HappyTreeSpirit’s review published on Letterboxd:
There is no doubt that this is probably the best sequel ever made, it really does live up to that hype. It's also just a really great film in general, sequel or not. This time we are awarded with two stories to follow, one that takes place during the present and the other during the past. It is really hard for me to choose whether I like Part II or the original Godfather more but there is no doubt that this sequel has definitely exceeded expectations. It acts really well as both a complimentary piece to the previous movie but can also be seen as a standalone film as well. It is a long one but the ride will feel quite short due to the highly engrossing storyline. Part II is great because it dives more into themes of corruption and power that was lacking in the original.
However, we also get to revisit old themes like cultural differences and Italian lifestyle that made the first Godfather so damn intriguing. Part II is even more ambitious though as we see the Corleone family struggle to maintain their dominance over everyone else. The emotional suspense is also on point with some scenes that literally make you sit on the edge of your seat. It plays out just like a Shakespeare tragedy. Just like its predecessor, it is a timeless classic. The whole cast is great as well, especially Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone. He really does add a lot to Part II that makes it far more epic in scope. It is also brilliant in its portrayal of mafia style violence and how there are repercussions for those that betray the trust of others.
Part II is the definitive old school Italian mob film. Al Pacino is also great as the lead and his presence/demeanor alone demands attention. He is quite excellent. Often times most sequels are bastardized versions of the original but not in this case. There are lots of new characters and emotionally dramatic scenes that make the second outing of The Godfather a glorious time.