This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Max Parsons’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
There is not much that can be said which would be suffice enough to justify the brilliance of The Godfather: Part II. The film is a sprawling follow-up to a masterpiece, which may make it seem like something extremely challenging to create. Although, not only does The Godfather: Part II masterfully encompass everything great in the medium - it arguably tops the perfect film that its predecessor is.
The Godfather: Part II interweaves two different stories from the Corleone family and both immaculately fit together. One portrays Vito Corleone's early life and the beginning of his role as the Corleone family patriarch while the other is of Michael Corleone's rise, corruption and fall as the new Don. The Godfather: Part II flawlessly showcases this tale of father and son from two different time periods alongside each other to broaden the study of America's crime underworld.
The characters are also impeccably fleshed out and the performances from Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are phenomenal. Michael is a man who has to take over the responsibilities that his father had and he makes multiple enemies while having this title. Despite being reluctant to obtain his father's role in the first Godfather, Michael transforms into a cold-hearted man. Pacino conveys the evil and wickedness in Michael's heart which wants to prevail, while keeping his performance subtle throughout. The Godfather: Part II further develops the character of Michael Corleone from the first film and the way Pacino pulls off the darkening of the character is incredible. Michael contrasts from the first film, as he is a man determined to stop the forces going against him, and Pacino's performance as Michael Corleone is one of the greatest ever put to film for embodying these fascinating characteristics.
Robert De Niro achieves the same brilliance with his portrayal as a young Vito Corleone. De Niro's performance impeccably executes the humble beginning of Vito Corleone in a New York neighborhood before his rise to power. Likewise with Pacino, De Niro delivers the subtly which gradually and flawlessly develops the fascinating character of Vito Corleone. The back-story of Vito Corleone is an apt complement to the story of Michael's gradual but brutal corruption. Not only does it inform you of the family history, it opens up a new dimension to the indelible character from the first Godfather film. This extends your fascination of Vito Corleone, parallel to how we see Michael's character drastically change.
The Godfather: Part II also manages to perfectly conclude itself with a profound and haunting ending. This reflects the epic tale of crime, corruption, darkness and deceit that unfolded over the three hours and ended with bloodshed and broken souls. This is easily one of the best film endings of all time. It just leaves you speechless when you see Michael left alone, cold and isolated and perfectly ends a perfect film.
I cannot find the right words that truly define The Godfather: Part II, but overall the film is sheer perfection. The delivery of the dialogue, the screenplay, the aesthetics, the pacing, and the music (and every other aspect I forgot to mention that would add emphasis) are nothing short of a masterclass in quality. The entire story is deeply compelling and emotional and everything as a whole achieves to portray a dark tale of corruption, deceit, crime and family matters. The Godfather: Part II is without a doubt one of the best films ever made and a film very deserving of the accolade masterpiece.