Evan Ambrose’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power.“
Undoubtedly not as tight-paced or plotted, intensely executed, and memorable in blood-curdling sequences or waves of dialogue as its imposing predecessor, The Godfather Part II ultimately doesn’t vanquish with its technical abilities when placed next to its dear “parent” in my opinion. Yet, it seems unfair to completely hold Part II accountable for not quite living up equally to the groundworks of what Francis Ford Coppola initially devised, considering how vastly independent and different the two are as films. The Godfather Part II rather clashes pieces from both the past and the present to output a devastating allegory of a story, making its long term events appear more grand or serious in the larger scheme of things than what had transpired in Coppola’s original masterpiece.
The goal of The Godfather Part II seems simple: explain the beginning of how Vito Corleone built an entirely new family from a materialistic “nothing” and then counterweight it to a current Michael Corleone tearing that family down to smithereens with everything in his power. The balance of uplifting rises to success and harrowing declines into sin makes for a contrasting experience from Part I which was a cinematic treasure solely committed to showcasing the latter half of that arc to the best of its abilities. So in respectable manners, it makes sense why some choose Part II over Part I as the king of Coppola’s filmography, considering it utilizes plenty more plot-lines and events to plant this new /\-shape of meaning as deeply seeded as possible.
In numerous cases, Michael’s downfall in Part II is noticeably familiar in subject to his transformation in Part I, yet the consequences he receives this time around appear far more personal, catastrophic, and vivid. It’s also hard not to mention how symbolically genius and intentional the parallels between how Michael handles the business in Part II are to how Vito handled the business in Part I was — the companionship between both of these movies is truly jaw-dropping. Now having seen Part II, I honestly think it improves not only the meaning behind Part I but also the characters in Part I and the actions that they had committed.
However, I don’t believe that necessarily makes Part II the better Godfather movie when referring back to just how much more original, focused, and generally finer structured, written, scored, edited, shot, etc. the 1972 gangster hit was, but if anything, I give the 1974 follow-up all my respect for thematically amplifying what had already been insinuated to come in its “also cynical” predecessor.
🏆 Verdict: A