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I recently watched all three Godfather films again in sequence and was surprised at how bad GF III is when closely compared to the other two fims. There are characters in the film whose presence is never made clear (i.e. George Hamilton, Brigette Fonda and Don Novello - Father Guido Sarducci??) The major characters bear little resemblance to themselves from the previous films. Connie Corleone is now a major supporter of Michael even though she knows he had her husband killed? Michael now has a change of heart and tries to go "legit" even though he so eagerly immersed himself into the power and control of the Corleone family. And Kay continues to "hang around" even though she dreads Michael and all that he stands for. Why?? The movie drags on in parts and never really gains it's true identity untill the end of the film during the opera scene. Not even Winona Ryder who was scheduled to be cast in the part of Mary could have helped. It only serves to give us an appetite for the earlier two films. Both of which I consider masterpieces.
This is my third time watching GF3, with about 8-9 years between each viewing. I probably won't watch it again. It's not just that it pales in comparison to the first two movies. Watching it now, completely separated from its predecessors, makes that clear. In fact, for a while I was thinking "eh, this isn't so bad". But it really is. Slow and boring, with a complicated web of Vatican blah blah that is too hard to follow, and yet all the major emotional themes are presented in a wretchedly blunt fashion. Everyone pretty much blurts out exactly what they're feeling. I think Eli Wallach and Talia Shire might be the only decent performances in the movie. And speaking of performances... you know where I'm going with this. Sofia Coppola has taken a lot of crap for her role in this film (and Francis for casting her), and deserves every bit of it. She's awful, awful, awful. There are a few lyrical sequences and intriguing elements, but overall it's a dull, muddled, heavy-handed mess.
Any series of movies, no matter how excellent it's beginnings, can
easily descend into mediocre sequel hell. This is even the case when
many of the original cast and crew members remain the same. The first
Godfather movie was an exemplary classic, the second a little weaker
but still largely deserving of the honours it received. Their director
Francis Ford Coppola became a respected and influential man about
Hollywood, although he was never quite able to recapture that success.
It was almost inevitable that, after a series of disappointing features
in the 1980s, he would begin flogging dead horses' heads again.
Al Pacino's 80s career had been somewhat paltry as well. Not that he lost his touch - there just simply hadn't been the right roles available to him. And sadly a return to the character he portrayed in two of his finest performances isn't the much-needed booster one might expect. Aged up somewhat, he piles on the weary, decrepit mannerisms just a little too thickly. It basically looks as if Michael Corleone has got a bit of a bad back, and sounds like he has a cough. Fortunately his younger co-stars are a little more up to the game. Andy Garcia plays a hot-headed mafia scion with a degree of subtlety not normally seen in such parts. Sofia Coppola, the directors daughter, received a lot of bad press for her performance (including a Razzie), but she is really not that bad.
And her father is still showing all his usual prowess as a director. Those early scenes after the award ceremony show Coppola's superb handling of mood and rhythm. His camera typically hangs back from the action a passive observer. There are few movements or close-ups and the editing all soft cuts from one similar shot to another. Even business within the frame is fairly restrained, carefully orchestrated bits of movement, no character too animated. Eventually it becomes apparent that the whole thing is set to the languid pace of the aging Pacino. Compare this to scenes where Andy Garcia is in control, in which the action is far more jumpy, the dialogue snapped out and the players closer to the camera. The rhythmic control is carried through in the neat sequencing of events to the music of Cavalleria Rusticana and the final revenge sequence, which is almost as good as the one in The Godfather, even if it is no longer original.
And a lack of originality is really what brings this movie down. Coppola's motivation for re-opening the Godfather series - supposedly he felt Michael Corleone hadn't suffered enough - is itself rather a dubious reason to make a motion picture. The Godfather Part III doesn't really make much sense if you aren't familiar with the previous instalments, and is filled with blunt references to the original that don't really add much except nod to fans of the series. This even carries as far as the shot compositions and staging. For example Pacino's meeting with the corrupt cardinal is an obvious redoing of The Godfather's famous opening. It seems Coppola and his co-writer Mario Puzo were so intent on working in this sort of business, they forgot to put in the intriguing plot and strong characterisation that made the originals what they are. And by sacrificing his real-life daughter in the role of Mary Corleone it even looks as if Coppola is trying to make some dreary statement about his "art". Coppola's formal style may be modest and tasteful, but his symbolic point-making isn't.
