THE GODFATHER REVIEW: “The Godfather: Part II” stars Al Pacino (Heat, The Irishman ), Robert Duvall (The Judge, Open Range), Diane Keaton (Finding Dory, Annie Hall), Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, Joker), John Cazale (Dog Day Afternoon, The Deer Hunter), Talia Shire (Rocky, I Heart Huckabees), Lee Strasberg (Going in Style, And Justice for All), Michael V. Gazzo (Last Action Hero, Fingers), G.D. Spradlin (Ed Wood, Nick of Time), Richard Bright (Once Upon a Time in America, Hair), Gaston Moschin (The Conformist, All My Friends Part 3), Bruno Kirby (City Slickers, When Harry Met Sally…), Francesca De Sapio (Torrents of Spring, That’s the Way of the World), and Morgana King (Nunzio, A Brooklyn State of Mind). It is directed by Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now, Peggy Sue Got Married), who also wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo (Superman II, A Time to Die). Michael Corleone (Pacino) seeks to expand the family syndicate, while the origin story of Vito Corleone (De Niro) is revealed.
“My father taught me many things here – he taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.’” One of only two sequels to have won the Academy Award of Best Picture (the other being “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), “The Godfather: Part II” has been regarded as one of the best sequels of all time, if not THE best. Some have even argued that it is the best film of all time… well, I think that’s taking it a bit too far. But the fact remains: “The Godfather: Part II” is a terrific follow-up to a classic piece of cinema, coming close to (if not topping) the quality of its predecessor. Clocking in at three and a half hours, this monumental epic seeks to go above and beyond what was accomplished in the previous installment, juggling itself between two narratives that flow into a similar theme. Not only do we witness Michael’s rise to power (and struggle to keep it), but we also are shown the origin story of one Vito Corleone, portrayed by Robert De Niro (who won his first Oscar for the role). Both Corleones are brought to the forefront to show the night and day of this Family. What was once all about family has become a means of being top dog. If we thought Vito was a scary man, wait until you see what Michael does. The best thing “The Godfather: Part II” accomplishes is linking ideas, themes, and emotional arcs to a point where everything connects; there’s a ton of foreshadowing and callbacks, both in action and dialogue. How Coppola can make my jaw drop without even having a character say anything is a spectacular feat. I mean, he’s been able to craft such a masterpiece because he approached “Part II” as a continuation rather than a sequel. Both parts feel like a whole, because moments created in this film gain all the more weight when you reflect on the events from the first feature. Michael never wanted to do what his father did. He didn’t pride his family over everything. And now, not only has he become his father, but has leaned into his ideology that family is merely blood. I love this character, as well as the others that Coppola and Puna craft. The performances are engaging, the characters are rich, and the conflict is gripping. I was fascinated in both Vito and Michael’s story, each blending together beautifully to eventually finish in a crescendo of utter despair/heartbreak. And while at times I felt the weight of the runtime (they even included an intermission), I was hardly disinterested. The filmmakers managed to make everything important/powerful, because the decisions that are made affect everything. Because they essentially have two films playing at once, it even makes sense that the movie ended up being as long as it is. Much like my thoughts on the first “Godfather,” I got to live in this story. Experience the passing years with these characters and travel the dark road that will eventually lead us to some of the most dark moments of this franchise (that climactic scene between Diane Keaton and Al Pacino will forever be glued in my mind). I was mesmerized, but not just by the performances, but every other technical aspect too. The music is wonderful, the cinematography is astounding, and the set pieces? Good grief. We just between post World War I era and the latter 50’s, each with their own look and feel. Some of the most visually striking moments where from Vito’s storyline. Him arriving with other Italian immigrants on a ship as a little boy (and seeing the Statue of Liberty), going through customs, and the big set piece where his older self walks through the parade-filled streets after just murdering someone; it’s all fantastic. My hat is tipped to Coppola for pulling off yet another great experience, one that is certainly regarded highly in the film world. As for how I stack it against its former movie, that’s tough to say. I guess it would depend on my mood. With “Part II,” you get a whole lot more to chew on. However, I did get confused with Michael’s dealings with Hyman Roth (Strasberg) and Frankie Pentangeli (Gazzo) in regards to his attempted-assassination. I didn’t know if he was double crossing them both, or was just misinformed and he truly was trying to attack Roth. You got me. I could just be dumb and not understand the situation going on. Of course, this feature would require another viewing to fully immerse oneself in it. Regardless of that fact, I love “The Godfather: Part II.” It has one of my favorite ending scenes of all time; one that is so anti-climactic, yet all the more brutal in how ironic it is. It truly tied both films together beautifully, and the more I look back on these movies (while no longer really original due to their copy-cats), the more I understand just how genius they are. If you have seen “The Godfather” and are weary about its sequel, trust me, it’s worth it. Heck, it’s more than worth it, whatever that means. Watch it, or you’ll end up sleeping with the fishes. FINAL SCORE: 98%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame
Here is the trailer: