My thoughts: I really liked this movie. It did an excellent job of harkening back to The Godfather Part I while still being its own original film and telling its own story.
Recommendation: Should you watch this movie . . . only if you want to live a full and happy life. Yes, I highly recommend this film. It is long, so it requires commitment, but it is totally worth it! Also do not watch it without first watching The Godfather Part I or else there will be severe damage to the space-time continuum and the world as we know it will end and it will be all your fault; just kidding. But seriously watch The Godfather movies in order.
Story/Screenplay (10 points possible): The story of the Corleone family as told in The Godfather movie trilogy is one of the most intricate, intriguing and compelling stories of all time. It shows the persistent human need for dominance and the various consequences of achieving that goal, while emphasizing the idea that that lust for power can never be truly satisfied. I loved that this movie gave background to prominent characters from the first film (*ahem* Vito). Giving these characters history made them seem more real which made the story all the more impactful. All that said, this film spent too much time focusing on the “family business.” If it had spent less time on Michael’s “business” transactions and more time on the things going on in Michael’s family, Kate’s decisions in the end would have made more sense to the audience and would not have felt so random and abrupt. She clearly had this whole journey going on during the time the audience was watching Michael do “business.” At the beginning she loved Michael and at the end she loathed him. The audience doesn’t get to see any of that transition from love to loath and as a result the end of the film felt choppy and incomplete. Also, that scene where she tells Michael about the abortion should have been one of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie, but they just tried too hard and it was my least favorite scene. There was too much dialogue. Michael’s not an idiot, Kate didn’t need to tell him 6 times that it was an abortion nor did she need to define abortion twice. Michael’s not dumb, the audience is not dumb. I felt like the director was calling me an idiot with the melodramatic explanations of that scene. That is the only criticism I have of this story, because let’s be real, it’s an amazing and well-written story!
Acting (10 points possible): Robert Duvall (Tom Hagan) delivered his usual fabulous performance making the character of Tom feel both trustworthy and mysterious. By the end, he had the audience feeling like Tom was starting to get caught up in the power struggle, but at the same time the audience doesn’t want to believe it because Tom is . . . Tom. Al Pacino did a great job of giving us a very sinister Michael. The character of Michael did not require as much depth in this film as in the first film, because there is no transition from good to bad. He is all bad and Al Pacino makes us feel Michael’s pure evil! Robert De Niro was an amazing Vito (he gets a 12 out of 10). His performance was original and completely his own, but still complimentary to Marlon Brando’s performance in the first film. He had big shoes to fill but he stepped up to the task perfectly! All and all the cast was phenomenal. The one person that did not live up to the standards set by the first film was Diana Keaton in the role of Kate. This film requires a lot of sinister seriousness and Kate’s character was just a little too dramatic. One does not screech and babble in the presence of Michael Corleone; it simply isn’t done. Kate ought to know that to get something from Michael you do one of two things: ask “with respect” or try to undermine him and go behind his back. Kate doesn’t do either of these things, she throws a melodramatic fit and then expects Michael to do what she tells him. Keaton’s performance was over-the-top making Kate’s character unrealistic. Luckily she was backed by the rest of an amazingly strong cast, so her subpar performance didn’t completely ruin the film.
Cinematography (10 points possible): Well Francis Ford Coppola is a genius. There are little symbolic cinemograph secrets in every scene. My favorite was the scene with Michael, Hyman Roth, and the birthday cake. Someone (not me, someone who knows more about cinematography) could write a book about the depth of that scene. Suffice it to say, the cake was a wonderful and telling symbol of some of the things happening throughout the movie. Coppola is a master of using mise-en-scene to tell a story. He just leaves these wonderful little nuggets throughout the film for the audience to find that add so much more depth and meaning to the movie; it’s magnificent. No criticisms here.
Soundtrack (10 points possible): There was not a lot of music in the film, which actually gave a wonderful sense of unease. The persistent silence in many scenes kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was lurking around the corner. The music that was used was intentional and wonderful. My only criticism is that there was a lot of fuzz in the background that sometimes made the dialogue hard to hear. Whether that was an intentional choice or a result of outdated sound equipment, it was annoying and detracted from certain parts of the film.
Overall Score: 35/40