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These are the films we grew up with, these are the movies we love. No remake will ever take that away from us. Don't copy the good, or redo it, be creative, using the tools all those great movies lent to our imaginations. With all that inspiration, we can change the world, but we must be strong.
One big mess, from a bad chain of errors...
LEVIATHAN...tries to be ALIEN on a many number of levels, and never comes close. At a far shot, I will say this had a good chance of being it's own film, but in attempt to cash in on the ALIEN/ The Thing fad that was about in action films in the 1980s, this film falls flat on it's face. Heck, I almost feel sorry for Aliens (plural-the sequel) which I did not care for in the least. This film follows a crew of miners (gee, isn't THAT a familiar occupation for these characters) who toil around with uncharted, and undiscovered ship (be it a sunken ship, or lost spaceship, what difference does it make?) and find one heck of a consequence for it. Invading the underwater grave, they "stumble upon", the crew then take to bounties and "treasures" therein. Soon, a (literally) monstrous situation is breaking loose, and HOW? Well, that's even worse, but I won't go into that yet. The question at hand is, with little to NO novelty, or logical correctness to this story, why should we care?
The cast consists of fairly talented, to no talent at all performers who give us a number of unsympathetic characters we couldn't manage to care less about. Do we need to listen to a constant miscast Daniel Stern rave on with his one-track mind on "pairs" and practical jokes? That kind of character worked better in the later Friday The 13th films starting with part 4, but that's neither here nor there. Then there is Ernie Hudson in the (bad) vain of Yaphet Kotto as Parker from ALIEN.Two women among a ship of many men. People like this do not exist, surely in serious businesses such as underwater mining, and that one would even care about a one of them is a waste of emotion and time. There is even a perennial scientist who, with all his accumulated knowledge, is corrupt and out to sacrifice the entire crew for sake of the creature, or scientific breakthrough. Just awful!!!
There is also an impeccable production design that would suit JAWS: The Revenge in comparison. Heck since we're on underwater films, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP has more dignity than this, but there is not enough room to go into that either.Sights and sounds strung through a film, does not a good experience make, and it certainly doesn't here.Just a lot of wasted time and energy.The make-up effects of the "Monster" are hardly affective. In this, they cleverly attempt the ALIEN approach, to show as little as possible, and leave the rest to the imagination, but what we do see is cartooning, like a monstrous Daffy Duck. Stan Winston allegedly put some study into this, but it didn't pay off quite as well as it could have. I guess it looked better on paper.
Plus, chances at redemption are abandoned at the shallowness of what would be a regularly talented group. Peter Weller is a great actor, and has potential. However, as a Dallas (ALIEN)/MCready (The Thing) copy-cat role, he fails, and his diction and deliverance are flat and obviously fake and staged like a bad high school production. Lead female Amanda Pays is decent, but no Sigourney Weaver, that's for sure. One cannot argue that such an imitation was made, because it was, and to defend this action is ridiculous. Same goes for a character named "Jones". A ha ha, funny reference, it's like "good one guys".
Then there is the biggest problem, being that of logics and continuity. We can barely tell when and where the film is headed, because the story jumps back and forth to no avail, in shame. How are we supposed to believe that decompression happens in a matter of moments, and furthermore, how can we believe such a monster exists with this type of caliber? It takes away from any shock moments the film might have had, but then again, there aren't any (good) ones to speak of. Pretty boring really.
The final error, as it were, is due to blame they who were behind this. The European companies and producers obviously had their way with how they felt a BIG BUDGET BLOCKBUSTER would do with this caliber of octane energy. They FAIL on all accounts. The dialog suggests that they have a very bad perception of how they think Americans behave, such as drunks, sex fiends, and attempted flashy movie moments (say "AH" mother*beep*er!) that really make this one a cringe worthy piece of cinematic rubbish.
Not even an out of left field Jerry Goldsmith score can suffice in this one, and he NEVER misses, except maybe on this one. 3 Stars for his efforts, whatever they might bring us :-( Pity! Were I anyone who reads this...head the WARNING...skip it!
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Jennifer's Body is lifeless...
