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, and the disc’s HDR added vivacity to all the colors.
Blacks were fine, with good density, and low-light elements came across fairly well. HDR brought stronger contrast and whites to the package. The transfer worked well.
Downcoverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1, I thought the DTS X 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 4K UHD compare to the 2019 Blu-ray? This disc’s DTS X audio showed a bit more oomph than the Blu-ray’s 7.1 mix, and visuals offered superior delineation, colors and blacks. Most of the improvements relate to the stronger capabilities of 4K UHD, but this still became an upgrade.
Only one extra appears on the 4K UHD itself: 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 Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino, Steven 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.
More material appears on the included Blu-ray copy, 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.
On a separate Blu-ray Disc, we get the 1932 Version of Scarface. As presented here, we can view either the “Original Theatrical” cut (1:33:29) or an “Alternate Censored” edition (1:35:34).
These differ in how they end. To avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss specifics, but the “Censored” version goes with a more formal law enforcement-based finale.
As for the film itself, it doesn’t hold up as well as I’d like. While it comes with some good moments – and remains a hugely important genre effort – the 1932 Scarface can feel as campy and over the top as the 1983 one.
Even given the movie’s age, the visuals of the 1932 Scarface seemed lackluster. On the positive side, the image failed to suffer from any print flaws, a minor miracle due to the flick’s vintage.
However, the film felt awfully soft much of the time. Some shots offered decent to good delineation, but a lot of it looked fuzzy and ill-defined.
Blacks were generally fairly deep, but whites tended to be too bright at times, and this negatively impacted contrast. While watchable, the image disappointed.
Audio seemed adequate for a project from 1932. Speech lacked natural tones and could seem strident, but the lines remained intelligible and reasonably concise.
Music didn’t appear often, and these elements tended to seem too bright and harsh. The same went for effects, as those sounded a bit rough and without range. None of these issues surprised, so expect a perfectly average soundtrack for an 87-year-old film.
If you prefer not to bother with the “Censored” version, you can watch the Alternate Ending on its own. It runs 10 minutes, 38 seconds and gives us the same finale seen in that “Censored” cut. It’s not bad on its own, but the original ending works better.
Finally, the 1932 film comes with a two-minute, 22-second Introduction by Film Historian Robert Osborne. He gives us some useful notes about the movie and its various versions/woes.
As part of this Limited Edition set, we get a replica statue. This offer s miniature copy of the “World Is Yours” figure seen in the film. Major Scarface fans will like it.
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 4K UHD provides very good picture and somewhat inconsistent audio along with a fairly nice set of supplements bolstered by the original version of the film. I don’t get the movie’s appeal, but this turns into the best video version of it.
To rate this film visit the original review of SCARFACE