The Godfather Part III

So, The Godfather Part III (1990). Like most sequels/prequels made years after their predecessors, GF3 just can't capture that original magic (see also: Star Wars Episodes I-III, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story). There are probably several reasons why the movie just didn't gel, but I think a lot of it had to do with being comfortable about how successful the film will be. By the time Part III was made, The Godfather Part I and Part II were legendary. And there's only so hard you're going to try if you already know whatever you do is going to be seen regardless of quality.

That said, this The Godfather Part III is not a bad movie, per se, I'm just not sure why it was made. It doesn't explore anything that the previous two installments didn't do better, and in the end it just feels like well-done fan fiction. It posits a "what if" scenario that essentially wipes out the resonance of the end of Part II and then tries to recapture it. But we already experienced Michael Corleone's rise and fall--and without the over-the-top plot. I can think of nothing more ham-handed than comparing the Catholic church to a Mafia man trying to look perfectly legitimate. Although it does teach us one valuable lesson: pretty much any time you involve the Vatican in your movie, just go the other way. It's not going to be anything but camp.

And by the end, I was just done. Notes I took toward the end of the film that illustrate what I mean:
  • And didn't the murder intercut with holy ceremonies thing already happen? Sigh.
  • Climax in the opera house??? Whatever.
  • Alone in the chair, again? Oh, no.
Although the beginning scenes are probably the clunkiest. The film takes a while to warm up, and for the family relationships to settle in, but it gets better. Especially with more Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone's bastard son, who starts a relationship with Michael's daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola, refreshingly relaxed in a shrill melodrama). And yeah, they're first cousins, but whatever. At least their storyline is something that didn't completely feel like a rehash of previous installments.

In fact, the highlight of the film comes when Mary comes to visit Vincent at his club, mostly in the form of Andy Garcia ogling. Prepare for gratuitous rolled-up sleeves:

Attractive man cooking.

Out of curiosity, whatever happened to chest hair?

Cooking lessons.

Basically, nothing in The Godfather Part III felt necessary. It's too long and a little outlandish, but it's not awful. It's just not its own movie.

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