The film has no objective method of approach. It's neither horror, nor comedy. It's satire (bad satire, at that.) The film enjoys constant displays of ideas and images that correlate to the country (red, white and blue; burning flag) and religion (Town's name is "Devil's Kettle" religion is referenced many times.) matched with some of the admit-tingly hilarious dialogue of Diablo Cody, and of course, Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried (who bring us guys a VERY likable bedroom scene.), to bring you one of the weirdest experimental teen horror flicks that tries to make a statement at the same time. The narratives that form the message are in your face at some times, and subtle and barely registering, at others. The film tries to say one thing, but is so clearly the other. The film then so, became herky jerky and inefficient. I left the theater in a state of sugar daddy comatose wanting more from the two leads and less from the so called "statement (which I didn't get any more of anyway.)
What we have here, is a failure to communicate-a direct result of the writer, Diablo Cody, herself! This film is illogical and messy in it's attempt to display teen horror in a satirical manner. It doesn't move much past the opening, when the logic and reason are thrown out in a bizarre series of events that almost don't make sense. It then goes to play itself with a new breed of 'lingo' that writer Cody obviously thinks the new-age audiences will thrive off of. It's a high-school horror movie doing bad stand -up comedy, or rather, it's Darren Steins "Jawbreaker" with a satanic twist. The story introduces some harsh events that will only disable one's thinking ever more...
But when it all comes down, we have two genres slugging it out by the flagpole. It's easy to see, no one is going to get this movie. Those who will like it, will not so, for the reasons they should, and those who do NOT like it, will so because they don't get what Cody is trying to tell us. What's that? You got us. The film is a cross between political statement, and social anxiety of religion, particularly in a school setting. This could have been a keen idea for the new generation of 'R' rated horror films, but Cody tries to make the film too appealing, getting lost and indulged in the dialogue, the social dynamic, and Megan Fox. Therefore, the film has no direction. It's lost early on, and the film misses the mark. The film had a few merits, such as Amanda Seyfried who delivers the only genuine performance. Hers is a solid, character remaining a stable element that (barely) holds the film together in it's best moments. But when it all comes down, the film is hindered by the story, the plot (there is a difference between the two) and characters, all of which take a back seat to the muddled "message" of the film and the film suffers from inconsistency.
Fierce, Bold, and shameless view into the psyche of fragmented motherhood.
To start, the film "Orphan" was promoted to be a modern day schlock film about a murderous child who wrecks havoc on a loving home which adopts her. This method of audience attraction could not be further from the truth. "Orphan" is an intense drama, about how fragmented minds of both children and adults can hinder the relationships between the children of a family, broken or otherwise, and the parental units with which the family is overseen. The film's premise follows a the Coleman family, a broken, unconventional family who have recently befallen a slight tragedy. Specifically the mother, Kate, who has just suffered a miscarriage. From here, we learn that, in addition to other complications to John, her husband, and she herself, that their marriage is on the rocks, about to slip. They figure adopting a child to make up for the still born one of their own, will mend things. So they adopt Esther, a kind, intellectual, but reclusive young girl from the St. Martins school for girls. This does in fact, mend their marriage, because of all things, their youngest child, Maxine, who is deaf, has particularly taken to Esther. Soon though, events start to take place, inconsistencies, and 'accidents' that all seem to be connected with Esther's arrival. This sets the story, but so much more takes place within the film, that will most obviously be missed by many 'thrill seeking' audience members. First of all, there is a complexity of character development and layers of character issues with both John and Kate, who were both played out wonderfully and very authentically by Peter Saarsgard and Vera Farmiga. The problems the characters are faced with, matched with the problems they've overcome, reaches the viewer with no holds barred realism. So too, do you get the feelings from the actress playing the deaf child. Sign language is incorporated into the film, and stylistically, the direction has many of her scenes in complete silence, helping us live in her world for just a few moments at a time. One of the real gems to this film is Isabelle Furhmen, who is regards nothing but what she is supposed to do as Esther. She is impressive, and focused, with a memorable accent and almost perfect acting for someone at her age. She will go far if she continues to grow and take in all that she can. CCH Pounder pops in for a welcome cameo. The story itself is frankly far fetched, but the actors and director Jaume Collet Serra, who is humbly making his way up the ladder in the industry, and it's not