It all isn't quite good enough to considering this movie a true
classic, especially when you compare this one to its previous two
predecessors. Out of the Godfather-trilogy this movie is also
definitely the least great one but that of course really does not mean
that this is a bad movie. Far from it of course really.
I still see "The Godfather: Part III" as a great movie to end the saga. It ties up the loose ends and shows how the characters from the first two movies end up eventually, in the more modern world and age of the late '70's.
It's quite amazing that this movie got made 14 years after the previous Godfather movie but it still manages to maintain the same type of atmosphere and overall cinematic style, even when this movie is set in an entirely different time frame as well, as from the previous two movies. I think that's also way there is simply no way hating this movie when you've already loved watching the previous two movies, even though when this still remains a much hated and criticized movie, which just seems to be simply because of the fact that this movie isn't quite as good as the previous two masterpieces out of the series.
It was also great to see that after 14 years basically every actor was willing to reprise his role again from the previous- or the first two movies. Even persons who played some very small roles return in this movie again, except for Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, who was demanding too much to reprise his role again. His character is being replaced by a new one, played by George Hamilton. Hamilton is of course not the only new big name in this movie. Andy Garcia, Joe Mantegna and Eli Wallach are all some welcomed new additions to the cast. Garcia even earned his, so far, only Oscar nomination for his role in this movie. And yes well about Sofia Coppola. She simply is no actress and there should had been no way that she should had been in this movie but her character and her plot line with the Garcia character all play a fairly small part, considering that the story is build up out of many different story lines, which all brilliantly come together in the final sequence.
"The Godfather: Part III" is well written and it has a great main premise of the Corleone family trying to legitimize their business. But just when they thought they were out, they get pulled back right in, when different characters from different corners try to take advantage of the situation, business and money-wise. Perhaps it's due to the fact that this is the first Godfather movie that is not being based on a Mario Puzo novel but I feel that out of the three Godfather movies the story in this one works out the best, from a cinematic perspective. It's definitely really a movie written for the screen, which had still Mario Puzo involved as the writer of the screenplay, along with the director Francis Ford Coppola.
Just like the previous the previous two movies, this movie as well as some great memorable sequences in it, which not in the least are due thanks to the great acting in the movie. It's a movie that got nominated for 7 Oscar's, including best picture, but eventually it won none. It was up against movies like "Dances with Wolves", "Goodfellas", "Ghost" and "Awekenings" that year, so it's no big shame that it won none. It at least says nothing about the great qualities of this movie.
A great fitting movie to end the Godfather trilogy.
The third chapter in this everlasting series of films is certainly the
saddest of the trilogy, because as well as being an impression of
characterizations and events from mob history, such as mob-related
conspiracy behind the death of Pope John Paul I and Joey Zasa (played
entertainingly by Joe Mantegna) being a creatively ironic amalgam of
two real-life gangsters who hated each other, it is also a study of
Michael Corleone, now a middle-aged man who did not foresee such regret
and remorse for his ruthless conquests in the previous films. In his
attempts to use the wealth and power he has gained from those bloody
triumphs, he tries to cleanse his family name, under the quietly
desperate delusion that it is not an exercise in futility. For if it
were not, there would be no opposition for his extensive criminal
history to the landmark international real estate deal he works to
seal. Nor would his old New York partners want in on the deal, an
affair that tips the first domino in a succession of violence,
betrayal, and scandal amongst the highest of statuses (stati?).
Though there was great reluctance from Coppola to make a third installment, which was greenlit for the sake of understandably anticipated box office returns, it becomes an important part of the story of the Corleone family, even if it does not measure up to its two immortal predecessors. We see the modern effects of the conservation of the preceding generations. Michael suffers for his father's legacy, and Michael's stubbornness to preserve his own, though it has grown weather-beaten by the time during which the film takes place, has created a barrier of communication between himself and his wife and children, a classic senior having planned a much different future than he's received. Even Talia Shire's character, Connie, Michael's sister, is a completely different person in this movie than she was in the last. It is not a poor characterization but a very realistic one, as a woman from that generation who has resigned herself to the life into which she was born. There is no mention from her of Michael's order of her husband's death, for instance. She is not the meek, vulnerable soul she was before but astonishingly transformed into a highly competent adviser to her brother.
