I'm pretty much a slave to my Netflix queue these days, as that it is by far my primary source of video entertainment. Whenever someone recommends a movie to me, or if there's some repeating pop culture reference to which I am clueless, the movie goes in my queue. The rate I feed the queue is definitely faster than the rate at which I consume it, so over the years the queue has grown obscenely long. Generally I try to manage the top of the queue to keep titles up there that suits my current mood or are at least recently contextual. But every now and then I lapse, and, well... get Scarface.
I don't know what specifically convinced me to add Scarface to the queue. It's probably just the fact that it's one of those movies that people are generally aware of. You know, Al Pacino, "say hello to my little friend!" Having never seen the movie I could describe the cover and vaguely repeat the tidbits I've picked up from conversations over the years. This is the sort of situation that stuffs a movie into my queue. Which is too bad, because the review scores are lies. The ratings my friends gave it based on memory are lies. Scarface is not worth your three hours.
One of the problems I having here is the same I've been having with this Castlevania thing: I experienced this movie in the wrong order. I've seen films like Blow and American Gangster. This is not my first cinematic encounter with drugs and crime lords. It's unfair of me to make any comparisons here, because Scarface is a movie that really paved the way for those more modern titles. In its day it was a ballsy epic that blew people's minds. But for me, in my timeline, it's a story I've seen before and seen better.
What I will say is that Al Pacino is the redeeming aspect of this movie. Having seen him in so many other movies it's clear he is playing a specific role here and not just some stock Al Pacino character. It's not a likeable character, but he nails it. He also totally looks the part, ranging from sleazy to decadent throughout his rise to power.
But that's pretty much it. It's long, there's heaps of cocaine, people swear a lot, and there's violence. Where does this get compelling? I gave it two stars, with Pacino's performance pulling it up out of complete oblivion.