Scarface review (Blu-ray)

Brian De Palma has tackled many genres over his long-spanning and very successful career in the movie business. Carrie is often lauded as one of the best horror films of all time, while The Untouchables is frequently cited as one of the great crime capers; a genre to which his name has become as synonymous as Francis Ford Coppola's, thanks to The Godfather trilogy. But with so many classics under his belt, which one could possibly be considered his opus? While that is quite a bold question revolving around a bold film-maker, my answer would always be the same: 1983's Scarface, the story of a political refugee in Miami, hellbent on rising through the ranks of the criminal underworld at any cost.

The larger-than-life character of Tony Montana has almost become as big as the film he is immortalised in. Few movies have been built around such strong, memorable and quotable characters as he, and Pacino's brilliant turn as the crazed, drug-addled and unpredictable Cuban is unforgettable. His three-dimensional performance is utterly mesmerising.

Scarface is a pivotal entry into the annals of American cinema. The journey undertaken by audiences is a real rollercoaster ride. For the best part of three hours, we gaze at a rich tapestry of raw, unrelenting emotion that festers beneath the skin of a man who has been polluted by his vices and broken by his own aspirations. Scarface is about the pursuit of the American dream, and the ambitions that became an American nightmare.

The picture quality of this Blu-ray fluctuates between being fresh and vibrant to downright sloppy with an overabundance of grain at but a moment's notice, although this is certainly the best the film has ever looked and is absolutely worth a look. If you have never before seen this true masterpiece, you owe it to yourself to do so.

EXTRAS ★★?? The Scarface Phenomenon: a 40-minute documentary; 22 minutes worth of deleted scenes; The World of Tony Montana: law enforcers discuss the real life underworld of '80s Miami; The Rebirth: cast and crew talk about the inspiration for the film and the Howard Hawks original; The Acting: a 15-minute feature on the movie's amazing performances; The Creating; The Making of Scarface: The Video Game; Scarface: The TV Version: examples of the often hilarious changes made to the violence and profanity in the film for its debut on network television; plus BD-Live access and U-Control features: picture-in-picture video commentary and an on-screen scorecard that takes count of the gunshots and F-bombs, which would certainly be beneficial to anyone playing a Scarface drinking game, not that anyone could survive such a thing.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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