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Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola

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The satisfactory second child.

  • Jun 23, 2011
Rating:
+4
***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 personalities, histories, motives, and talented actors filling in whatever blanks may be left.

"The Godfather: Part II" is a good film because it does not leave the characters behind. If you remember, Marlon Brando's character, Don Vito Corleone, died in the conclusion of the first film. In my review for "The Godfather", I clearly stated that the film would not have been the same without the actor. So with Brando out of the picture, where does that leave "Part II"?

I guess I worried too much when I was preparing to watch "The Godfather: Part II". Some claim it is one of the best sequels ever made, and in ways, they are not kidding. While I do not consider it a great film, and while it's no "Godfather", "Part II" has its pleasures; one of them being Coppola's sly ability to extend the length and still come up with a worthwhile story.

Leaving off from the first film, Michael (Al Pacino) has taken the throne as the new "Don", or godfather, of the Corleone family; after the death of Do Vito, the previous Godfather of the family. This time, there's a twist that makes the story slightly more accessible to more adventurous audiences; two parallel story-lines. One focuses on Michael's reign as the head of the crime family, while one serves as a flash-back of much insight into the past of Don Vito. We see Vito as a child, threatened to be executed in the presence of his mother. We learn that she should be dead, but he evaded death and escaped his way into the open world. And it is at this moment that the great man begins his fantastic life.

Even if half the story is focused on the rise of a young Vito (Robert De Niro), I still feel that this story is fixated much more on Michael. The film begins with yet another party, much like in the first film, except that this time, it's the First Communion of Michael's son Anthony. The party is at a lake, and much like Vito in the first film, Michael cannot attend most of the party because of the arrival of business issues and the like. And this is just the beginning of the film.

Of course, most of the film is dedicated to Michael striking up deals with people who try to play him like a card in a deck; thus cheating him. Then there's all this typical stuff about revenge, talk about philosophy, politics, emotions, and whatever you'd primarily expect from a film in the epic "Godfather" trilogy. While, like I said, this sequel is longer than the first film (by twenty minutes, to be precise), it's not a whole lot less interesting. "The Godfather: Part II" is a very good film; flawlessly crafted and smartly written, and Coppola's direction has never been better. Al Pacino's performance is unforgettable, De Niro turns in another good one, and Robert Duvall returns as Tom Hagen, and he's as entertaining as you remember him being, that is, if you found him entertaining to begin with. I was very entertained by this sequel, and it lives up to most of the hype that I happened upon initially. But for me, it lacks the same requirements when it comes to an emotional investment, then say, "The Godfather". But that's why I said it "no Godfather"; because it's not.

If you liked "The Godfather", then you will definitely enjoy "The Godfather: Part II". It's a very good sequel; one of the most faithful and satisfactory I've seen. For me, nothing could have compared to the feel and glamour of the original "Godfather", so I was not expecting a film of the exact equivalent. It is slightly inferior, I must confess, but the same visual look is still here, the same acting talents are still here, and so are we; so there must be a certain charm to these characters, in this scenario, that we ultimately surrender to. I might as well have sold my soul. Bring on "Part III".

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June 25, 2011
awesome coverage, Ryan!
 
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More The Godfather: Part II reviews
review by . August 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
review by . August 10, 2006
The GODFATHER trilogy needs no introduction. THE GODFATHER, released in 1972 and based on Mario Puzo's novel (at one time the bestselling novel of all time), is considered by many to be the greatest film of all time. It was directed and co-written by young Francis Ford Coppola, who did an absolutely outstanding job. Gordon Willis' unflinching and beautiful cinematography is superb, while Nino Rota's sweeping score is unforgettable. The cast is magnificent. Marlon Brando, in his signature role as …
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 …
review by . July 22, 2003
Is this a prequel or a sequel? In some ways, both. What we have here is a film which provides essential background information about Vito Corleone who later became a crime family don (played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather) and a continuation of the saga as Michael succeeds his father as don and proceeds with plans to involve his family only in legitimate enterprises. One of the several reasons that Coppola received an Academy Award for best director and The Godfather Part II received an Academy …
review by . August 24, 2001
This is the only sequel to ever have achieved the same critical acclaim as the first movie in a series, with both I and II winning the "Best Picture" Academy Award. There were a number of features I enjoyed about this movie. The frequent "deep background" information was wonderful and well-done, incorporating the only major section of "The Godfather" novel to be missing from the first movie -- and showcasing Robert DeNiro as the young Don Corleone. I also enjoyed the historical connection with the …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #5
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

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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