Godfather 3 (1990), for the second time in my life (1 and 2 as well)
Godfather 3 (spoilers): I guess I never really paid much attention when I saw all three movies together the last time, about ten years ago, so I kind of saw them all as the same.
But a more recent viewing of all three films with my current film experience, was rather eye opening. My god, how much Godfather 3 sucked. Like, in every single way. And yes, Sofia Coppola was horrible in it, but her not being in it would not have saved this movie.
The plot drags and is rather boring, as Michael tries to take the family a legit route. They do this by giving a lot of money to the Catholic Church, namely the Pope and the church bank? The film tries really hard to show Michael as a man dominated by his dark past, while trying to battle it within, as he struggles to move away from that path. That may sound like a good direction to take the character, but the story really poorly spells out this path and often gets distracted by the new potential family head, Vincent (Andy Garcia) and his love affair with his cousin, Michael’s Daughter, Mary, who seems never capable of giving any lines to any degree of believably (and then you make her scenes primarily with Al Pacino and Andy Garcia, who could act circles around her? Really?)
By this point, Godfather 3 seems rather unnecessary as a sequel, not managing to add a single worthwhile addition to the overall picture pained by the first two films. Its sequences feel too much like just doing the same thing over again. That would be fine if the story weren’t so boring. Strangely, 3 feels formulaic, yet disconnected from the first two.
1 and 2 create a fairly complete picture of 2 generations of Corleone in their rise to power and their struggles as the Godfather. 3 could have been about the downfall of Michael Corleone, showing a man struggling against his nature, but ultimately, succumbing to it, or breaking away in a dramatic fashion. By introducing the Vincent character and focusing so much on him, the film robs Michael Corleone a chance to show his progression. We needed to see his struggle. Other than a couple poorly scripted scenes, this struggle was sadly underdeveloped.
The most we got from Michael was some bullshit scene where he insisted his son complete a law degree first, then his son could do whatever. That was it. Then at the end, he was… accepting of his son becoming a singer? Oook… but Michael never said his son couldn’t be a singer, he only wanted his son to have some kind of back up, just in case the singing thing didn’t work out… like just about any worried parent looking out for their kid… ever?
Instead of developing Michael further, we got more scenes with Mary and Vincent. (sigh)
Vincent: The problem with this character is he doesn’t change. He doesn’t grow or develop. He wants desperately to carry on the family and the movie ends right as he does so. We don’t even get to see what that power does to him… does it corrupt him? Does he go… crazier?
If you go watch 1, we see the progression of Michael Corleone from someone who wants nothing to do with the family to someone who takes control. 2 shows the rise of Vito Corleone, where we see everything that made him who he was, and how he became the man he was in part 1.
The most Vincent ever gets was… some really crappy love story with Mary and the decision to either run the family or carry on with Mary. Was there any doubt, from the moment Vincent appears on screen, that he would choose differently? He never changed in the course of the film.
This left the two leading characters, Michael and Vincent, the same from beginning to end. So… boring story, two leading characters who don’t… go anywhere, as characters, and a focus on a terribly acted love interest?
The final, overly long operatic scene with all the various things happening cut into it, was probably the only thing in this movie worth watching. What the hell happened in the over 2 hours before this? Not a damn thing worth reporting.
Godfather 1 and 2: I’m not really into these films, but I respect them. I understand what works in them. I also appreciate seeing the way the characters grow and advance and the performances. So I didn’t mind rewatching them.
My only complaint comes with part 2, which I think should have been just a prequel. I wanted to see more of Vito’s rise to becoming the Godfather, while Michael Corleone doesn’t really do anything in part 2 except grow more distant. All the ‘present day’ sequences (well, present day as in the sequel parts of the sequel, taking place after part 1) were mostly just reacting to the events of the first film. A lot happens in part 1, yet only the past segments in part 2 was there a lot of progression. Not much of anything happened in the present day.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Anyway, minor complaints aside, yes, Godfather 1 and 2 still have potency, while I now see just how much part 3 fails to re capture that spark. I feel like I just leveled up or something. 😉