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Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola

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A brilliant sequel that's very nearly as good as the original

  • Aug 9, 2006
THE GODFATHER was cinematic perfection, a film without flaw, considered by a great many to be the greatest film of all time. There are just as many who believe its sequel - or, more appropriately, its "continuation" - is even better. About 3/5 of THE GODFATHER: PART II is set in 1958, when Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) has taken over his father's crime syndicate. The other 2/5 revolve around young Vito Corleone (played by Robert De Niro), his arrival in America and his start as a young Mafioso. The film focuses particularly on how each Corleone runs the business and how they treat their families: Michael is clever and ruthless, but treats his family as though they were prizes, inanimate objects; Vito was very wise and deep in his heart, thoughtful, running the syndicate as though it were a business and always taking care of his family.

While THE GODFATHER was no light-hearted romp, THE GODFATHER: PART II is considerably darker. I found Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone to be a likable guy, perhaps because Brando is my favorite actor and perhaps because I saw the good in him. Michael Corleone, however, is a monster, a heartless fiend who wipes out anyone who gets in his way - family or otherwise. Pacino is outstanding; this performance is the highlight of his career. Robert De Niro is marvelous as well; he deserved his Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Shockingly - or not so shockingly, depending on your opinion of the Academy Awards - Al Pacino did not win an Oscar for his performance, though he was nominated. He lost to Art Carney in HARRY AND TONTO. Lee Strasberg and particularly Michael V. Gazzo are both excellent as well.

Nino Rota's sweeping, grandiose score sounds even more magnificent here and really adds to the epic feel of the film. Director Francis Ford Coppola and GODFATHER author Mario Puzo do a fantastic job with the script, part of which is adapted from the original GODFATHER novel (the Vito Corleone flashbacks) and part of which is original (the Michael Corleone scenes). This film has as many unforgettable scenes as THE GODFATHER, and some memorable lines ("I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You BROKE my heart!"). One of my favorites comes from Michael: "If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone."

Francis Ford Coppola's directing is truly masterful; very rarely has it been rivaled. Gordon Willis' cinematography is stunning; something about the way the scenes are staged, the camera angles, the lighting, makes the violence seem all the more real, powerful, and unflinching. The editing is seamless. It's no small triumph to make a 200-minute epic film that keeps you riveted through the entire motion picture.

In the end, it all comes down to one of the most debated questions in movie history: which is better - THE GODFATHER or THE GODFATHER: PART II? I cannot decide. Some days I will sway towards THE GODFATHER, while others I will sway toward PART II. What is certain is that THE GODFATHER: PART II is the greatest sequel of all time, and without a doubt one of the five greatest films ever made - perhaps even number one.

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More The Godfather: Part II reviews
review by . June 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****       I think what makes Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather" films so intriguing is the fact that the mobsters portrayed within the film's story are not beaten down merely by business and deals. They are often brought down by temptation, love, violence, power, and admiration. These needs make the mafia characters more human than they probably need to be. I like these characters a lot; several of them are "classic gangster figures". Yet they all have …
review by . November 10, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
I would have given this movie 4 1/2 stars but not quite 5. It is a great sequel but pales in comparison to the first film. The continuation in the Michael Corleone saga is good but drags in places, especially towards the end. The Hyman Roth story is nowhere near as fascinating as the Solatzo/Barzini etc. from the first. The flashbacks to the young Vito Corleone was excellent but did not cover the depth that the book had (when does a movie ever equal the book?). Great actors! Pacino and De Niro actually …
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Tom Benton ()
Ranked #121
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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Francis Ford Coppola took some of the deep background from the life of Mafia chief Vito Corleone--the patriarch of Mario Puzo's bestselling novelThe Godfather--and built around it a stunning sequel to his Oscar-winning, 1972 hit film. Robert De Niro plays Vito as a young Sicilian immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York City's Little Italy. Coppola weaves in and out of the story of Vito's transformation into a powerful crime figure, contrasting that evolution against efforts by son Michael Corleone to spread the family's business into pre-Castro Cuba. As memorable as the first film is,The Godfather IIis an amazingly intricate, symmetrical tragedy that touches upon several chapters of 20th-century history and makes a strong case that our destinies are written long before we're born. This was De Niro's first introduction to a lot of filmgoers, and he makes an enormous impression. But even with him and a number of truly brilliant actors (including maestro Lee Strasberg), this is ultimately Pacino's film and a masterful performance.--Tom Keogh
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