hard to see why, make this stylish and entertaining trash something to think about. The direction is a BIG contribution to the films virtues. The camera work, the direction of the scenes and the actors, and overall execution of the story and the way it's structured give the film more cinematic validity than it originally has any right to. There are physical camera moves than entice and suspend the viewer, there are jumps and build ups in the conversations that lead the viewer on, and then usually there will be a revelations that doesn't try to scare, just creeps up your skin. John Ottman provides a less than memorable score. He is usually on top of the game, providing a score that is better than the films themselves, but this time, the direction has clearly eclipsed him. But it by no means stops there. The best part of the film (direction, really) is the bold and shameless way it approaches how the events in the film are portrayed. Serra is not afraid to go where other filmmakers are sensitive. He places to the two children, one innocent, the other not so innocent, in the scariest of situations, for both children and parents alike, and takes risks with their lives. The situations on screen are in your face and intense, but don't linger on for too long, eliciting an uncomfortable and at times, horrifying feel that makes the viewer want to forget they ever saw this. These depictions include but are not limited to, children locked in a tree house on fire, children killing adults, children psychologically playing off the naiveté of other children, etc. It's definitely not for younger audiences. In fact, it's a film that some adults should see. A commentary on the affect parenting has on children, and how subtle but real the ignorance of a parent can be. It's an adult film on many levels actually, giving the story lines to the parents most of all, and giving the scary material as a secondary tactic. The film is a daring exercise in presenting the subtle consequences of ignorance in the American Family. Likewise, the film can also be taken as a look into a world where youth and innocence is taken for granted, and all ages are affected thusly. Either way you look at it, the film presents a world where the boundaries of age and maturity are broken and the lines that are usually drawn between are blurred. Our characters at one point or another can each be blamed, or sympathized with. And for that, the film has done half of what it should: Reflect while being entertaining. The other half, is what no brained audiences have seen the film for, a gory attempt to cash in on the idea that adults are stupid and children should disrespect their parents. People who are going to see this film for either this reason, or to be scared, will most certainly not get their dollars worth. All in all, "Orphan" has brought back the R-rated horror film, and with it, an intellect to the adult scary movie, and it will only really be successful if other filmmakers recognize it for what it is, and continue to take this new method on.
Terror in the Aisles (1984)
Exceptional documentary about the power behind modern suspense.
One of the most interesting facts about this terrific documentary, is that it was released theatrically back in 1984. Can you think of any other documentary that chronicles and combines film clips to a strong degree seeing release into the cinemas today? I know I certainly cannot. "Terror In The Aisles" is a one of a kind documentary exploring the technical and psychological aspects of the suspense genre, covering some of the most influential horror, Sci-Fi, and Action Suspense films that had been made up to that point,in 1984. By the 1980's, these genres had seen a very interesting variety films. This documentary covers a great deal of these films, ranging from the earliest of films such as the 1931 "Dracula", and "Frankenstein", to more contemporary film such as "Jaws", "Alien", "NightHawks" and "Halloween".
Narrating, or rather, hosting this documentary, are Donald Pleasance of the "Halloween" films, and Nancy Allen of early Brian De Palma films such as "Carrie" and "Dressed To Kill". Both actors, of which, have their own films as featured titles. They each take turns narrating different categories of the horror films. For example, Donald Pleasance talks about the more intense films such as his own famed "Halloween", and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", while Nancy Allen talks about the concept of women as victims in the films that are depicted. It's a fun time watching these two stars explore such thematic topics in horror films, while giving commentary about how, and why audiences are effected by them.
Obviously, horror fans are going to be thrilled to view a myriad of some of the most impacting horror films of that time. such film clips include the chest-bursting scene from "Alien", the death of Eddie from "Jaws 2", the opening from "Jaws", The chase from "NightHawks", and the head explosion from "Scanners". The film does, however, construct these scenes in an order that fits the topic of which Pleasance or Allen are narrating, or providing a commentary of sorts. Another good thing about the film, is that you do not have to be a die-hard horror fan to enjoy it. Sure, it displays scenes of intense gore, but it's quite reasonable and even a little educational and certainly insightful as far as going over the technical and psychological aspects of horror films.
In dissecting the technical and psychological side of the genre, the Pleasance and Allen explain what shocks us, and why we're so vulnerable to it. We are given terrific examples as the aforementioned chest-bursting scene from "Alien", the rat scene from "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" The first appearance of Leatherface in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and the transformation scene from "An American Werewolf In London". On the technical side, the two actors explain the stylistic way the films were made, and how they manipulate the audience. Such examples come from the camera-work in "Friday The 13th part 2", the special effects in films such as "The Howling", and the visual style of "Rosemary's Baby". Pleasance and Allen also discuss the topics of villains, heroes, and confrontations.
All in all, this is a nice film that definitely succeeds in explaining the horror genre, and all the many topics therein. It's a fun film for fans and film buffs alike, and it's a joy to watch over and over again. More recent compilations have been released, such as the "Boogymen" compilation, that succeed only in providing genre fans with expected film clips of repetitive gore and violence. Those are nothing like "Terror in The Aisles", which both shows and expresses the genre at it's best because during that time, it had reached it's best.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Another artistic endeavor that continues to thrill all audiences alike-A classic follow up to a Classic.
After viewing the original "Hellraiser" and reviewing it, this film comes to mind as one of the more worthy follow ups to a classic. As all great films, with a subliminal message that doesn't need a sequel to follow it up, or explain more, "Hellraiser" was a film that encompassed the imagination with it's sheer and unsurpassed creativity and told a story with horrific, but beautiful tones. It was only inevitable that a sequel would come up sooner or later, to change the feel of the first film, and derail the novel ending. And as Hollywood driven as "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is, it's a film that is full of surprises, and yet, keeps it traditional enough to match wits with the first film. Full of lavish production values, zenith class make-up and special effects, and gorgeous set design, and cinematography, this sequel did what only few sequels in film history have done: Take what the first film created and keep the original essence, while taking it to a new level. Thus, it's not a mere sequel, but a continuing. "Hellraiser II" gives you what the first film teased: Hell. We as the audience go to hell and back several times, while continuing a saga with the few surviving (in any way possible!) characters from the first film in the process. Kirsty, our heroin from the first film, has been put in a mental hospital, still convinced that the hellish crusade from the first film is not yet over, and direly believes her father to be in hell, awaiting her rescue, while Julia, our villainess from the first film, is back from the dead, and bringing a new depth of hell to earth, prominently fueled by a hellish God, Leviathan. The first of the films many surprises is the integrity from the first film is still intact. And that makes it a great sequel.
Gothic, Gory, Romantic, Beautiful, Colorful, and Tasteful horror film. A Gem!
Contrary to what one might conceive in their minds BEFORE watching this classic horror movie, it should be said that Clive Barker has delivered us a real gem of a horror story, packed with intensity, both emotionally, as well as physically. "Hellraiser" is about love, lust, pain, and pleasure. It's been called an "otherworldly tale of pain and torture". It's been referred to as a grim, Gothic romance. Needless to say, it's gore following is much more in numbers than that of the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. Truly, this film is everything one see's it to be, from a romance, to a gore show, to a good ol' fashioned scare show. Either way, it's a fine film regardless. I might add, however, that it may come as a surprise upon first viewing. What is surprising, is the way it plays out very dramatic. Our characters are very down to earth, each with their own personal idiosyncrasies and inner demons, not to mention personal strengths. Each of them stands like a look at the different human desires, fears, joys, and sorrows. It plays out like a grim, Shakespeare play. A man and woman, Larry and Julia Cotton, moving into a home where memories dwell upon like haunting spirits. Larry is a charismatic optimistic gentleman, full of love and compassion for his wife, and his daughter, Kirsty. Julia is a human relic of baggage and fallen dreams, because she bears so many dark secrets, one of which is an affair with Frank, her husband's younger brother. Frank is alive, and replenishing himself after a rather nasty encounter with a Pandora's Box. Larry's blood, spilled over a hardwood floor, brings Frank back to life from an excruciating death, in one of the finest special effects sequences in cinematic history. Once Julia and Frank reunite, their love is more dangerous, and powerful than imagined. Together they conspire in the grand tradition of "McBeth" and "Othello", to reign in pleasure once again. Enter Kirsty, Larry's daughter, and Frank's niece. A warm hearted, but determined soul who crosses paths with Julia and Frank before they can finish their diabolical plan. Kirsty eventually encounters the dark secret beheld Frank upon his death, a puzzle box. It brings pain, pleasure, and death. Creatures of darkness; the Cenobites, angels to some, demons to others, come to Kirsty when she accidentally calls upon their ghoulish powers. Once unleashed, they must take someone back, and Kirsty knows now, how Frank is back, and she intends to return him to his deathly justice, and save her family...
