If anything, the third part of the Godfather series of films is symbolic of when too many sequels are greenlighted, and consequently, the film is doomed to fail. More often than not, the reason why these films crash and burn are because of major studios acting like Adelphia executives and wanting more money, and in using the previous films’ successes as leverage, they lose sight of things like quality. It’s happened to other trilogies.
And if you put together previous films with th… reputation that the first two Godfather films have, the only question left to answer is whether or not the third film would be a minor or major letdown. Most of the essential players returned, with the exception of Robert Duvall (Duvall said Francis Ford Coppola never really negotiated with him, while Coppola says that Duvall asked for more money, so who knows?), Mario Puzo helped out with another part of the story, so why did this film not live up to the hype?
Well, and this is by no means a slap to Coppola and Puzo, but the story was too nostalgic. A good portion of the film was told with clips from the other movies. While understandable, it didn’t address some of the performances from the cast. Pacino’s performance was pretty good and more subtle than I first remembered, and Andy Garcia’s role as Vincent (Sonny’s bastard child) still stands up after these years too. But Talia Shire as Connie clearly is the evil mastermind behind a lot of the Corleone’s present activities is an underappreciated performance. And in considering the evolution of her character from Part 1 to Part 3, her transformation was a little more gradual, but on par with Michael’s. Shire definitely deserves more praise than she got in this series. Onto the bigger question; did Sofia Coppola as Michael’s daughter Mary REALLY stink up the joint in this film? Well, I think that she’s gotten some unfair slams through the years, considering she had little experience on a movie set aside from watching her Dad direct. I mean, imagine how good you would be when you’re sharing scenes with Al Pacino. Exactly! For her to be a scapegoat as to why Part III wasn’t a good film is a little unfair.
Is this film a satisfying ending to the trilogy? By and large, it is, and the film on its own isn’t that bad. But within the context of the Puzo/Coppola narrative, it’s a step sideways and not one of the most well planned ideas. After releasing the trilogy in a boxed set a couple of years ago, they have finally (along with Part II) released the third film as a standalone DVD for the cinemaphile.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sounds slightly muted, but overall is very clear and sounds effective when it has to. When the action does ramp up, the LFE of the soundtrack picks up the low end, even on the older films. It’s about as good as you could want, and if you want any more, than you’re a snob.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, despite having some minor artifacts, looks razor sharp. It’s a much darker looking film than I remember, but the black levels are spot on and there aren’t any edge enhancements that I found, it’s a very clear, natural picture.
As mentioned earlier, the only extra of any quality is clearly the commentary track with Coppola. Clearly stung by the drubbing that Sofia got, the track’s main purpose seems to be a defense of Sofia by her father, who directed the film. That’s a natural reaction and very understandable, I just wish that it didn’t take up so much of the track. Coppola also vents about how the studio pressured him to get the film done, and explains in detail why Sofia was cast, and the options he had to face. It’s fascinating in how passionate Coppola was and is for the film, but it gets a little repetitive after awhile. There’s also a trailer that’s listed on the DVD, but it’s not readily accessible, unless I’m missing it.
Most of you probably bought the film as part of the boxed set awhile back, and don’t have a reason to buy it now. For those who haven’t, it’s definitely worth renting to see the end of the Corleone family in several different ways, and is part of an unforgettable film experience.
Special Features List
- Director Commentary