The Godfather Part 2 (1974) Movie Review

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Right, after doing The Godfather Part 1 and choosing to do an April Fools joke in which I played a politically correct gluten-free (despite no need to take it up) save-the-House-Fly individual and then letting you know that it’s 1 of those films that is close to perfection, a 5-star film that is better than a number of other films that are also rated 5-stars.  I also mentioned in the review of Part 1 that I would fall into the camp of “Part 1 is better than Part 2”.  But after finally watching Part 2 again after all of these years, it then brings up the question of whether I have chosen the right 1.  If you are reading this, chances are you’ll have already seen Part 1 and are therefore going to be shocked by the amount of spoilers while I compare the 2.  So, without further ado, lets discuss The Godfather Part 2.

Unlike Part 1, which is 1 story that spans through from 1945 to 1955 and acts as both the final chapter to Vito Corleone’s reign as Godfather/Don Of The Corleone family, and a prologue to the rise of his youngest son, Michael, who has now taken on the role of Don, as well as the responsibilities of protecting this large, extended family.  Part 2 is split into 2 different stories that go back and forth between each other.  1 story focuses on the life and rise of Vito Corleone, from a 9 year old boy in 1901 witnessing the death of his family at the hands of the ruthless Don Ciccio in Sicily, to his arrival in New York, to his increase in connections through favours, to the meeting of Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio, and of course the growth and introduction of his family.  The other story focuses on Michael’s reign as Don Corleone in the late ’50s/early ’60s, who has now moved his family and some operations from New York to Nevada, and left his New York home to Frank Pentangeli (Who succeeded Peter Clemenza in the film.  The role was originally intended to be played by Clemenza, but when actor Richard S. Castellano was told he couldn’t write his own dialogue, that was the end of it, and Pentangeli was created to fill the hole…and what a filling!).

There isn’t very much new analysis of The Godfather Part 2 that can be addressed anymore, because this is a film that is basically like the 20th Century’s answer to the work of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the renaissance artists).  It is a fantastic work of art in basically every area, and that’s despite the setbacks in its consistency with both the book and its prequel.  Indeed, it lacks Marlon Brando as an older Vito and Richard Castellano as an older Clemenza, but they managed to pull everything off fantastically despite this.

The main question of debate though…is The Godfather Part 2 better than Godfather Part 1?  Despite the possibility, I will go with the answer that “They’re different, with some areas being better done in 1 than the other, but are as equal as children in the eyes of a loving father”. Is there a difference in story quality between the 2?  Yes.  Part 1 had a consistent awesomeness.  It was full of highlights, but the overall story is its strength, and if there was a test in strength between 1 and 2, Part 1 would win the endurance battle.  Part 2, however, has its evident ups and downs.  But the highlights are so strong that some of them outdo Part 1 (In the test of strength, ‘2 would rely on explosive bursts of power more than endurance).  Which 1s come to mind?  Well, Vito’s entire story for 1 thing.  It makes up about a third to half of the film.  But Robert De Niro’s performance as Vito is 1 of the best in the history of cinema, and while Vito is a bad ass in Part 1, He’s a legendary bad ass in Part 2.  Michael’s story is fantastic, but its consistency is at times patchy.  Its highlights, however, could outdo Part 1 in some places.  Which 1s come to mind?  Any scene that involves Michael interacting with Fredo or Kay and his meeting with Frank Pentangeli at his old home in New York.  Some of these scenes show off Al Pacino’s range.  His character is repressed (to let nobody know what he’s really thinking), but not emotionless…and he does snap when he is overwhelmed by an undesirable circumstance.

The characters in Part 2 aren’t quite as colourful as Part 1 (even if Hyman Roth is brilliant), but they’re still really good, and any returning characters were all developed much further and incredibly well.

The music is mostly the same as part 1, and that’s not a bad thing.  It remains haunting and beautiful, with the main theme still being 1 that plays in your head, even if you haven’t seen the film in years.

The cinematography in Part 2 is better than Part 1 (something that once again bumps them up to equals), especially those long shots of Vito Corleone walking through the streets of 1910s New York.  One thing that I found about these scenes is the fact that it’s easy to focus on Vito, but when you don’t, and you choose to look at the extras, you see a lot more going on than simply “look like you’re doing something”, these extras have a lot more effort put into them than even an episode of Game Of Thrones (consider this…that’s how well put-together it was).

Would I recommend The Godfather Part 2?  Yes?  If you’ve seen Part 1, then it’s a no-brainer.  It remains an unbelievably strong film on its own, and it’s not only still 1 of the best films ever made, but it’s timeless.  The films might not be known for their comedy or humour, but humanity is famously displayed in this film, and demonstrates the range of good and evil among men.  Where some evil men are simply doing it for business and others are doing it for themselves and others are doing it for the protection of their families.  Where there is action, there is motive.

Overall Rating: ***** (no need for breakdowns, this really is 5-stars)

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