The Scarface Remake Everyone Didn’t Know They Wanted (And Still Don’t)

By  · Published on August 11th, 2016

Hollywood is all about them dolla’, dolla’ bills, y’all.

Mmm, drugs.

Scarface is getting remade. That’s actually been going on for awhile now, but I just learned about it. The 1983 film is itself just a remake of a 1932 film titled the same, so I can’t be that confounded. It’s happened before. It’s just if I were ranking films based on necessity of a remake, Scarface would land somewhere in the lower echelon nestled between like Forrest Gump and Rain Man. Remakes, sequels, reboots… whatever, they only make sense to me if they fall into one or more of the following categories:

A new interpretation by a new auteur

The 1983 film that I know to be the definitive Scarface was directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone, and starred Al Pacino. Those guys are first ballot Hall of Famers. Even better, the film was underappreciated when it was released and has achieved the infinitely more beloved cult classic status. (Phoebe knows.)

Antoine Fuqua’s currently negotiating to helm the new Scarface. He certainly has fresh experience with remakes. The only thing we have to go on with his potential is his previous filmography, which is filled with more middling works than breakthroughs. What can he bring to the druglord movie-dom that already hasn’t been said by Scarface and the other rags-to-riches criminal stories (Blow, City of God, American Gangster, etc.)? Does saying something new or original even matter?

The original material being reimagined is clearly dated in some way

A lot of this has to do with visual aesthetic changes over time, most prevalent in the increasing use of CGI. While older styles can still be appreciated and respected, the present day viewer has been spoiled with modern technological wizardry. Today, viewing 1933’s classic King Kong (“Stop-motion’s pretty cool.”) compared to 1976’s King Kong (“The hell? That’s just a dude in a monkey suit. C’mon, 1976!”) compared to 2005’s King Kong (“Damn, this looks good. I could do with a little less Jack Black, though.”) gives a clear understanding of the purpose of each reboot, regardless of overall outcome quality.

Often times, traditional ideals reflective of a, umm, less progressive time are readily apparent. Like, watching Sean Connery’s suave James Bond attract the opposite sex seems a lot more antiquated and pervy than Daniel Craig’s rapport with his female counterparts. Scarface does not meet this category’s criteria.

It’s a prime candidate for a movie-verse

Some time in the 2000s, Marvel figured out that all of its properties as stand-alone movies and trilogies and such were, yes, making them a lot of money, but weren’t really living up to the full potential of super films. DC’s always had fantastic success with their Batman and Superman movies and were creating classics along the way, and even they stopped and overhauled their entire strategy after the success of Marvel’s serialization.

It’s difficult to even think of a handful of blockbuster entities that aren’t a part of some universe crafting in today’s age. It’s not hard to grasp why movie studios would want to take older, established content and try to repurpose it for the current episodic storytelling model, if the material warrants it, or at least, can abide it. Scarface does not meet this category’s criteria.

There’s a strong public demand for more

The original Star Wars trilogy told a complete story with complete character arcs. People wanted more. The prequels expanded on the characters, worlds, and lore and told a complete story in conjunction with the originals. PEOPLE STILL WANT MORE, DAMMIT! They want it so badly, they don’t care if the newest entry literally hits all the exact same beats and calls itself a sequel instead of a reboot of sorts. You can’t throw dart at a calendar without landing within a few weeks of something related to Star Wars being announced or released. Scarface does not meet this category’s criteria.

I don’t know when we’ll hit the saturation point of rejiggered movies in terms of putting butts in seats and money out of pockets, but it has to be close, right? Hollywood’s primary concern, as is nearly any business in a capitalist market, is to make money. If you can make a drug story that is semi-related to a high-profile, cult classic like Scarface, why not slap the title and remake label on it? I bet every WWII film would love some type of Saving Private Ryan “based upon” tag.

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