Yawn. Lame sequel.
It’s just a bit long. At 192 minutes, I’m just not feeling the sequel to Coppola’s classic film The Godfather. Made two years after the first, this film acts as both a prequel and a sequel to the original, with about one hour of the film devoted to Robert De Niro as a young Vito Corleone making his way in the U.S., the other two hours following Michael (Al Pacino), now the Don of the Corleone family. I should mention that those parts are intertwined, and not separated like oil and water.
However, I find those latter two hours to just be a bit… dull. For all I care, this is simply Michael being a don and having to put up with ‘donly’ things, whether that be going to Cuba to exact revenge on a family friend who tried to have you killed (I think that’s what happened), beating your wife when she tells you she had an abortion because she doesn’t want your farce of a marriage to continue, or just killing your brother because he betrayed you to the afore-mentioned family friend. I’ll admit, that actually makes it sound rather interesting, but that’s only because they aren’t spaced out over THREE HOURS. We mainly see Michael sitting in an armchair and looking grumpy. In the first film, he was a character I could relate to (almost). He isn’t any more, and watching him sit around in armchairs having sombre meetings and occasionally killing the odd bloke doesn’t really engage me at all. He’s only in a threatened position once: he and his wife are shot at through the window by assassins. After that, everything bounces off the man, including accusations in a courtroom. He’s in no danger whatsoever, and I find it boring.
What isn’t boring is Vito’s rise to power. At the beginning of the film, we witness nine-year-old Vito Andolini (for that was once his name) running from Don Ciccio as his mother is brutally murdered, in 1901. He flees Sicily, and makes his way to the U.S. where he is accidentally registered as Vito Corleone, after the town he has fled from. Sixteen years later, the boy has grown into a rather handsome De Niro, complete with the husky accent, and we witness him slowly becoming the ruthless man we know him to be. While still as nasty as the rest of the film, these scenes seem brighter and more polished than the rest of the film, almost as if seen through rose-coloured glasses. A romantic look on dark killings. That’s an offer I can’t refuse!
The final flashback in the film is one of the best scenes, where Michael explains how he’s joined the marines. His brother Sonny is angry at him, but Tom Hagen calmly explains why he’s not impressed, saying that he and Vito had plans for him. Michael expresses that he has his own plans, but when we flash forward to the Michael sitting by Lake Tahoe, we see that those plans never came to fruition. This is an excellent aspect of the film, and one that was introduced roughly three hours too late.
The interesting bits are interesting, but there’s far too few of them. While this film is less difficult to follow than its predecessor, I simply don’t find it as gripping. I feel like Part II doesn’t really further the development of Michael in any way, only propagate his image as a ruthless killer. I wasn’t even surprised when Fredo had to die, it’s not like family blood would get in his way. Great acting all round, but it was the plot that needed some improvement.