The writing is just remarkable. Clive Barker has given us people, humans, planted in their own desires, and determinations, and he tears them apart with fear, pain, death, destruction, and total degradation. The Cotton family are the perfect example of purity, torn to shreds by hate, lust, and anguish, and he takes great glee in showing us all the gory details.
The production is a real high! This is what the best type of films are made of. Real, gory, bloody human remains, connecting to each other in divine sequence, to create a 100% greedy man. The colors are plenty and gorgeous. The look of the blood, and the shine of the lights, and the way the actors are lit... It's just beautiful. The music of the film is brilliant. Composer Christopher Young chills the film, and drenches it with his dramatic variation of the main title, and the rest of the music contains harsh strings, brass horns, music box cues, and rhythmic cues that speed the pace up with action.
Clive Barker is such a great writer and director, and filmmaker altogether. He has given us a great thriller that crosses the line between reality and fiction, in great taste and color, literally. It's no wonder twenty years later, the film stands on it's own, aside from it's sequels, and remains an ultimate horror classic to end them all...well some of them anyway. It's not the only horror film to portray itself intellectually, and it certainly has it's gore effect to an all time high. Still, it's quite a dashing and artful film, and always a treat to watch every time.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
God Awful, and certainly NOTHING special!
"The Bourne Ultimatum" had a real chance at being something big, something to end what had began as the most admirable motion picture saga in years. "The Bourne Identity" blew our minds far enough to the point that we were going back to the theater again and again to experience that same excitement once more. "The Bourne Supremacy" promised just as much, and even delivered a good roller-coaster ride of a sequel, albeit a little inferior to it's high riding predecessor. Sadly, "The Bounre Ultimatum" falls completely flat from hitting anywhere near what the first two films had landed themselves. This film is has all the excitement of a snail race. Why? Well, let's see, it managed to screw itself up in more ways than one. It over blew it with the filming tactics, and the writing was disgusting! I will explain.
First off, the film begins with some dreadfully unexplainable way of taking place before the last film ended. Why the writers did this, I have but to know, anyway, Jason Bourne is still on the lamb. You'd think that after all these years he'd be okay to an extent...but wait a minute...it's only been two years since the first one, and about six weeks since the second installment...somehow before the second film ended??? Anyway, there is more conspiracy and intrigue that has Bourne as angry as a caged cobra, and he's fighting mad! Before we can digest a single up-to-date detail of what's going on, a useless story line appears, of a man who's been onto Bourne for years, following the story. The man is brought to Bourne for a quick instant before meeting his own death. Somebody was feeding him information, and somebody wasn't going to let him live...the pointlessness goes on, as does the ridiculous shaky camera-work. Soon enough, the extraneous character of Nicky is introduced this thrice time around, the film falls apart.
