This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"The Godfather: Part II" is an incredible movie, but to me, it's no "The Godfather." Chronicling the dark descent Michael Corleone continues on as the new Don, as well as give us flashbacks to the rise of Vito Corleone, "The Godfather: Part II" is a great logical sequel that builds upon the world of betrayals, family feuds, and absolute power absolutely corrupting from the first film. Al Pacino kills it in the role with his character no longer being the sheepish soldier come home thrust into the world of darkness and shadows but rather the hardened, frustrated, tactical leader of the Corleone family. Whereas the first film dealt mostly with conflicts coming externally towards the Corleone family, "The Godfather: Part II" deals with an internal implosion with Michael dealing with drama and betrayal from his brother Fredo, his sister Connie, and his wife Kay. John Cazale really steps it up from "Oh yeah, Michael did have another brother" to a fully-fleshed character desperately craving respect he believes he deserves and doing whatever he can to get it. This cold, business-like approach is juxtaposed to Vito's immigrant experience, driven by family-related motives to become a success. Many, many great scenes in the film, including a powerful ending.
Most of my gripes feel like they come with the baggage of being a sequel to "The Godfather" and it was missing the stylistic elements I really loved from the first film. Robert De Niro is good, but he's no Marlon Brando. Lighting is good, but not quite the constant awe of the first film. Story is great, but missing that streamlined feeling and a little more spark in it. I love this film for what it is and appreciate what it does to stand on its own, but I miss that love at first sight I had with the first film.