most of the hideously gaudy ‘80s fashions and love of pink neon.
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: The Blu-ray arrives with two audio options, a lossy DTS 2.0 mix and a new DTS-HD MA 7.1 remix. The former is obviously closer to the original track, but sounds rather shrill at times with a fairly harsh top-end. Thankfully, the new 7.1-channel remix is generally sympathetic to the source material. As well as offering a much more balanced tonal range in the dialogue and sound effects, the use of surrounds is mainly there to focus on subtle atmospheric effects and enhancing the film’s score. At least, that’s how it goes until Chapter 34 and Tony’s last stand. At this point the entire 7.1 mix kicks up a gear, with the sound of bullets flying all around you and high impact bass accompanying the handful of explosions.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: In addition to a healthy roster of extras sourced from earlier DVD incarnations (including deleted scenes, featurettes about the TV version of the film and the spin-off videogame, and Laurent Bouzereau’s original 2001 three-part documentary), Universal has come up with some wonderful new features for this Blu-ray.

Bouzereau contributes a new three-part retrospective with the likes of De Palma, critic Julie Salamon, producer Martin Bregman, filmmakers Eli Roth and Keith Gordon, and many more weighing in on Scarface’s impact and legacy. Even better is the new U-Control picture-in-picture track, where the same faces are joined by Oliver Stone and Al Pacino for more detail about the making of the film. This excellent track also includes footage from the TV version and the 1932 original for comparison, plus alternate takes from the ‘Say chello to my leetle friend’ scene. Also included are a Scarface Scorecard (that counts the number of gunshots and ‘F-bombs’ in the film), My Scenes, a BD-Live link and D-Box Motion Code.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: A strong, but not perfect, Blu-ray outing for De Palma’s ‘80s gangster classic

Universal Pictures, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £25 approx, On sale now