The Godfather: Part III (1990)

reviewed by
Laurie D. T. Mann

                             THE GODFATHER III
                       A film review by Laurie Mann
                        Copyright 1990 Laurie Mann

It's Christmas night and I'm eating frozen lasagna for dinner.

That probably expresses my emotions about THE GODFATHER III more than any formal review I could write.

But that's a cheat. Maybe some people out there prefer frozen lasagna the real thing, and may think I'm praising the movie, so I'd better be explicit.

I'm a real fan of both THE GODFATHER I & II, and looked forward to GIII for a long time. While Coppola's had a long run of bad luck, APOCALYPSE NOW, the "Godfather" movies, and PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED are some of my favorite movies. I thought he could pull a third "Godfather" movie off.

     I was wrong.

The third "Godfather" movie is a triumph of style over substance. The set decorations are wonderful. But the direction, acting and scripting of this movie are pitiful. The direction is particularly poor. Combine this with the ragged editing and you have a real mess. People who didn't see the first movie might be lost. On the other hand, it might help to not be familiar with those earlier fine films.

The basic problem with this movie is that it is stupidly written. The plot is pretty unbelievable to begin with, and it includes elements that are ludicrous. One of the strengths of the first two movies was that it was believable. GIII is as close to reality as PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED was.

My complaints with this movie are many and varied, but they center around the scripting for and acting of the character of Michael Corleone. In the first two movies, Puzo, Coppola and Pacino created a tragic figure. In the third movie, he's just an old man in decline. In the first two movies, you could both sympathize with and be afraid of Michael. In the third, it's hard to do either. Pacino has the same dour, frozen expression for about two-thirds of this movie. When he finally smiles, you expect his face to break.

I'd hoped initial rumors about the acting ability of Sofia Coppola might have been off base. They weren't. In the words of another reviewer about another actress, "She runs the gamut of emotion from A to B." I like that she didn't look like an actress, but, other than that, an exhausted Winona Ryder still would have acted circles around this young woman. Maybe Coppola will grow into being a fine actress---women like Sally Field, Jessica Lange and Farrah Fawcett didn't act in their first few movies either, and they've improved dramatically.

Other than the sets, what can I praise about this movie? Not much. Andy Garcia and Talia Shire turn in the best performances of the movie. Diane Keaton was better than she was in GII.

     In short, don't rush off to see this movie.  It's not filmed in
such a way that it will loose a thing on video.
Spoiler alert!
     OK, don't say I didn't warn you....

GI moved from being about Don Vito to being about Michael. It was subtle at times about the way power corrupts people, and sometimes it hit you over the head with it. Part of the power in GI and GII was watching the payoff at the end of each movie. In GI, Michael becomes the Godfather, literary and figuratively. In GII, Michael has become hollow and corrupt. In GIII, Michael strives for redemption, and it's clear he doesn't get it, even though he long outlives his enemies.

The opera scene, and the shoot-out on the steps afterwards were both way too long. It would have been a stronger movie to find out what happened to Vinnie after the shoot-out. During the last third of the film, it's hinted that Vinnie is double-crossing Michael. We don't know if this is the case or not. This was too important a point to drop.

I'd guess about a third of the audience (and the theater was pretty full) was moved by the ending, but most of us got out of our seats and left in a hurry. No one applauded. Arrgghhh...I haven't been this disappointed by a movie in a very long time. Coppola should have stopped while he was ahead (yes, I know he made the movie in return for a picture deal from Paramount...).

***      Laurie Mann ** lmann@jjmhome.UUCP **        ***
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