Scott Anderson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Roughly a month ago, I revisited The Godfather for the first time in half of my life, about 14 or 15 years. I always knew it was a brilliant film, but it took me seeing it again to truly understand it's wonders, the artistry of the film making. When the film finished and the review had been typed, I knew the next step was to take a journey through the much beloved, legendary sequel, which also had been viewed only once by these eyes prior so many years ago.
The length of the film is daunting before it actually begins, my mind warped by so many overlong, bloated modern films that I go into a film from another era expecting to at some point be bored. It just isn't possible to be bored by The Godfather: Part II, with so much story to tell that it never once feels like a scene should have been left on the editing room floor. One of my favorite aspects of this film is the way it seamlessly and beautiful tells the stories of both Michael Corleone during the film's present day as he runs the family empire, and also the, for lack of a better way of putting it, origin story of his father Vito Corleone starting all the way back at his trip to America as a boy, and following him into adulthood as he started his life of crime that would lead to the family legacy.
The familiar fantastic cast from the first is back for this incredible film, with the obvious exceptions of actors like Marlon Brando and James Caan due to character deaths in the original (although Caan does appear during a flashback scene at the end of the film). The major addition here being the sublimely perfect performance by Robert DeNiro as the young Vito, so believable and inspired with his vocal work and mannerisms making it easy for us to recognize that he would eventually become the Godfather.
I know it is a common thing to announce which of the two Godfather films is personally preferred, and if I must choose I believe the original is ever so slightly superior to this film. That isn't as much a knock on Part II as it is a compliment to the first, because in it's own way this film is just as memorable and iconic, just as flawless and awe inspiring. The only way I could even make the decision was asking myself which film gave me chills more, and I believe that to be The Godfather. That's how astonishing these films are, they transcend the 5 star rating applied to them and are judged on a brand new scale: how often does my body literally physically react to the images on the screen?
I have seen a lot of great films, but it is rare to experience ones on a level of the first two installments of The Godfather trilogy.