The Godfather II (1974)

This blog was launched on July 23, 2013. In that time, I’ve had some fun debates about movies and my ratings. Along the way, I’ve made some friends and lost some viewers at the same time. We all can’t agree on the same thing, and the fact that we can civilly discuss our opinions makes being a critic fun.

I feel like we have come to another fork in the road, and things may change after you finish reading my thoughts on The Godfather II. 

It is tough to sit here and say, “who am I to judge,” but that’s what I love to do. The Godfather II is the third highest-rated movie in IMDb history, clocking in with a 9.0/10 score, only after The Godfather (9.1) and The Shawshank Redemption (9.2). Those are some tough numbers to fill, and I tried and failed. 

I sat down to watch the second installment of The Godfather the other day, and my initial rating was 8/10 a decade ago. Upon a second viewing, I decided to lower my score and hear me out before you leave me hate mail. 

As most people know, this particular film has two storylines going on at the same time. One is the rise of Italian nobody Vito Corleone, played by a young Robert DeNiro. We flip back and forth between the present day and the past as we witness Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) struggle to clean up his family’s image while expanding their empire. 

Now, when we are back in old New York and witness young Vito turn into the Godfather, those were special moments. DeNiro and the cast perform most of their dialogue in Italian, so it is important to follow the subtitles. As crazy as it sounds, watching Vito become his own man and his own boss was one really epic adventure. It started out as nothing initially, but eventually, he built up the nerve to seek revenge for those who mistreat others in the neighbourhood. It was also the first time we witness the famous “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” 

Watching DeNiro perform as he rises to become the greatest Godfather in the city was the best part of this movie. This particular part of history could have had its own film and made a few hundred million all on its own. 

For me, The Godfather II loses some points for throwing in a Senate committee out there busting heads to put a stop to organized crime. Even though Michael is busy in Nevada and Florida, we spent a good portion of the movie in Washington, DC. so he can testify for the committee. We also see a bunch of other members of the mafia testify as well. I understand that cracking down on these organizations was a button topic when The Godfather II took place; however, none of this happened in the first one, making it more special. 

Now, despite what I think, there are a dozen or so iconic moments in this film, including the murder of Fredo Corleone. If there is anything that people take away from this particular film, it’s the lengths Michael would go to protect himself and his family. Fredo maybe his brother, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. 

I’ve never been a big Diane Keaton fan, so to witness her have an abortion and then force Michael to divorce her, well, to me, that was so much unnecessary drama. Yes, all of his personal problems serve the bigger picture (that Michael is now a monster); however, I just didn’t care for it. So when you add her drama and the committee trials together, you get me less interested in the present-day story of The Godfather. 

I wish I could split my score because Vito’s backstory deserves a nine-star rating. Michael’s present-day problem was just too much for me, and I think it made him look weaker overall. He still wins out in the end and is just as powerful as ever, yet I felt the story didn’t carry itself compared to the original. That’s why I lowered my score to a single digit. 7/10

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