However, even despite Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana being a cherry on top of the most beautiful musical theme in the history of film, the movie is inarguably the weakest of the three Godfather films. There is hardly a way of defending the idea that it surpasses or even equals its predecessors, which in the case of both had such a distinctly powerful touch not only at the helm but in the case of all departments. Here, the dialogue is weak with typical final-chapter-in-American-trilogy visibly scripted wisdom. I also have a hard time understanding why Andy Garcia, a Cuban, was cast as an Italian when so many hot-blooded young Italian actors could have played that role just as well as he did. Those are flaws some can accept and others have a difficult time accepting, and one cannot complain directly about Garcia's performance. (Besides, his father Sonny was played by James Caan and his grandfather by Marlon Brando, neither of whom are Italian.) The inextricable misnomer is one of the most well-known in contemporary cinema history, the casting of Sofia Coppola as Mary, Michael's daughter. I will not plunge into criticism because I know the poor girl suffered quite enough at the time, what with the Razzie awards, countless notices, and other such humiliating things. I am glad she was able to redeem herself by becoming a director like her father, a completely different style all her own, not plainly influenced by Francis, an unaffected subtlety as opposed to his inherent need to outdo himself, which brings me to another thought on this film's weakness.
The Godfather Part III, now that I've rewatched it as a grown person and refreshed my memory and understanding of it, has supplied me with a theory as to the striking inconsistency in Coppola's filmography. In the 1970s, he made the first two Godfathers and Apocalypse Now, showered with giant personal, political, and artistic obstacles that in some cases almost literally destroyed him. The Conversation was made entirely from scratch. These films are his great works. After Apocalypse Now, the quality of his films took a major nosedive and even now, as he has recently returned to the director's chair with Youth Without Youth, he cannot seem to regain his aim. Godfather III is very telling. In comparison to the danger, conflicts and drama throughout the first two productions, Part III was a walk in the park. He had to fight for those films and that passion is what made them so incredible. Part III was handed to him, and because it was the other way around entirely, he had a hard time committing to the project, thus the film is clearly made with much less ardor and feeling, though the set design and atmosphere are still not one ounce short of top-notch. Coppola must run on frantic drama, frustration, violence and seemingly nothing else to make a great film. However, considering the relatively peaceful circumstances of Part III's production, he succeeded to a good extent.
This movie is somewhat an enigma to me. Theoretically, Copolla had the tools to make this a great film but instead, he messed up big time. The plot has potential, but the screenplay is not well constructed. It just keeps treading water without really giving the viewer a sense of narrative development. The directing isn't anywhere as good as it was in the first two films. The cast, aside from Al Pacino is not the way it should be. If they had a chance to bring in somebody like Robert Duval to play Tom Hagen why didn't they do it? Normally I wouldn't care, but if you can't make a proper third installment for a series as powerful and as cinematically significant as the godfather, it's better not to make it at all. The only reason I gave it a 5 and not less is because I still like seeing Al Pacino, but that's about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I recently saw The Godfather Trilogy back-to-back for the umpteenth
time in years. Mostly everyone agrees that parts I and II are a couple
of the best films ever made, but part III always gets dumped on. Why?
With the exception of Robert Duvall's absence (watching it, you get the
sense that something is missing, it's Duvall), Sofia Coppola's acting
(she is a far better director) and George Hamilton looking like he took
a wrong turn and got lost going to the tanning salon (what the eff was
he doing in this film?), this is actually a great film that happens to
be an emotional conclusion to the Godfather epic.
The Godfather films are about Michael Corleone. They show us the evolution of his character, and by part III Michael is full of regret for all of the sins he has committed over the years that were covered in parts I and II. With Al Pacino's excellent performance, you feel sorry for him as he suffers over what he did to his brother Fredo, then how he desperately tries to salvage anything he can with Kay, and watching him trying to rebuild a relationship with his son, who wants no part of the family business.
The critics crapped on The Godfather Part III and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. Watch it with the other two films. It's not in the same league as the first two, but it's a great film nevertheless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's funny how some personal circumstances are the key elements that
influence our judgment. In my case, "The Godfather Part III", was not
the last opus of a magnificent saga, but the first film I watched from
the trilogy, my first encounter with the Corleone Family, a cinematic
love story that would never end.
Speaking of love, I always wondered how a movie like "The Godfather Part III" had crystallized so much hatred and disdain. The unforgettable "Never hate your enemies, because it clouds your judgment" is like a self-defense cry, from a film that wanted so much to be respected like its glorious predecessors, but apparently failed to, for even the fans will always concede after they say how the movie is great "but not as great as the two others"
So, as a fourteen-year old kid, I loved "The Godfather Part III", I couldn't complain about the absence of Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen. I wasn't mature enough to judge Sofia Coppola's acting abilities though I found something physically odd in her. From Michael's relationship with Kay to his haircut, "Part III" was my reference. And I guess I loved the movie for what it was: a great story with an unforgettable climax.
