THE GODFATHER REVIEW: “The Godfather: Part III” stars Al Pacino (Heat, Serpico), Diane Keaton (Father of the Bride , Something’s Gotta Give), Talia Shire (Rocky IV, Kiss the Bride), Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven, The Lost City), Sofia Coppola (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Inside Monkey Zetterland), Eli Wallach (The Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Magnificent Seven ), Joe Mantegna (Baby’s Day Out, Searching for Bobby Fischer), George Hamilton (Zorro: The Gay Blade, Love at First Bite), Bridget Fonda (A Simple Plan, Single White Female), Raf Vallone (The Italian Job , A View from the Bridge), Franc D’Ambrosio, Donal Donnelly (The Dead, This Is My Father), Richard Bright (Once Upon a Time in America, Joe the King), Helmut Berger (Ludwig, The Damned), and Don Novello (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Casper ). It is directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Rainmaker, One From the Heart), who also wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo (The Cotton Club, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery). Michael Corleone (Pacino), well into his older years, seeks to make the family business legitimate by cutting off bad ties and forming a partnership with the Catholic Church. However, by doing this, Michael creates new enemies who threaten his plans.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Over fifteen years since the second part’s release, Francis Ford Coppola brought us “The Godfather: Part III,” giving Michael Corleone’s story to a definitive conclusion and audiences a reason to say that the “Godfather” franchise isn’t perfect. Why this movie got bashed on as much as it did is beyond me. Critics had to have liked it enough for it to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1991 (unless there wasn’t much getting released for it to compete against). I was weary going in, considering how fantastic the first two features were. Could they have ended it at Part II? Sure. But in my opinion, I though the ending of the second part warranted a third outing. Who wouldn’t want to see how Michael’s story comes to an end? I know I would. And thus foregoes the story of “The Godfather: Part III.” Michael is looking to be legitimize the business through the Catholic Church while some of the Family believe he’s making a mistake; enemies appear from the shadows and danger is afoot, as the world closes in on an older, battered Michael Corleone. What sells the movie ultimately is Al Pacino. The fact that this man never won for his role of Michael Corleone is a crying shame. He delivers a stellar performance in this, albeit the weaker storyline this time around. It’s hard not to like an old man character, and while Michael still has game in this final iteration, he is certainly backed into a corner with his business. Surrounding him is faces old and new. I recognized a few of the older, returning actors, though some were difficult to pinpoint. Of course, they all held their own, whether it was Diane Keaton or Talia Shire. Really, it was the newbies I had a problem with. Save for the legendary Eli Wallach and solid Andy Garcia (he can be over the top at times, but is entertaining nonetheless), Michael’s children had to be some of the most poorly cast individuals for such a high standard franchise. I can only assume that Sophia Coppola wanted to act so badly and it was not her father’s pressure to put her in the film. While she isn’t terrible, she is definitely wooden, which worsens the story to a degree because of how much weight her character holds. Her arc is the second most important, as it plays a heavy hand in the conclusion to the film. Unfortunately, because of her stale delivery, I didn’t care for her as much as I should’ve, especially her fling with Garcia. The forbidden cousin love is on full display in this movie, and while it adds some drama to the fold, I was not that interested. Maybe it it was someone other than Sophia that brought a stronger presence, I would’ve been more invested (but hey, at least the woman can direct, she’s darned good at that). Even her brother made me roll my eyes. The most prided sibling, Anthony Vito Corleone (D’Ambrosio) was a far better opera singer than he was a regular person. Much like Sophia’s Mary, I didn’t like his performance, but was thankful that he only had a few scenes in the overall film. Granted, it would’ve been terrific for both third generation Corleone’s to be at the center stage and given better actors; we would’ve had a heftier story if that were the case. Most of the moving pieces within “Part III” are actually pretty good. Regardless of what I think of the Corleone siblings, Michael has a relatively solid storyline that fits the tone of the final act this movie is supposed to be. It’s ultimately a man seeking redemption and separation from what he has fallen into. Unfortunately, as the introduction quote put it beautifully, he can never leave. He’s too far in. The structure of “Part III” is tried and true, fitting the same mold as its former releases. A plan is initiated, conflict arises, a mole is discovered, and a slaughterhouse finale unfolds. It works, and I loved the ending montage to this (which was cut together with a haunting operatic performance). Coppola really pushes the limit with his visuals, submerging us in the religious world of Catholicism as well as Sicily, which is a place we are familiar with. I thought the symbolism worked, and while traveling the path of Catholicism seemed out of left field at first, it worked in the favor of what point was trying to be made. With what Michael has done in the past, it only makes sense that he would find some solace in Christianity more than anything. And while the story certainly isn’t as captivating as the first two features, the pacing still holds up, as I never zoned out in the almost three hour span this film works in. Sure, there are scenes that aren’t that engaging, but Coppola keeps enough pokers in the fire to jump to if one has overstayed its welcome. Also, the cinematography and score are choice, so that’s another factor to keep you locked (yeah, it’s a given, but it can’t go without saying). What it all boils down to is that “The Godfather: Part III” has the right pieces to be yet another astounding epic; it just doesn’t execute itself properly to make that happen. As I said, the Corleone children did nothing for me, and the fight for control within the Catholic Church could’ve been better if ramped up more. The ending sequence was brutal and just what I wanted the whole feature to be. But, we had to settle for a series of sit downs and discussions. They aren’t bad, mind you, but they just aren’t as gripping as the ones down in the first and second parts. Things sort of just… happen, and we move from one plot point to the next. All I can say is, “The Godfather: Part III” is an entertaining movie with some solid scenes. Pacino knocks it out of the park, Michael’s storyline holds enough water to keep me interested, and the ending sequence is magnificent (both cinematically and thematically). Yeah, it doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors, but for what it’s worth, it’s still a good movie, and a better sequel than what most other franchises can offer. If you’ve seen the first two films, I’d say give this one a go. FINAL SCORE: 79%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: