A more improved version of the final “Godfather” chapter (aside from Sofia’s bad acting).
“The Godfather Part III” has been polarized by critics and fans, who either considered it a guilty pleasure or a mess compared to Francis Ford Coppola’s other two exceptional films.
One of the biggest issues is Coppola’s daughter Sofia, who couldn’t act as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary. The only reason she was involved is because her father told her to, and she didn’t even want to be an actress to begin with. Given her pathetic performance, it’s perfectly clear. This destroyed her acting career before it even began, but eventually, she proved herself to be a talented filmmaker.
Other conflicts, include its convoluted story, which I barely followed, and I’ve seen the first two movies, and its ending, which takes a wrong turn, and deteriorates in the process.
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, the movie has been re-edited under the name of “The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.” It says its changed the beginning and ending, as well as some other scenes. Before I saw it, I had to see the original cut, so I can compare and contrast.
The time is 1979. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is entering his 60s and has a lot on his plate. His son Tony (Franc D’Ambrosio) refuses to go into the family business to pursue a music career, his ex-wife Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) rebuffs him for his choices (including murdering his brother Sonny), his nephew Vinnie (Andy Garcia)-Sonny’s illegitimate son-joins the business, his diabetes kicks in, and he now has controlling interest of the Vatican Bank and a new enemy named Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna).
Speaking in the original sense, it’s far from a classic on par with the first two “Godfathers,” but it does provide us with the right performances from Pacino, Garcia, and Mantegna, and it does remind us of why we enjoyed those two movies with its Sicilian and American scopes. It has violence, it has dialogue, and it has characters, who have their own ambitions and realities.
A subplot we could do without is the incestuous relationship between Vinnie and Mary. According to her bad acting, it’s clear that she’s too stupid to know that dating your cousin is called “incest.” I’m just glad Michael and Vinnie did something about it, but Mary obviously doesn’t get the message.
Obviously, they couldn’t cut out Sofia Coppola’s character, but they did cut out the ending of the scene when Michael tells her she can’t see Vinnie anymore. That’s an example of the new editing process.
In the new version, they cut back on the opening party scene, and get straight to the point when Michael makes the deal with the Vatican. That’s good, because the original opening wasn’t going anywhere anyway. And they say they’ve changed the ending, but it’s basically the same. They just added a quote.
They also remastered the new version, and it still looks great. I admire the photography of how Michael suffers from a stroke in the kitchen, as well as the Opera sequence. The late cinematographer Gordon Willis has helped make sure those scenes are lit very well, and even without the remastering, you’re still amazed at how Coppola directs the film.
Granted, we still have some issues, but we still watch “The Godfather Part III” for its virtuoso filmmaking style, and how Pacino thrives in each decade as Michael Corleone.
The Original Cut
The 2020 Cut
Now Playing in Theaters and Coming to Blu-Ray and Digital This Tuesday