Till now, I can't watch the ending, even the clip, without crying, it broke my heart the first time, and it always does, even after so many viewings. It was like I felt the devastation of a man whose life's only meaning was incarnated by his children, his only inspiration in his quest of redemption. And it's ironically the very part that kind of redeems the film, even for the non fans. The others deserving to be mentioned are Michael Corleone's sadness while hearing the 'Brucia La Terra' song played by his son, and his heart-breaking confession of Fredo's murder
The film is about the redemption of a man who sinned so many times. Many would argue that his sins were necessary because they were the only ways to maintain the interests of his family, but hell is paved with many good intentions, and the way Michael ended at "The Godfather Part II", a ruthless cold-blooded zombie-like figure was demanding a sequel. The last shot of him, sitting alone in the park plunged viewers in a lot of interrogations and interpretations. What was he thinking? Probably, how he got in such a situation, and how this would end. And it's like Coppola, tortured by his own demons, felt there was more to do with Michael Corleone.
And the character's arc was concluded, with nothing I would reproach in Michael's portrayal, he's tired, sick as he had carried the weight of a lifelong guilt that ravaged his soul. He may be too pathetic, too different from the Michael we know,his use of profanity was quite out-of character, but who knows how killing his own brother could affect someone. Michael is still respected and feared, but is more melancholic, explaining how the movie needed to be driven by more active supporting characters. And after I finally watched the two other films, one year later my opinions were mixed.
First, I was fascinated by the sight of young War hero, Michael Corleone, in Connie's wedding, it was so contrasting with the pitiful diabetic Mike of the third opus, watching Part I was an extraordinary discovery, a refreshing experience. Besides, the gallery of new characters, Sonny, Tom, Clemenza, Tessio, enriched the film and made it even more entertaining, Part II confirmed my fascination. And step by step, when I started to watch the first two a little more and while I was sharing my opinions on the Net and learning about Part III's reputation, flaws were becoming more visible: Sofia, Duvall's absence and replacement by that Hamilton guy who was certainly not to Hagen what Pentangelli was to Clemenza, the helicopter scene etc. And the reading of the book made me wonder why they chose as the successor, Sonny's illegitimate son.
But if the film could have been better, it also could have been worse. And when I watch it, I'm more generous, as I see the tragic ending of one of the most fascinating character's story, a man who's always been "pulled back in". The movie respects the spirit of Part I, with a succession on the Corleone's throne, true historical events as back-stories, and so many unforgettable lines. In fact, we can make a parallel between the trilogy and the Corleone brothers:
- The Godfather is like Sonny : fierce, brutal, yet tender and good-hearted, it's entertaining and deep in the same time. And we all just love 'Sonny' ...
- The Godfather Part II is Michael : deeper, darker, smoother, yes, even 'boring' sometimes, but it's more implacable and ruthless ... we can't love it with the same intensity as the first opus, but we respect the cinematic achievement, and it leaves us with an extraordinary feeling. It's not the most entertaining, but certainly the most fascinating.
And of course ...
- The Godfather Part III is Fredo : it tries too much, it has a good heart but it's weak and even sometimes 'stupid' but hey, it's still a blood brother of the first two films, we still feel Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola's touch and it features some heartbreaking moments, like Michael's silent scream that will haunt me forever. Some magnetism was lacking from the very start, but can we really hate 'Fredo'?
