boardsofcinema’s review published on Letterboxd:
As the Rocky, Rambo, and even Police Academy films have all proved over the years, making sequels to movies people like is easy. Making said sequels live up to their predecessors’ standards is a bit harder, though it can be done (Aliens). Francis Ford Coppola didn’t just accomplish this for one of the most acclaimed films in cinematic history (The Godfather), but did it only two years after that masterpiece came out, having near-complete control over the production all the way through… and was greeted with some surprisingly mixed reviews.
Though the excellent performances, stunning cinematography, and Nino Rota’s unforgettably haunting score were still highly praised, The Godfather Part II’s very unconventional structure was initially viewed much less positively. Even Roger Ebert, who loved that quintessential first film, wound up declaring that “The stunning text of “The Godfather” is replaced in “Part II” with prologues, epilogues, footnotes, and good intentions.”
In a way, he’s right: Part II does simultaneously serve as an extended prologue and epilogue to its epic predecessor, and as a result, it admittedly is a tad messier. Unlike most sequels of this sort, however, Part II does all this in a way that actually enhances the events that came before—and after—it, not cheaply hinder them for the sake of making more money. Who knew.