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Scarface (Limited Edition) (1983) Print E-mail
Monday, 29 August 2011
Image“Scarface” is one of those films that just the word conjures up greatest.  There is no reason to go into the making or premise of the film, as it is so widely known.  If by some chance you have been living under a rock for the past 30 years then I’m sure there are numerous reviews of the film itself out there.

Here, we will be focusing on the Blu-ray release and its technical aspects.

This is a monster release for Universal, as one of Brian De Palma’s most respected films.  To put is bluntly though, sadly the Blu-ray release does not quite deliver in terms of video quality.  With so many other catalog titles meticulously restored, “Scarface’s” video transfer is a letdown.

While there are several scenes that look absolutely terrific, there are too many lingering problems to deal with.  First, there is a plethora of edge enhancement applied.  This leaves edges with halos and some ringing throughout the film.  A bigger concern for me though the severe crush that takes place in the black levels.  Noise is prevalent throughout the shadows.  What is worse is that shadow delineation disappears.  Dark atmospheres eat dark objects and we are left with blobs.  Some of this traces back to the film’s roots, but for the most part the boosted contrast levels are to blame.  Finally, it is clear that noise reduction has taken place, leaving a smear across the video image. All that being said, the video quality can be outstanding at times.  Details are strong during the brighter sequences.  You will fine refined textures on faces and costumes.  Fleshtones are good despite the boosted contrast.  With all the information contained on this single BD-50 disc it is shocking that there are not many technical anomalies.  Compression artifacts remain at bay, with the exception of a few brightly lit sky shots.  Banding is also absent.  Colors are probably the most spectacular in this transfer.  The reds will pop from the screen and the oranges provide a great atmosphere to the image.  Overall though, the image is stuffy and plagued with the aforementioned problems.  Better care could have been taken in restoring this classic.

“Scarface” has gone from an original stereo audio mix to 5.1 and now 7.1.  Unfortunately, the two extra channels are not worth Universal’s time in this case.  This is one of the worst uses of 7.1 that I have come across.  Better result could be had from THX’s Ultra2 Cinema mode on your receiver.  That being said, this lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track is a blast.  The dynamics are better than they ever have been.  Dialogue is clean and clear, and well prioritized with the effects.  Music is smooth and bleeds nicely into the surround channels.  The LFE channel steals the show in many sequences.  It will certainly wake the neighbors.  Ambience in the rear channels is engaging and accurate. Although it can disappear at the drop of a hat.  In addition effects are nicely panned and oriented in the rear channels, providing a fully immersive soundscape.  Given the era of the film the overall frequency range of the audio track is decent.  However, some may find that the high frequencies are a bit aggressive due to the original source material.  This is generally expected, but a bit more work could have made this a beautifully restored audio track.

“Scarface” comes to Blu-ray in a steel case and two discs.  The first disc is the Blu-ray with the film and bonus materials.  The second disc is a DVD disc containing the original 1932 “Scarface” film.  A code is included for a downloadable digital copy of the film.  In addition, the steel case contains ten art cards.

There are two U-control tracks on this Blu-ray disc.  The first is a PiP track that contains information about the production, cast, etc.  While fans will enjoy this track, some of the information has been pulled from other extras on the disc.

The second U-Control track is “Scarface Scorecard.”  Is much like the “Big Lebowski” track that keeps track curse words, etc.

“The Scarface Phenomenon” is a three-part documentary that covers the creation of the film, the response to it and how the film has made its way into our culture.

“The Creating” has cast and crew discussing the making of the film.  “The World Of Tony Montana” contains comments about the main character.  “The Rebirth” discusses the original versus the remake.  “The Acting” is fairly self-explanatory.  These four featurettes have been ported from a previous DVD release.

“Scarface: The TV Version” is a brief, awkward piece with snippets from a broadcast version.  “The Making Of Scarface: The World Is Yours” examines the video game.  Finally, there are about a dozen deleted scenes and BD-Live functionality.

“Scarface” isn’t for everyone, but it is undeniable that it has permeated western culture.  Unfortunately, the studio has not given the film the restoration treatment that it deserves.  It could have been worse, but the video quality is not going to impressive videophiles or fans.  Casual film watchers probably will not have a big issue with the video presentation.  While I applaud the studio for their attempt at 7.1, the 5.1 audio track would have been just fine in this case.

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