Combustible Celluloid
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With: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton, Sofia Coppola
Written by: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 157
Date: 12/08/2020

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (2020)

4 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Unlike most, I always loved The Godfather Part III, mainly because I always did see it as a coda to the first two, rather than a sequel. All of the glories of the original two masterpieces are gone. Instead of a strong son, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) has a bastard nephew, Vincent (Andy Garcia); his own son is an opera singer, and a rather bland character. Instead of a trusted family consigliere, he has a white, suntanned lawyer (George Hamilton). Instead of a tragic, burning romance, we have an awkward flirtation between cousins, Vincent and Michael's daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola).

In any case, the original 1990 film can be a little convoluted, but by making a few brilliant changes, director and co-writer Francis Ford Coppola has narrowed the focus of the film, changed its tone (it's more elegiac), and gets it moving a lot faster. The new opening sequence is now Michael meeting with Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly) to discuss Michael's donating $600 million to the Vatican, in the hopes of opening the doors to becoming a legitimate businessman. This is followed by a party sequence that introduces all the main characters, just as the wedding scene in the first film did. (These scenes originally came much later in the film.) A new ending cuts well before the awkward, slumping-over death from the original, and now Michael's "death" is more symbolic, a fate worse than death, if you will.

To address the other elephant in the room, Sofia's performance, her father can do little to change that. But I always found the furor over her work to be quite overbaked. I agree that it's not the best performance in the world, or even in the film, but I find that her shy, awkwardness works for her character. She's inexperienced and it shows. Sofia never deserved the kind of venom she received. Hopefully The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone will cause people to see the film with new eyes, and re-assess the bad reputation it never deserved. Paramount's Blu-ray release includes a superb audio and video transfer, with no extras other than a filmed introduction by director Coppola, and a digital copy.

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