Anthony’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Godfather: Part II is a perfect sequel. The film explores the characters, themes, and ideas presented in the original, but on a scale of epic proportions. This film feels like an epic, where the first is much more intimate. That makes both films feel unique without one outshining the other. Rather, both films complement each other brilliantly.
The film brilliantly juxtaposes Michael’s fall as don to Vito’s rise. It is in that way that the film is able to highlight the flaws and internal battles of Al Pacino’s tragic character.
The film is paced brilliantly. There is never a dull moment, yet the film knows when to slow down the pace to give the audience time to take in a particular moment or scene. The emotional beats are hit perfectly, with each and every one feeling perfectly set up and paid off.
Coppola also found the perfect balance between the two simultaneous stories as both feel fully fleshed out and never feel as if they were interrupting the other story.
The performances are some of greatest in cinematic history. Al Pacino gives, in my opinion, his greatest performance. He has his loud outbursts and Pacinoisms, which are always entertaining, but it is in his quieter moments where you really see the strength of his performance. Robert De Niro shines as young Vito Corleone, as he finds the perfect balance between emulating Marlon Brando and making the role his own. His Oscar was well-deserved.
The rest of the supporting cast is equally great with the late-John Cazale, Talia Shire, and Robert Duvall perfectly building upon their previous performances by adding more depth to these characters, and Lee Strasberg and Michael V. Gazzo being phenomenal additions to the cast.
On a technical level, the film is simply brilliant from the luscious cinematography to the beautiful production designs. The score is pitch-perfect embodying the original, while also adding a unique edge to it.
All in all, The Godfather: Part II is the perfect sequel to The Godfather. While I prefer the original by a hair, The Godfather: Part II is a truly brilliant film that, on a rewatch, I can still call my second favorite film of all time.