The Godfather: Part III (1990)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Godfather: Part III</strong> (1990)

(On DVD, December 2009) This “Part III” has a bad reputation only when it’s compared to its two classic predecessors.  While it’s pretty good filmmaking, it’s just not up to the standards set by its prequels.  It’s not bad when considered as a straight-up epilogue, but then it runs into the vexing issue of being nearly three hours long, which really isn’t appropriate for the type of story it tries to be in the Godfather universe.  Part of the problem is that by going to Italy and spending a lot of time dealing in Vatican business, The Godfather III gets farther and farther away from the all-American core that made the success of the first two films: The issues get more abstract and diffuse, and the plot seems to over-complexify itself.  There is a noticeable lull near the middle of the film, and all of it contributes to the feeling of an overlong experience.  Acting-wise, it’s Al Pacino and Andy Garcia’s show: Sofia Coppola may be the most attractive performer in the entire trilogy, but her much-derided performance, all mushy-mouthed and indifferent, is another of the reasons why she’s become a far better director than actress.  More happily, though, the film works more often than it doesn’t, and while some elements that made the first film now feel familiar (the opening celebration/introduction scene; the final operatic barrage of violence), it’s handled with a lot of lavish skill by director Francis Ford Coppola.  Conventional wisdom is correct: Not a bad film, but a let-down compared to its lineage.

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