I'm sure those who prefer the first film also appreciate the last one and those who love the second film and think it's the best one, identify so much with Michael that they hate "Part III", with the same intensity and severity Michael expressed towards Fredo. They don't forgive any mistake ... and consider the last film a disgrace for the trilogy, and symbolically disown it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To be honest the only reason i watched the final part was because i bought the DVD box-set,if i were to buy the individuals i would have stopped after part 2, as I've heard the hype and apparently its generally accepted that the first 2 are brilliant and this basically ties up loose ends. In truth it does that, but in a memorable way, Al Pacino is astonishing, it is truly tragic how the character just disintegrates from this youthful prodigy into this withered and battered old man, whose soul is in constant torment. I do feel that this is the best of the three, but that doesn't disregard the other two, they were influential, but i do feel that is a shame that this isn't spoken about in the same way. I have never really been a fan of gangster films, i feel there samely and overrated, but i do respect the quality of the first two, but this final part i feel is truly remarkable, and every time you watch it it gets better. The psychology of the characters is so well played and the ending, is similar to the first two with its killing montage but it plays on your emotion so much more, and it may sound a little "girly", but I've always felt that is the point of cinema, to play on ones emotions and i feel this film does it perfectly, so in short, and this may to many be controversial, but i feel this film is head and shoulders above the first two and to not be in the top 250 is a shame.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I see that many people have posted comments admitting their dislike of
this film, with the most common reason being the manner in which it
derives from the former two. I too agree in part with this statement,
for the story does differ in the way it is told, but I feel that this
is for the better. In the previous two films, whilst fantastic in their
storyline too, they were exactly that; a story being told to us, where
we merely observe the series of events and part of the manipulation and
thought process that goes into creating them. There is no deep
emotional connection between audience and character, where sure, on
occasion we may feel sorry for a character, but it is short lived, and
in reality, we are not that deeply engaged, because our attention is
stretched and focused upon the complexity of these events. The third
Godfather admittedly strays from this; however I would argue that this
is for the better, for that connection between character and audience
is so much stronger, and if you are seriously watching it, you can do
no more that empathise and feel for Michael, and the pain his life has
caused to both him and the others around him. Yes, in part, the story
is a little clichéd, and a little thinner, but this is not at the loss
of the film, it merely changes the nature of the film, from one of
action and thought, to one of an emotional exploration of the character
of Michael Corleone. Furthermore, to the argument that it strays too
far from the original two, overall, it does in fact fit in with the
general story. It is a story about Michael's going legitimate, a goal
that he has outlined and carried right from the earliest scenes of
Connie's wedding, where he courts Kay. I ask, to close such a trilogy,
where else should one go with the story? It needed closure, and this
film achieves it.
I must further advocate the brilliance of the final scenes, in the montage of Michael's life, and death. I feel that these are the most powerful scenes of the entire trilogy, for they encapsulate the meaning of the story; 'that crime is wrong doesn't pay'. Although subtle in the first two films, it can be seen through the paradoxical transformation of Michael as a character, where he commits crime for good, not evil. His nobility in going into the criminal business, is maintained by his motivations, first in protecting his family, and secondly, in turning his family away from crime, into the legitimate world. In the final scenes of the third movie, the power shows where we can do nothing but feel for Michael, for he is a martyr. He does the right thing, in trying to protect and save his family, and yet, as shown in the montage, of his loss of Appolina, Kay, his daughter, his brothers, and nearly his father, crime, the one thing he has been forced into to do good, has cost him everything he has ever held dear to him. This price he has paid is further accentuated by his modest, sad and lonely death, where, despite being in Sicily, the country he loves, he is alone, and dies without any grandeur - which I guess in part is also symbolic of his character's nature; modest and quiet - I understand that this is somewhat open to interpretation, however, I myself, have not yet seen a scene or moment of such power and meaning in either of the two previous films, and I challenge those who argue that the third Godfather is a poor film compared to the other two, to find me a moment of such concentrated greatness and gravity, because not only do these final scenes encapsulate the entire meaning, motivation, and central idea of the Godfather trilogy, the clever writing of this scene also changes the entire contextual nature of this 9 hour journey, from one where we believe that we, as the audience are sitting in the present, watching the turn of events as they occur, to one where we realise that we were actually witnessing and privy to Michael's reminiscence, of his life, crime, what it has cost him, and subsequently the cruelty of the world before him. Again, I understand that this is somewhat opinion based, however, I feel that this shows the true value and power of the film, where it, in effect, despite being about 9 hours into the story, the scene actually changes the entire meaning of all that precedes it (i.e. both the Godfather part 1 and 2). To reiterate my point, I would argue that the third godfather is just as great if not greater than the former two, the only thing is that it is written differently, so that the greatness of it, is aimed at a more academic, and inquisitive audience, rather than the general populus, because lets face it, as fantastic as the movies are, the storyline of 1 and 2 is nothing overly spectacular; and it primarily gains its status as a 'modern classic' from the performances within it. This is because at least in my eyes, there is no underlying theme, or hidden message or motif; it is just a straightforward story, (and there is nothing wrong with that), but the third does have a little more of this intellectuality behind it, and so for the audiences that are, shall we say more accustomed to the simplistic structure, they find themselves unable to be stimulated by the subverted themes, thus I argue that the third Godfather is worth a 10, if not something very close to it, because it is an excellent Godfather movie, just in a different way.
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