The Godfather, Part II Reviews
But to the masses of people who cite this film as one of the few where the sequel was better than the original, I have to disagree. The narrative is a little loopy from the start - too little explanation with the whole Pentangeli vs. the Rosato brothers bit - and leaves the rest of the film as an over-long head-scratcher. The moments are great, but as a cohesive story (or, as it is, two cohesive stories), it just doesn't work as well as it could. The original was much grittier and much more exciting, where as this one dragged on, and instead of finding the excitement, I spent most of the movie waiting.
It's still superior to a great many films, but the change in tone is remarkable. To borrow a title of a David Adams Richards sequel, this a movie "for those who hunt the wounded down," and lacks the accessibility and appeal of its predecessor.
In 1972, Best Picture winner "The Godfather" was shown to the public. It was considered a masterpiece and the story was amazing. Along with a great cast, the movie never seemed too long for its 3 hour run time.
In 1974, the sequel was revealed . . .
The Godfather Part II is known as the greatest sequel made in film making history. 200 minute (3 hours and 20 minutes) run time and a dark story filled the movie theaters. We all knew when the famous score from the first movie came on, we were in for a treat . . . and it was amazing.
The Godfather Part II switches between present time with Michael Corleone (Al Pacino in a riveting performance) taking control of the gambling in the country and young Vito Corleone's (Robert DeNiro, spot on) climb to power in New York's Lower East Side. But first Michael:
Michael Corleone has moved to Nevada where he begins to take over all the gambling in the country. As his son's, Anthony, communion party he is confronted by a Senator where Michael is insulted and forced to buy the gambling license for $250,000. But Michael keeps his cool and respectfully says, "Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally." - right there we realize that Michael means business and prepare for a lot of it. That night, his bedroom is sprayed over with bullets as Michael crawls over to the other side of the bed to protect Kay (Diane Keaton) and her baby. This is where we find out that this movie is going to be one hell of a ride. Michael believes it could be Frank Pentangeli, a loud mouth who feels mistreated by Michael, or Hyman Roth, a sick but powerful man who controls the gambling in Miami.
But this is only half of the story . . .
The other half follows young Vito as he suffers through the murders of his father, brother Paolo and mother by the Don in Corleone. We watch him secretly taken to a boat to travel to the United States through Elis Island. There we watch him grow from a worker at a local Italian Deli to a powerful man in New York City. How he gets there is the most important part. While he is a business man in most of the scenes he isn't scared to get his hands dirty sometimes. In the end, he returns to Italy for one that "chore" to finish up.
These two stories (while the movie mainly follows Michael's empire) juxtapose each other. On one side, the movie shows Vito climb to power as a business man and helpful to his neighborhood, but on the other, the movie shows Michael's descent into Hell so-to-speak. Unlike his father, who even says, "We are not murderers", Michael isn't afraid to wipe people out during his time as "Don" of his empire. As Michael says to Tom, "Tom, you know you surprise me. If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone." This is one of many quotes that Michael shouts out in the movie. The movie shines in the shadows of Michael's dark mind. After you have seen the movie, you have no idea which things Michael said were actually true. The truth is very hard to find in this film and that is one of its many fantastic characteristics.
The film also comes with its fair share of shocks. Without spitting anything out, this movie will shock you in at least three scenes - all of which are memorable. One scene in particular with Kay and Michael is full of anger and shock that many will feel uncomfortable watching based on it's dialogue. The dialogue in this film is tremendous - probably better than the first film. You have the famous quote, "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse" in the movie but many others, one of which I have written in the paragraph above. Others are just brilliantly made. Each sentence of dialogue supports or creates the dark scenes within this film.
The cast in the movie is outstanding yet again. Al Pacino is excellent as Michael Corleone. He was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1974 and didn't win. (NOTE: If there is one performance that Al Pacino should have won for, it has to be this film. He is amazing!). Diane Keaton is great as Michael's pregnant wife, Robert Duvall as Tom Harper is outstanding as usual, and Robert DeNiro as Vito Corleone is tremendous as he won Best Supporting Actor for this role.
Say what you want about the first film whether it is a classic or its a masterpiece but let this be certain: The Godfather Part II might be better. In my opinion, not only is it the greatest sequel ever made, but it is even better than Part I. The violence is intenser, the story is darker, the performances are more riveting than Part I, and the run time is longer. The Godfather Part II is Best Picture of 1974 and once again it is well deserved.
This is Michael Corleone's descent into Hell throughout the movie. He becomes a monster and if you look back at how Michael actually got to this point, you will be amazed on how he has changed. The movie ends with Michael thinking back to when he told his family that he enlisted in the Marines and how upset they were. It begins with Michael in his father's chair but not following his father's footsteps. If you watch this movie for the first time I want you to picture the first time you meet Michael in Part I - then press play. At the end, you should see a drastic change as if Michael is two people.
If there is anything that Michael will try to teach you as you watch this amazing film it is this, "There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."
It makes me realize that other movies I rated 5 stars would only deserve 3 stars if once compared to this total masterpiece.
Visually stunning and emotionally involving. Dark, moody and full of surprises. Only flaw is its astonishingly long 200-minute running time, which may cause the viewer's interest to wander at times.