Despite the bad opening sequences, I was enjoying myself with the usual Bourne action stunts, and the always determined Matt Damon in the role. What's more, is that the first twenty minutes of the film is entirely DRENCHED in the memory of Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente from B.I. & B.S.), giving us the notion that she might get a little more justice than before. Alas, the joy is short-lived when that lousy, disgusting, horrid actress Julia Stiles rears her ugly fat face into the film, and the character Nicky is supposed to be some resurrected position of the new Marie Helena Kreutz. That was when the film lost my admiration completely. It became the first film all over again, with many instances mirroring the first film on many levels. It is the same thing, with David Stathairn practically mimicking Chris Cooper, and that wretched Julia Stiles posing as a reminder of how wonderful Franka Potente was. Heck, that's all this movie is, a reminder how terrific the first film was, never mind the second. Joan Allens performance is a saving grace, but she can't manage to do it without a little help...and she has none, not even from Matt Damon. Everyone else runs, jumps, punches, types, speaks etc. like little miniatures programmed to function like the dangerous characters in the first two films. It's just dreadful. This is not fun or exciting for the fans. Fans more so feel the way I feel, that it is the writers and producers slapping us on the face. Do they think that we won't catch the stupid rehashing of "Identity"?
Some people obviously find that take a refreshing, ironic stir, but I for one can't stand it! Theyshould scrap this garbage with the intentions of making another, more innovative climax to what should have been a great trilogy.
Home by Christmas (2006)
Linda Hamilton serves well in a Television Film
I never pay too much attention to television films, especially when they intend to show for a certain audience, such as the way Lifetime Network targets their films for housewives and little girls. The "however", however, comes with the star of "Home By Christmas", Linda Hamilton. I could watch anything this elegant lady does, and thus so, I took a chance on this film.
"Home By Christmas" is a quite depressing story of a woman, whom divorces her cheating husband, only to meet even more humiliation by loosing her home in the post-mordam madness, and living in her car. Despite this, she keeps her hopes up, and clings to every opportunity she can, in attempt to build a plan for getting her life back. Her desperation accelerates when her young daughter is returning home for X-Mas, and she needs a quick way to hide the disastrous situation that has befallen her. Not only that, but she has fallen in love, and cannot bring herself to admit her situation to the man she is interested in. Still, she manages to prevail in all her hope and glory, and just as the yuletide season is coming to it's heights.
The story of this is actually depressing, and very sad to think about, but there is humor therein. Linda Hamilton is serious about this role, but she plays it out very well. The hope and humorous ambitions of her character are well represented, and we find ourselves smiling throughout the film, despite the lousy conflicts our leading actress is faced with. The fact is, we are given hope with every scene, as the writing is pretty sharp (a rarity for television films). it's no wonder why Hamilton choose this role. There is something to learn from the film, about giving and receiving. It's quite touching, and in the end, we see the miraculous life lessons of what good comes from hope and faith, and the power of the yuletide season.
Big bang special effects, black lighting blue and green screens, buffed up actors, no style as far as widescreen is concerned, no good at making an impression on anyone but numb skulled audience members (of which there are obviously many of) to a certain degree. Shall I keep on going? Supposedly based on true events, fictionalized for novel purpose, and blown over the top and out the old proverbial dumper for theaters, this film was a D.O.A. from the second the company logo played. It has all the intensity of a dog taking a bowel movement. Halfway through the film I was sitting in the theater asking myself, 'just what exactly is this about again?' and then it hit me how horrendous the filmmakers visions were.
It was just that which made this film so bad, clashing visions. And you can see it in the trailers and promotional material for this film. On one hand, you have actors working out their damned hardest to get into lean shape, and make their characters stand out, but of course falling into the age old Hollywood Blockbuster curse, they are eclipsed by the way they look and no one even cares about where they have been or where they are going. There is no depth, there is only look, and looks. Poor actors, such as Gerard Butler, Dominic West, and David Wenham, giving it their all, and for what? So people can take a look at their chests, muscles, and rear ends. They give the film nothing more. No spunk, no attitude. Nothing. And that's just the start. All the special effects that it took to make the film also fall futile. There is really nothing impressive about the ultra super imposed grainy look given to battle sequences, the MTV fast-slow quick camera movement that has become cliché in the last few years of bad movies, and the horrible use of music throughout the film. All it does is show that too many people had one too many hands in this film, that they all crashed and this film burned because of it. What I'm getting at is that this film is a poor man's 'Gladiator' with sped up camera changes, blaring guitar music that is supposed to 'elevate' the tension of the fight scenes (it doesn't) and actors supposed to look mighty and tough, but only look like homo-erotic male strippers. All this drawn together, too much 'creativity'(if that's what one would call it, I wouldn't though) strung together on God knows what, and mashed into a digital garbage can, this is what you get.
There is nothing about 300 that is remotely moving. It has the depth of a bathtub, the feel of sand paper, the sound of grinding in your ears, the look of a comic book that was left outside in the rain for a few years, run over by a tow truck carrying the film crew to the studio to work on another film to redeem themselves from making this piece of stench, and then left on the shelf, you get the point.
I could go on, but why bother? If you haven't gotten the point by now, you won't. Watch it at your own risk, and try not to use(loose) too many brain cells.
This film is Hogwash.
The Real Scarface.
"A Classic is something that everybody wants to have read but nobody wants to read. A classic is also something that everyone praises but no one has read." -Mark Twain
'Classic' seems to be the word used to describe "Scarface", Brian DePalma's 1983 film about opulence, self surrender, greed, and danger among Florida's drug ring. People and critics (and rappers for that matter) deem this film 'an epic gangster classic' or 'eptiome of gangster films.' When it is anything but. It is praised for all the wrong reasons. Scarface is a terrific film that deserves praise from all over, but not all the praise it gets from audiences today, and therefor the fine points it so poignantly makes are missed by the general public.
First off, the film is about a Cuban refugee, with a past of wanting to escape communism grasp and find happiness. Simple? Yes. But the layers of De Palma's directing genius, and the great story written by Oliver Stone (yes I know, he actually wrote a real good one here) play into all of it. The characters are all looking for an escape, as escape is a natural element dealt with in the film by all. Each character has something to offer, that makes them likable by everyone who could appreciate this film. They are entwined in a world of mystique and money, but all that has a price, as they all learn. Each character thinks they are getting better chances in life, when in true dramatic irony, they are actually getting worse. 'Tragedy' would be a better word to describe this movie. All those who praise the film for it's drug usage, it's violence, it's dialog, totally missed the point. There is nothing really positive about the film besides the characters positive expectations of themselves. And that is why the film works so well. The devastation through out the film serves to deliver the message of the film, not to look cool or attract viewers. Brian De Palma doesn't make movies for cult gangsters, or brainless action fans.
Next on, the film is an adult drama. It is not a 'gangster film'. It has it's share of action, but the action is plotted very carefully, so it has a point. It's not like "Aliens"- an example of a big dumb action film, and most audiences perceive this film as a big dumb action gangster film about doing drugs and shooting people. Ridiculous. Hogwash. If this film is about that, then it is about how bad it is. Not a promotion of it.
This being said, the film is indeed a great film. It has great cinematography that pulls you into the story. It has a very dramatic score (in true Giorgio Moroder style), which simply could give you chills, or bring you to tears. The film is rather lengthy, but it is a story, and each moment counts. The acting is terrific. Al Pacino - enough said. He can do any role that he puts his mind to, and this was no exception. Pretty boy Steven Bauer, as Manny. I didn't think much of him in other films he did, but he actually makes you like him when he goes under maestro De Palma's direction. Michelle Pfeiffer is a true gem as Elvira. Popping' fresh off the heels of a sort of embarrassment in "Grease 2" she got her ticket to ride performing a no holds barred performance of a beauty that is more than meets the eye. But the three true diamonds in this rough are Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio as Tony's sister Gina, who when she smiles, or cries, we see her soul and her fresh way of living, and watch it deteriorate; Paul Shenar as Alejandro Sosa, a drug lord, who runs deeper than a river, and Shenar portrays him as so; and Miriam Colom as Tony and Gina's torn mother. These three dig the film as deep as it can go.
This reviewer learned one main thing when watching "Scarface" for the first time. Always go into a film unsuspecting. All the hype and talk of this film cannot possibly prepare you for what you really see. Only knowing De Palma (like I do) can give you even a glimpse of what this film holds. So ignore the rap crap, ignore the mindless violence supporters, and fix yourself a glass of Bailey's on the rocks, and indulge yourself in an emotional viewing of a great film, the real "Scarface."