(On DVD, December 2009) I may not entirely agree with assessments that this sequel is superior to the first film (which seems just a bit more focused that the follow-up), but there’s no denying that the two Godfather films feel inseparable: The first flows into the second one with fewer differences than one would expect, and the second one actually makes the first one feel even better when taken together. Once again, a really young Al Pacino runs the show, although he’s joined (in entirely separate sequences) by an equally-young Robert de Niro. Acting both as a prequel and sequel to the original, this “Part II” creaks at more than 200 minutes: the entire prequel alone could have been spun off in its own film. The Godfather II itself has the feel of a vast epic, with multiple plot lines, grand lavish scenes (including another lengthy party sequence that acts as essential scene-setting), multiple locations, a bit of historical drama and a large cast of characters all headed for destruction. Even then, there’s a lot that simply isn’t shown, and when the film ends, it feels as if it does so a few scenes too soon. It’s the nature of the charm of the films that betrayal and violent death is always somewhere in the assumed background of the character’s action: one wrong answer and goodbye! What may be The Godfather II’s most astonishing achievement is that it actually makes its predecessor even better, by presenting a story with even-bigger implications, digging into the characters and tying off a few grander arcs. This is big, big-scale filmmaking by Francis Ford Coppola, and it’s a bit of a shame we don’t get such movies anymore.