The Godfather Two takes the first movie and blows it up to epic proportions, both literally and figuratively. For one, it is much ambitious in terms of size and scope; spanning two generations worth of crime families, and providing a back story for the much revered icon Don Vito Corleone of the first Godfather fame. It also takes the viewer to numerous locations, such as Italy for the back story and Havana for the expansion, because the Corleone family is considering branching out, taking small steps in order to become legitimate. As the details mentioned above have much continuity with regards to the first film, veterans of the series would ultimately feel rewarded for having invested time in watching Francis Ford Coppola’s magnum opus.
Because I could not fully express in words how much I love this movie, it would be biased of me to praise it immediately. Thus I would get my criticisms for it out of the way first.
If I were to criticize this film, then it is of my personal opinion that the action scenes in the first Godfather movie were much more memorable than this one. Where was the filmic quality of the morbid decapitation of Woltz’ six hundred thousand dollar prize horse, and its most convincing placement on the owner’s bed as a death threat? What we get in Part Two instead was the kiss between Michael and Fredo. (You broke my heart!) In addition to this, the execution of Don Fanucci seemed to pale in comparison to the ruthlessness of Michael’s point blank double assassination of Sollozzo and the Police Captain McCluskey; the anticipation with regard to whether the gun was hidden behind the toilet receptacle was priceless.
In addition to this, where was the hot female lead? Godfather I had the innocent looking yet infinitely sultry Simonetta Stefanelli, who, shockingly, was underage when the first movie was filmed. And don’t even get me started about that scene. Bellissima! On the other hand, we get a tired looking Kay Adams for the second movie. Not really a good comparison.
Kidding aside, Godfather II was really definitive in elevating the Mafia genre and could be said as the highlight of Francis Ford Coppola’s career. It would be quite repetitive to again discuss the use of film elements, but as is evident, this film is characteristically Coppola. For instance, lighting was even and the flashback scenes could be clearly delineated to what was happening in the present; with the flashbacks utilizing golden hues, while the present utilizing much darker colours. In addition to this, much respect and admiration should be accorded to Robert De Niro for playing such a suave and honourable character in the presence of the young Vito Corleone. Most notable are the scenes where they were yet at the short end of misfortune; helpless as he watched his first born struggle with pneumonia, and how after assassinating Don Fanucci he immediately professes his love to his family and specifically to his youngest child. “Michael, your father loves you very much.” Enough to wet the eyes of even the most hardened gangsters (or wannabes.)
I love Godfather II and how it has made me appreciate film in general. It has formed a significant part of my childhood, and me along with my father and brother have bonded numerous times over this movie. Watching it for film class and reminiscing about the good times makes it all the more rewarding.