Movie Review: Scarface

Posted: February 12, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Gonna be a short one today.

Screen capture HATES red.

Scarface (1984 Universal Dir. Brian DePalma)

These are NOT Good Eats.

You know how sometimes you hear about a movie for so long that you begin to doubt its awesomeness? And then you watch the movie, and you see some of the seminal scenes and you are left with an overwhelming sense of “That’s it?” Welcome to my experience with Scarface. Not a bad movie, not at all, but nowhere near what I had been led to expect. Not as bloody, not as cool, not as awesome I’m afraid. However, still a good movie, even if Al Pacino brings all the Hoo-Ha he ever had with him.

Will you LOOK at this wall?

Actually, for all the expectations, what I found was an interesting little movie about a Cuban gangster who fights and kills his way to the top of the Miami drug scene and then brings it all crashing down around his ears. One of the things I was expecting to find, a shallow bunch of screaming, didn’t actually come true either. There is a depth to this movie, that isn’t even hinted at when you look at all the people who list this movie as an influence. It’s a fairly tightly written piece, well directed and pretty well acted.

No, really. LOOK at this wall!

There are problems though. One of the problems is that Al Pacino is so over the top that it gives a frightening glimpse into the Hoo-Ha years that would follow and soon become a millstone around his neck. Yes, Tony Montana is supposed to be flashy and ruthless, but he’s played so very much at the edge that it strains believability in places. Particularly the end shoot out is so over the top that all you can do is roll your eyes, look at the cat, and explain that this is no where near as cool as you had been told. On that note, what was the big deal with the chainsaw scene? I’ve seen tougher stuff on Sunday morning PBS. Granted, my PBS station is probably a lot different than yours, but still it wasn’t much of a scene really. I was expecting a lot more.

Drug dealers are VERY glamorous.

It is a good movie to watch if you want to know about the dark side of the 80s though. The excess, the drugs, the fashions, the screwy walls with beach scenes and silhouettes of palm trees painted on them… it’s all there. This does make a person whose idea of gangsters was formed with Goodfellas and Casino want to turn their nose up a little though. Too much of the movie is operatic and over the top that even when you know some things are based on fact, they come off feeling fake or at least less than honest.

Please to greet my small companion.

This is also a drug movie though and not just a gangster movie. While Tony sells cocaine, he’s also using it, which means we see him passing through all the stages of a cocaine habit, missing out the redemption and recovery part of course. In the end, Tony ends up the way all the rough and ready cowboys end, albeit without the same level of reality. Still, a good movie, just not a great one.

AAAAAAND, then he shoots everybody. Screen caps of muzzle flashes are easy with this movie, because it has so many.

The copy of the DVD that came with this set is the Platinum Edition, and comes with all the special features that would be on with those two discs if you bought this on its own. That means a fist full of documentaries about the movie on disc two. On disc one there is a score card that will help you keep track of F-bombs and guns shots… because you need that sort of thing, clearly. I never knew how empty my life was before I could tally the profanity and bullets in this film. I can just stop writing this review now, on the strength of that, you don’t need anymore reason to rush out and buy this NOW!

There is your gangster kids. Dead, in the pool.
Official Score:
25 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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