The Godfather: Part II

The Godfather: Part II ★★★★

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Sight and Sound Top 250 - #31

This film is a sequel to one of the most celebrated films of the 70's. A lot of people would give this full marks but I for one did not think this held up along with the first film. I think maybe Chinatown or The Conversation should have maybe won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

This film is a continuation of Michael Corleone's position as the Don and detailing on his goal to make the Corleone family legitimate. At the same time, it also shows the beginnings of Vito Corleone. This is, for me, where the good and the bad side of the film is apparent. I'm going to start with the bad side. What made the film so great was that it was really a focus on family and the culture of the Italian people. This film feels like it just focuses on Michael and the consequences of his actions, the destruction of relationships and the creation of enemies. The business being focused on in this film, in Michael's story, doesn't work a lot for me as I find it a little boring. Hyman Roth is so dull as a villain that I did not care whether or not he succeeds or fails. The good side of the film is the focus on Vito Corleone's rise in New York in the early 20th century. It's very fascinating on how he became who he is as it's supported with an interesting villain, Fannuci. The crumbling of Michael's soul is definitely an aspect that I liked, as we felt that he has definitely changed since the beginning of the first film; but I wish the story behind it was just stronger.

Coppola did not exactly screw this film up, it's definitely strong and the more you watch it the stronger it gets but I felt his work on the first was most definitely his best within the trilogy. It was brilliant on how he decided to have this film edited. Juxtaposing the rise of both father and son and how different in the direction both of them go, gives it much more weight and effect. The man pretty much made a sequel and prequel at the same time and not be a disappointment.

Gordon Willis, like in the first film, creates this feeling of an old photograph due to the image giving off this golden hue. The film really feels like a period film, and it helps us feel like we are watching a film created in that time. I guess Willis didn't really get much from this film compared to the first because it's not something new. Nevertheless the photography is still strong even today.

The music here is a little different and at times a little darker but that's just because of Michael's fall from grace. It still has that iconic music by Nino Nota from the first film and when it appears, you get this feeling of nostalgia.

The acting was excellent as expected. Pacino was able to make this character who was frightening without doing much. There are many moments where this guy feels really ruthless. The supporting cast was also great like the first film but there is a shift in focus on Michael rather than the whole family. In the flashback sequences, Robert De Niro was the only one really focused on and the rest had very little to do. De Niro may have gained more popularity in Scorsese's Mean Streets but I think this is where he really shines and where everybody took notice of him. Lee Strasberg was fine in playing a villain who really doesn't do a lot, he doesn't even feel threatening but Gaston Moschin as Fanuuci was fantastic. The man showed the he owns this side of town and everybody must respect him or else. Overall they are all deserving of credit.

I may be a minority who think this film is not a masterpiece but I just do not find it as strong as the first as Michael's storyline felt flat. The flashback storyline and terrific acting and direction makes this film a must watch.

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