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Say hello to my little friend’

Mark Bemenderfer | Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The chainsaw is a rather unappreciated instrument in cinema history. It has made appearances in many genre-defining films, such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as several cult hits such as the Evil Dead trilogy. A chainsaw adds a very visceral element to a film for obvious reasons, and it is used in the superior film, Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma, once again to great effect.Many people are reading this article, and quietly saying to themselves, “Chainsaw… Scarface…. wtf?”. Those would be the people who have not seen the movie. The chainsaw scene is one of the most infamous scenes in the entire movie, and I will not spoil it for those who have not yet watched it. However, I will say that the portion of the film in which it was used was the turning point for the protagonist, Tony Montana, and the movie would not have been the same with its absence.Scarface is a dark, violent movie chronicling the rise and fall of Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino in an over-the-top performance. It is a grim portrayal of the 1980s underworld with violent dealings and double crosses. And it is a great movie.The main character, Tony Montana, is an interesting man, but a shallow character. Always wanting what he doesn’t have, and then ignoring what he does, Tony Montana goes through the movie constantly pushing himself and the people around him, always trying to gain more power and drugs. Of course, this usually results in violence.So far, this review has been painting a fairly inaccurate portrayal of the movie. Although it is a violent movie, the violence portrayed makes up a small portion of the actual screen time. The movie runs almost three hours long, and it is filmed in a slow, deliberate manner that is often rare in these current times. The film quality, as well as the sound, is not of the highest quality. The video is often grainy, with some discoloration and blurring. The sound is also of rather mediocre quality. For all of you out there with surround sound, (don’t all raise your hands at once) the sound only comes from the center channel. All things considered though, this is the best version you will find on DVD, as the previous one, released in 1998, was one of the worst DVDs ever released.The special features are almost make up for the quality however, as it features discussions by Oliver Stone, Brian De Palma and Al Pacino. A commentary track is noticeably absent, however, as well as any input by Michelle Pfeiffer. As an interesting note, the makers of this DVD also decided to toss in a little thing called “Def Jam Presents: Origins of a Hip Hop Classic.” It runs about 30 mintues long, and features rappers praising Scarface. Interesting … almost makes up for a lack of commentary, or not.Scarface has a couple of flaws as a DVD, but as a movie it is almost flawless. If you haven’t seen it yet, and didn’t think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy took too long to watch, then do yourself a favor, and check this movie out.