Somehow I thought the second part was considered the best one by most people but I found the first one to be a lot more poetic. The final couple of scenes are brilliant though. In a flashback we see Michael reflecting on times where didn't want to be involved in the family business yet somehow it was his destiny.
I do admire this film, but not with the same passion as I do with the first one. "Part II" takes itself VERY seriously, which gives us a less entertaining and more depressing entry in the series. However, most of what made the original great is still here: strong performances, memorable dialogue, and Gordon Willis' always-astounding camerawork.
It lacks the innovative ideas of its thrilling predecessor and it has a hard time juggling multiple storylines. The Michael-Kay subplot, in particular, is tremendously rushed. But it succeeds in being an immensely powerful character study of a perfectly ruthless killer who was destined to swim alone. It also has one of the bleakest final shots of any movie, in which the self-made man lords over an empire of dust.
Call me crazy but yesterday I watched it for the first time (and on a big screen) and I was kind of disappointed. It's double structure is a major stroke of genius, yet it feels as if Michael's arc sins in over-plotting and recycling lots of elements of the first Godfather. High artistic values: acting is top-notch and Gordon Willis' cinematography is absolutely stunning. (3.5)