Tuesday, January 27, 2015
587. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Running Time: 200 minutes
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Written By: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo, from novel by Mario Puzo
Main Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale
Click here to view the trailer
THE CANCER HAS TAKEN OVER
Spent my day off today watching part of The Godfather: Part II, taking a nap and then waking up to finish it off. It was quite the day off, snuggled up in bed with my wife. The night holds more movies for us (probably not BOOK movies) and I'm looking forward to it. Anyway, lets cover the supposed greatest sequel of all-time and a movie I'd never seen.
The film begins in Corleone, Sicily, hometown of young Vito Andolini, who's father is killed by a local Mafia leader, Don Ciccio. Vito's mother visits Ciccio after her other son is also killed by the Ciccio clan, begging that he spare the lives of her and Vito. When an argument ensues, Vito's mother is murdered and Vito runs away, eventually being put on a boat where he arrives at Ellis Island in New York. Off the boat, he is accidentally registered as Vito Corleone and the rest is history. Later in life, Vito (De Niro) values family above all else, holing up in a meager apartment with his beloved wife and baby son, Santino. When Vito gets a taste of the power that a Mafia Don can hold via Don Fanucci, he likes it, killing off Fanucci and taking over his territory. The rest, as they say, is history. Meanwhile, Michael (Pacino) is stronger than ever, having business dealing from Lake Tahoe, Nevada clear to Cuba. Early in the film, an attempt is made to assassinate Michael, as he is shot at while standing in his bedroom, the curtains opened wide. Michael comes out unscathed and with vengeance in his heart. Michael meets with a business associate in Miami, Hyman Roth whom he thinks may be behind the assassination attempt. He tells Roth that another associate, one in New York named Pentangeli was behind the attack on his life, making sure he keeps things smooth. He then tells Pentangeli that it was Roth who tried to kill him and later finds out that in actuality, his brother Fredo was also in on the hit on his own brother's life. Michael swears never to speak to Fredo again, while informing his men that no harm come to him while their mother is still alive. We bounce back and forth between the two stories throughout the picture.
Like a child who's been fed broccoli, I wish to spit this film out and proclaim, "I don't like it!". Okay, maybe it wasn't THAT bad, but I was definitely disappointed, as I'd heard time and again how this was the greatest sequel ever made and perhaps even better than the original Godfather. I laugh at those claims, as this is nowhere close to even being in the same league as the original picture. I will say, I loved the portions that told Vito's back story and in fact, I could've watched an entire film made up of just that stuff. I wonder if Puzo's novel goes into more detail about the history and rise to power of Vito Corleone and if so, I may have to give it a read someday.
It's just that so much is happening in the original. You've got the attempted murder on Vito, the transition to the dark side of Michael Corleone, the animosity between Sonny and Carlo, the war igniting between the five families, Michael's excursion in Italy and the deaths of several members of the family, including Sonny and Vito. What's happening in The Godfather: Part II? In the main story (the Michael story) there's really only one main storyline and that's the war between Michael and Pentangeli, Hyman and Fredo, all stemming from that one assassination attempt on Michael. It's also my stance that this movie has far less human element than the first one. I was able to go on and of for a few paragraphs, dissecting the characters of Vito and Michael and about the only character I could really dissect here would be Fredo, as Fredo becomes a much bigger player in Part II. Here, Michael is emotionless. Actually, no, he's not emotionless. He has one moment of emotion and it's all contained in that final scene, when he reflects on simpler times, him and his siblings sitting around the table, planning their father's birthday, Michael revealing that he's dropped out of college to join the marines. Other than that, the character of Michael here couldn't stand alone and without that first movie to back him up and provide his motivations, I wouldn't have given a hoot about this stereotypical gangster guy, out for blood, even if it means killing his own family and alienating his wife & children. I didn't care for this Michael, a Michael fully ravaged now by a spreading cancer that is being a criminal.
Nope, I'll stick with the original and join the camp that disregards the second as a meaningless sequel. Seriously, did we need this movie? It's my opinion that the final moments of the original Godfather tell us that Michael will be a bad man, a ruthless man and really, the whole of Godfather: Part II is just confirming this fact. Like I said, I dug the Vito stuff here and COULD have watched an entire movie about it, but I also realize you couldn't release a Part II, without progressing the story and giving us more of what's going on now, so I get why new material had to be added, i.e. the Hyman/Pentangeli stuff. If my research was correct, that stuff wasn't included in Puzo's original novel, but in a later novel published in 2004, called The Godfather Returns. I must say I think I'm just a detester (not a word) of sequels and could've easily done without this. I pushed The Godfather: Part III to the top of my queue and while my hopes aren't high, maybe it can win me over a little more than this.
RATING: 6.5/10 I liked it, but not enough and actually it made me appreciate the original even more. Also, all in all, I appreciate Coppola much more than I used to, but consider The Conversation to be superior to both Godfather films.
MOVIES WATCHED: 905
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 96
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