The Godfather Part II, along with the first, is largely considered as one of the greatest films of all time. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I think this can rightfully be called so because these two films set the bar for what a mafia film should be.
Like the first Godfather film, great acting is seen here as well. Another great performance from Al Pacino, as the continuity and growth from his Godfather I performance is highly evident here. Other than that, Robert De Niro also provides a praise-worthy performance in this film as the young Vito Corleone. I think it was the Godfather that made Pacino and De Niro staple names when it comes to mob movies, later appearing in films like The Goodfellas, Scarface and Donnie Brasco to name a few.
What’s even more interesting about the second Godfather film is how different it was from the first movie. The Godfather Part II features a far more complex and intricate plot as it weaves two stories – those of the young Vito Corleone and his struggles through childhood and growing up, and of Michael Corleone following the events of the first Godfather film. This makes for an interesting movie because it ends up serving as both a prequel and a sequel to Godfather Part I. The article by Robert William Berg explains how this is made interesting by the contrast of Michael’s growth with that of his father Vito. It was interesting how the two stories seemed to bounce off of each other, constantly switching from one to the other. This seemed to perfectly complement each other while at the same time developing the main story arc of Michael’s reign as Don. While all of this is happening, the flashbacks also provide us a lot of insight on the histories of each of the other characters, especially that looking back at them as children help us understand the characters that they have developed from and into from the first film to this one. The second Godfather film takes advantage of the first so well that put together, the continuity from first to second is incredible, almost as though the film was shot as one. This makes for a great sequel and prequel at the same time, as all 3 stories seem to merge, keeping the audience immersed in the lives and workings of the Corleone family from beginning to end.
Though many complain about the length of the movie, as it is very long (at over three hours, divided into two parts) and extremely eventful, I don’t think it could have nor should have been done any other way. As stated by Berg, it’s like having two films merged into one. What makes it even more interesting is how the two films work together to form the whole that is the Godfather Part II. Either way, I think The Godfather Part II is a great film on its own and as both a prequel and a sequel to the first.