Many people saw this as a showdown between Pacino and DeNiro. DeNiro went for a very understated take on the character, whereas Pacino was already ready to take a bite out of the scenery. I didn't necessarily see DeNiro as a young Godfather. Forget about those punks. The main reason to watch this movie is John Cazale.
Many qualities of the original remain (all the technical aspects, the visuals, soundtrack, acting, etc). My problem with it is that it fails to deliver two fully satisfying narratives. One feels a bit meandering in it's begining (Michael's storyline), while the other feels too short (Vito's). But besides that, this is hig4h quality filmmaking at its finest. I definitely want to rewatch it
Saga continuation that manages to keep up with the bar that was set so high by the original - and it's also expanded from origins to downfall, as a mirror between generational alienations and degradation of values. Which leads to conclusion that brings one of the saddest endings in a movie history, leaving unerasable trace worthy of original's legacy.
Godfather self-evidently resonates with my sentimentalities; it is obvious perfection. In contrast, my appreciation for Godfather II is a lot drier, more technical. It makes sense that Ebert et al. who revisited this movie in later years had a complete turnabout of opinion – I hope in my life that I will not go through the experiences that could make me, too, better able to relate to this work on its emotional terms.
It is a rare treat to find a film sequel which not only manages to keep the momentum of it's predecessor but significantly builds up the overall story while offering a convincing novelty to the narrative. Part II is a more dramatic take discussing family within the Family and giving the trilogy an authentic historical background.
Is there anything left to be said about this film? I suppose I can just reaffirm somethings that have already been said a million times. All of the performances from Al Pacino to Talia Shire are amazing. This is just such a well made film! Coppola out does himself here and if it weren't for The Conversation this would be his best film to date.
Superior to the original film because of the masterful mood and tone in the sequences of Vito Corleone's childhood, adolescence, and young adult years (superbly portrayed with complexity by De Niro). The rest of the film pales in comparison. Coppola achieved his greatest filmmaking (apart from Apocalypse Now) in the story of Vito's life. However, its lasting weakness is that it was not released as a separate film.