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Published January 26th 2013
Don't believe the criticisms
Having never watched The Godfather movies until recently, I was unaware of the giant time gap between Part II and Part III. The third instalment was released in 1990, sixteen years after Part II, so there are startlingly obvious differences and characteristics of the film, some of which, after recent research, a lot of Godfather fans hated.
The film is set in 1979, about 20 years after the time of the second film. Michael's attempts to go legitimate are almost realised, relinquishing ownership of the casinos and investing in a significant church owned corporation, called Immobiliare.
Michael's children, Mary and Anthony, are now in their 20s and making life decisions for themselves. Kay, Michael's former wife, has remarried, nonetheless she is still a prominent part of the family. His sister, Connie, is the only family member that has stayed loyally by Michael's side. She is much more headstrong and commanding in this film swaying important decisions.
As Michael organises the take over of Immobiliare, rival groups are resentful and individuals within the church are unwilling to allow a crime leader to control such a powerful and holy corporation. This results in approval difficulties and ultimately assassination attempts. Michael realises his weariness of the family business and adopts his nephew, Vincent (Andy Garcia), as his "next in line to the throne" so to speak. Meanwhile his daughter, Mary, begins having relations with Vincent, further complicating things.
To me this film as a cinematic experience was much more enjoyable than the second film. I know many film critics will be frothing at the mouth with rage at that statement, but Part III just had better pacing and more of a sense of build and resolution. It starts the same way as the previous two films with a family celebration, this time with Michael receiving some sort of religious award.
Again, we see family members seeking favours from the godfather. The story is modern and feasible; taking the film to Italy is a nice touch that links it to the previous movies. This film to me was like the conclusion that never was in Part II and ties all the prior themes together definitively. The ideas of traditional versus modern, young versus old, legitimate versus criminal, wrong versus right, convention versus change; all were addressed in this film. According to an analysis I found, the first film explored the corruption apparent in the criminal world, Part II dealt with the corruption apparent in the legitimate world, and the final film depicted the corruption apparent in the ecclesiastical world of the church.
The look of this film in terms of lighting and camera work once more is very similar to the other movies, presenting an amazing sense of continuity. Many people have complained about the haircuts and dressing of the characters, but I thought they were subtle and did not distract from the film. I like how all three of the films are not force feeding the viewer the time period. Movies that do that often become very dated. The musical themes are retained too, further solidifying the familiar feeling of foreboding. The action sequences added more realism with its more modern setting and were never sensationalised.
What was lacking from Part III was more of a sense of grandeur and "epic-ness". It was a well-executed film but did come across as more of a stand-alone crime thriller. I did like the opera scene at its climax but I believe some may think it to be a bit too cheesy.
Also some of the acting involved was questionable. I have to agree with everyone that Sofia Coppola's
acting was stiff, forced, emotionless and just plain awful. Andy Garcia was for the most part great and dynamic but his overall character was too erratic. One minute he was restless and bad-tempered the next he was calm and dominating other times he was love struck and mellow. To me he wasn't convincing in his character development. Al Pacino's character of Michael was totally different in all three films. The first he was young and untainted, the second he was ruthless but foolish, in this film he was weathered and tired. I thought he was a strong character but I have read other criticisms to say his role was too divergent. I thought Talia Shire's role as Connie in this film was very intriguing. She was much more dynamic and integral than her former Godfather involvements.
Overall I loved the film. It didn't seem as epic as its predecessors, maybe because it wasn't set over a large time frame (I think the story only spanned a few months, not including the very ending). Some of the acting was not as persuasive as it could've been. I have read that the production time for the film was incredibly rushed and it was purely a cash opportunity by the studios. Nevertheless, the film was a much-needed conclusion to the trilogy, tying up all the loose ends laid bare from Part II. It is undoubtedly a well-made movie and ended superbly. I'd give it a 7.5 out of 10.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Written by Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola.
Starring Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Eli Wallach, Sofia Coppola, Joe Mantegna etc.
Language: English, Italian, German (few words), Latin (few words).