EJ Paras’s review published on Letterboxd:
My father's name was Antonio Andolini... and this is for you.
Here it is: the mother of all sequels (and prequels). The movie that some claim to be the best of all-time. I’ve finally watched it, and wow, was it electric.
While this film continues the story of Michael Corleone’s reign as the Don and the ever-growing gambling empire he’s inherited, this film also examines the rise of his father Vito Corleone through flashback, and how a man who’s lost so much at a young age grew to become The Godfather. The contrast of each man’s reign from the top and how they command respect — through love or through fear — is important to the makeup of each Don.
Michael Corleone is a bad man, let me tell ya. Cold. Calculated. Fierce. As he loses his grip on the empire his father built, he promises to not go down without a fight — even if you are blood-related. Al Pacino commands your attention when he graces the screen. His performance as Michael is ferocious and intense, while always captivating. It’s a master at work. The final shot of Michael is tragic but so perfect.
Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone, the iconic role that Marlon Brando created, talk about filling in big shoes! But to no one’s surprise, especially knowing the robust resume that he’s racked up since this film, De Niro was stellar as the Sicilian-speaking, offer-making, revenge-seeking Vito Corleone. Epitomizing the rags-to-riches story, De Niro offers a sympathetic view of a man who’d end up being the boss of the biggest organized crime group in the world. Mamma Mia.
The big blow-out scene between Diane Keaton (who very well may end up being my most-watched actor/actress of 2020 — definitely not complaining) & Al Pacino is just stellar, stellar filmmaking. Kay was kind of off to the sidelines for most of the film, but my lord, what an Act 3 for that character. Diane Keaton — marvelous.
There’s something about the sheer scale of this movie, that I feel like you can only interpret this movie as great, or a masterpiece. All-star acting ensemble, immaculate set pieces, iconic film score, legendary source material… just everything about it screams masterpiece, and while obviously art is subjective, I really do think that this film is the result of many auteurs perfecting their craft.
So yeah… The Godfather: Part II… you knew this was good already. I’m not saying anything new. At least now I feel a little bit less like a fraud when I label myself a “huge movie fan.” Can finally check off this movie from the list, but it was well worth it!
My father taught me many things here - he taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.