Carlitos Way: Ultimate Edition DVD Review

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

Carlitos Way: Ultimate Edition DVD Review
SRP: £14.25

Picture

Carlito's Way Ultimate Edition comes with a fabulously broad 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. The detail is superb (considerably better than the previous US release), with clarity throughout, no signs of edge enhancement and very little softness (some of the shots have that softer, more classic feel but it seems intended). There is also very little grain, even during the darker scenes. The colours are broad and sumptuous, from Carlito's red-hued club lighting to the blue neon lights. Facial tones are realistic, blacks are solid and we get some great shadow play. Overall, with no print defects whatsoever, this is the definitive Carlito's Way transfer to have.

“You ready? Here come the pain!”
Carlitos Way: Ultimate Edition

Sound

This Ultimate Edition is also blessed with two phenomenal tracks - a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a DTS effort. There is little to choose between them, both providing the dialogue predominantly from the frontal array. It is relatively clear and even Pacino's relatively quiet narration comes through coherently, but the directionality really comes into play with the effects. Although you would not expect it from a movie like this, they have found plenty of little things to observe with the surrounds - from the rain to the traffic passing by, not to mention all of the penetrating shootouts. In its own way, the music also has a little directionality - some of the classic seventies club tracks play off to one side more than the other depending on where you are in Carlito's club. Not to mention the absolutely fantastic orchestral score created for the movie, rousing and moving it grabs you right at the opening shot and carries you through all of the dramatic and action sequences, giving you a real emotional buzz. Both the score and the soundtrack are worth having on CD, let alone in 5.1 surround sound. I think the DTS has a slight edge in potency but there is little to differentiate between these two excellent tracks and it is certainly the best Carlito's Way has ever sounded.

“If you ever talk that sh*t again in front of her, I'm gonna' kill you.”
Carlitos Way: Ultimate Edition

Extras

All of the extra features are housed on the flip-side to the disc. First up we get Brian De Palma on Carlito's Way, a relatively recent five-minute interview with the Director, where he talks about this production and the state of Hollywood today. Interestingly he observes how most mainstream movies these days are just cut-and-paste ideas from previous movies, comparing that to the way he likes to paint a picture of a different world in which the viewer can become immersed. He talks about how he visualises the scenes before filming them, discussing John Leguizamo's input and how they actually used a real gangster to play the mob boss on the prison barge. It is a very interesting, if slightly brief interview that is well worth listening to for an insight both into the movie and into what makes the man behind the movie tick.

We get eight minutes of Deleted Scenes (there are ten and they basically run for about a minute each). The film quality is a bit poor, but it is nice to have more of Carlito and Dave talking at the beginning of the movie, a little more from Carlito on the street, Dave visiting his illustrious client, Gail and Carlito, Carlito in his club talking to Pachanga and Gail in the cab. None of them were particularly worth including (and some of them even look more like outtakes rather than alternate versions) but having more Al Pacino in this role is simply fantastic, particularly the brief addition to his voice-over narrative.

The Making of Carlito's Way is thirty-four minutes long and features excerpts from the original script (written in the first person as you can glean from the voiceover), plenty of interview footage with the writer Judge Edwin Torres (who talks about his indelible memory for dialogue and how his work was based on his real life experiences) and lots of detail into how the book became a movie. The producer, Martin Bregman, pops up to talk about how terrible the original draft was but how Pacino loved the character and pushed the movie into production and how they approached De Palma to direct it. De Palma relates his Cuban Scarface experiences to his Puerto Rican Carlito's Way production and discusses working with the great Pacino again and the screenwriter talks about some of the changes he made to the original material and how there was a lot of pressure to leave it open for a sequel. There are also plenty of behind the scenes shots and promotional stills. It is a very interesting featurette that has a great deal of information about this production and its journey from book to screen.

There are three photo galleries: a Portrait Gallery with seventeen promotional stills from the production (in both black and white and colour and covering the key characters), a Poster Gallery with seventeen variations on the poster art, including some interesting versions (one of which mirrors the black and white Scarface poster) and a Brian De Palma Gallery with thirty-five black and white shots from the production where he is either giving instructions to various cast members, including Pacino, or just watching his masterpiece evolve.

The Original Promotional Featurette runs at five minutes and is much more fluffy and much less informative than the new Making-Of. Voice-over man has a whale of a time pounding at you from the speakers but there are a few nice interview segments (still no Pacino) amidst this advertising endeavour.

Finally the Original Theatrical Trailer is nearly three minutes long and gives away almost the entire story and certainly most of the key sequences and dialogue moments. Trust me, it is worth avoiding if you want to enjoy this movie untainted for the first time.

“There's a line you cross you never come back from. Point of no return.”
Carlitos Way: Ultimate Edition
Carlito's Way is in my top ten movies and with good reason: it has a superb cast on top form with an amazing script, a solid story and fantastic direction. What more could you want? Now it has been finally graced with a release that it deserves: a superior transfer, two excellent audio tracks and a wealth of extras that fans will simply love. A commentary would have been nicely but merely the cherry on a simply perfect cake. This one comes very highly recommended: if you haven't seen it then it is worth buying (trust me, no rental required), if you have seen it but haven't bought it then what are you waiting for? And if you have already got an earlier edition then it is definitely worth upgrading - after all, Carlito's Way deserves it.

“You think you're big time? You gonna' die bigtime.”

Scores

Movie

10

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
9

Extras

.
.
8

Overall

10
10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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