The Godfather: Part II
There is little I could say negative about The Godfather: Part II. There is also little I could say positive about The Godfather: Part II that hasn't already been said in a much cleaner way than I could ever express. It simply lives up to the hype as a great film. It's not just an American classic, but a classic piece of art. It takes everything that was great (and there are many great things) about The Godfather, and builds upon them, bit by bit over it's epic three and a half hour running time, until the final hour is scene after scene of fantastic payoff.
The cast of The Godfather: Part II is almost frighteningly good. Robert De Niro picks up where Marlon Brando left off and continues to make Vito Corleone into one of the best characters ever seen on film. I may not fully agree with the necessity of the flashback scenes, but he made them worth every second. It really is amazing to see the things De Niro used to be capable of. Same of course goes to Pacino, who is incredible at turning Michael Corleone into a character I hate. I could go on and on mentioning every other actor but special attention should go to John Cazale as Fredo. We simply didn't get enough movies starring him before he died (he "only" made 5 films: The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather: Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter). I don't mean to be "punny" here, but his character broke my heart. The scenes with him and Michael alone were easily my favorite of the entire series so far.
One last thing I want to discuss is the notion that The Godfather: Part II is considered a "superior sequel." Sequels are an odd thing in film. It seems most successful movies that come out now are sequels/remakes/reboots or something with a built in audience such as a film based on a TV show, comic book, or even a line of popular toys for children. Sequels like The Godfather: Part II however are a rare breed in that they feel like an organic continuation of the original. I think of the first two Godfather movies the same way I look at two seasons of a great TV show, like Seasons 3 and 4 of The Wire. Both are amazing on their own but also continue the story forward without rehashing things we've seen before. They transcend the argument of "which is better" and are simply different sections of an amazing story*. That's what real sequels should do. How had I not seen this yet?
Valuable Life Lesson Learned: If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. If you try to teach a boy to fish, you will be killed (and the boy will get no fish).
* I understand The Godfather: Part III doesn't have the same reputation as serving the story but I haven't seen it yet so I'll wait until I do to pass judgement.
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