Okay, so we all have those classic, heavily talked about, must-see movies that we just, well, haven’t seen. For me, that was The Godfather trilogy. Well, I’d seen the first one about 10-15 years ago, but for some reason I stopped there. It had nothing to do with me not enjoying the movie, as I did, I just didn’t get to the sequel for some crazy reason (even crazier knowing that it was viewed as one of the best sequels ever made.) So before going in to The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone I decided to jump right back to the beginning and finally watch the entire trilogy the way Francis Ford Coppola meant it to be seen.
Right out of the gate I’ll say that the hate that The Godfather Part III received may or may not have been warranted, as I can see how the subplots and waves of new names and characters could leave the narrative feeling muddied; however, The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone has allowed Coppola to go back and re-edit various scenes, included the film’s beginning and ending, and while I never sat down and watched the original, I did go over it after seeing this new version and I have to say that the changes are for the better and I believe that this release of the film will give the trilogy the stronger conclusion it deserved 30 years ago.
The first things fans of the franchise will notice is that the beginning isn’t actually new, but it’s a scene taken from 40-minutes into the original film. What this does, however, is it changes the pacing and storytelling of the film entirely. It makes Michael’s deal with the church and his desire to truly get his family away from anything criminal clear right from the outset, unlike the start of Part III, which began with Michael getting an award from the church (which has been cut completely) and it’s unclear why this is important. Sure, it may become somewhat clear later on, but it’s so much better getting this information out in the opening scene instead of having to wait 40-minutes to even know what deal Michael is planning with the church.
So now without the award ceremony in the church that’s just slow and turns out, completely pointless, we now go right from Michael’s meeting with Archbishop Gilday to the after-party that follows the church ceremony in the original. So right away we get more information, it sets the tone of the film and we lose five minutes of needlessness that just drags the story along.
This is the case with everything that Coppola has done with his recut of The Godfather Part III, as he still had to work with what was shot and available, but he’s helped clear up the storytelling waters quite a bit by shuffling around various scenes and trimming them where needed. While I know it’s viewed as the least favourite in the trilogy (as often seems to be the case when attempting to close out beloved trilogies) I actually found the film incredibly enjoyable. Michael’s quest for redemption after falling so far by the end of the second film is intriguing and superbly acted by Al Pacino. I do believe it could have gone father, but given that there wasn’t anything but the original cut to work with, The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone really does deliver a much stronger narrative of what Michael is striving to achieve at this later stage in his life.
The ending has also been changed, though it’s not a drastic difference than the first. Well, it’ll depend on how you take it, really. I feel like if this was the way Coppola wanted the original ending to play out, he probably would’ve shot it a bit differently. I actually like the original ending of the film, and this is similar, but somewhat jarring in how quickly Coppola has to cut away to the quote the film now ends on. I think the original ending would’ve worked fine here, even with the quote added on, but that may be up for debate depending on who you talk to. I think it’ll be up to personal preference when it comes down to it.
But that’s just the final 20 seconds of the film, and what isn’t up for debate is the fact that The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is a superior film to The Godfather Part III. Fans of the trilogy likely already own various copies of the film, but I’ll say that this is an easy recommended purchase, and a great gift heading into the holiday season for that Godfather fan who may not think a double-dip is warranted – because it is. This is as close to the way Coppola and co-writer Mario Puzo wanted the third film to be told that we’ll ever see, and it’s a much more powerful film than what was released prior.
Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:
The film looks incredible, with a simply beautiful filmic feel to it thanks to Coppola and his production company working frame by frame from a 4K scan of the original negative to give the movie an equally fresh and restored look to coincide with its newly constructed narrative. Everything looks gorgeous here, with a look that showcases the film as we hit its 30th year anniversary in a way that hasn’t been done for the movie before. Gone are any stains, scratches or dirt that hindered previous releases due to technological restraints.
On the audio side of things, enhancements have been made to the original 5.1 audio mix, delivering a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The score sounds fantastic, the dialogue is clean and clear, and the sound effects all work together fantastically to help bring you into the film instead of ever snapping you out of it.
Unfortunately there aren’t any special features here, outside of a brief 90-second intro by Coppola you can choose to watch. He doesn’t really get into much aside from saying that this is as close to the version of the film that he and Puzo wanted to deliver in the first place, and he’s thankful he got to go back and make it happen the best he could.
Paramount Pictures Presents The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola. Written by: Mario Puza and Francis Ford Coppola. Starring: Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Sophia Coppola, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Donal Donnelly. Running time: 156 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Blu-ray Released: Dec 4, 2020.
Tags: Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, Diane KEaton, Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puza, Sophia Coppola, The Godfather