spingy’s review published on Letterboxd:
The original Godfather is, obviously, one of my favorite films of all time, so my expectations for this were definitely high. And, yeah, I prefer it to the first.
The presentation of this film contains everything I love about the first; the practical blood effects which hold up flawlessly, the cinematography, the particularly amazing lighting and the lack of editing. The production in this one was also noticeably excellent and, along with the costume design, perfectly captured the time period and setting. Much like the first film, the use of music is also ingenious, not only is the score itself fantastic but it's used in the best way possible. It plays plenty of times throughout multiple scenes but whenever there's any form of violence it immediately stops, making the moment unnervingly quiet. This also helps to build tension; whenever a scene plays without music in the background, you subconsciously find it intense because of the way the score had been used previously in the film. Every single cut, sound effect and shot is masterfully perfected in this movie and this films technical aspects are completely flawless.
None of the violence is romanticized and it all feels very raw. All of the deaths are disturbingly quiet and many are captured in a single unbroken take. The way in which people are killed in this film is also fairly realistic, never too large on scale, and the fact that it's so grounded makes plenty of scenes very disturbing and powerful.
This film is an insane 3 and a half hours long, that's 30 minutes longer than the first and, for some context, 15 minutes longer than any Lord of the Rings movie, but, miraculously, it only felt like 2 hours for me. This is due to the pacing being absolutely flawless; no moment is wasted and every single scene has a purpose. This film has even more going on than the original, yet it still never feels bloated and no storyline is under-developed. As well as continuing the Michael plotline, this film also has constant flashbacks showing what led Vito to become the godfather in the first film. Both of these stories are equally engaging and since this movie's so long, a lot of time is spent on both of them. It also doesn't swap between these two storylines too frequently, with around twenty minutes being spent on each of them at a time, meaning that it's never bloated. There are no cliche's here which feel unnecessary or forced and there are plenty of reveals in the plot, none of being predictable and all making sense in full context of the film.
But just like the first Godfather, the best part of this film are the characters. To start off with, all of their performances are brilliant, with Robert De Niro flawlessly playing a younger Vito, perfectly capturing all of his mannerisms, voice and body language. Every other actor is amazing too and there isn't even an extra who doesn't play their role flawlessly. The amount of development for everyone, especially Michael, is also extremely impressive; the script recognizes that his actions are bad, but it gives very complex reasons for his character to do those things. It's clear what he values and because of that it's very easy to sympathize with him, without the script ever forcing you to agree with his character. It's also incredibly interesting to see him and his family fall apart because of his choices, again, none of which feel forced. Even side characters are given a lot of depth in a very short amount of time, due to the details in their mannerisms and the way they speak. There's a large handful of scenes here which don't necessarily develop the story but just give some great character moments which make them feel just that little bit more like real people. Another somewhat strange compliment I have for this movie is the way in which people talk here; characters often stutter and stumble in their sentences, making the dialogue even more raw.
And to top this all off, The Godfather: Part II is also an amazing sequel. Every element and story beat is a natural progression of the first film and although it does explore unfinished arcs and conflicts from the original it doesn't leave every stone upturned. Finally finishing with an open-ended ending which closes off the film perfectly.
Overall, The Godfather: Part II is, along with There Will Be Blood, the only film which I can consider perfect in every way.
⬅️The Elephant Man