Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
After seeing the Godfather twice in the past week I felt ready to watch the sequel. Over the years I've heard that this is one of, if not the best sequel ever made. After seeing it for myself I can conclude that this is one of the best sequels ever made. However, The Godfather part 2 isn't as much a sequel as much as it is a continuation of the first film.
The plot to this film takes place before the original Godfather and after the original. One of the storylines follows Vito Corleone and his rise to power and the other follows Michael Corleone as he takes on the family business. I don't want to go deep into the story because I think that these films are better if you know little to nothing about them. This one genuinely surprised me because of its quality. Most sequels are inferior to the original but some, like the lord of the rings films, get better as they progress. The Godfather Part 2 is a fantastic film that builds on the first. I liked how the character of Michael Corleone changed so much between these two films. In the first film, he was reluctant to joining the family business but in this film he's ruthless and shows no remorse. He is given much more development in this film which adds to the fact that you can side with this character, despite the fact that he does some bad things. Another character that I was surprised by was Michael's brother Fredo Corleone. He wasn't given much development in the first film and acted as a background character. In this film he's given much more screen time and development and becomes one of my favorite characters in the film. If there's a character I relate him
To its Mr. Pink in reservoir dogs. The guys a bit of a rat and does things that aren't in the best intentions of the family. Unlike the first film, he's very complex and made for a interesting character. Another thing I liked about this film was how it incorporated the story of how Vito Andolini became Vito Corleome. These flashback sequences are sprinkled in between the main story and sometimes relate to what's going on in the main story. You see Vito from when he was a small boy in 1901, to him having a family and a business. They develop the character of Vito Corleone even further in this film which gives you some context to his actions in the first film. If I had a problem with this film it's that it's long. It clocks in at just short of 3 and a half hours, but luckily the pacing is very good so it doesn't feel like it. Some scenes can feel like they drag on a bit, but their followed by some really intense scenes. That's also what I like about these two films, they're subtle. While other gangster films like Goodfellas invoke fear with bloody imagery and lots of swearing, the Godfather films turn to dialogue to strike fear and create an intense atmosphere. Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo's script certainly doesn't dissappoint and is just as great as the first film.
The cast does a magnificent job with their performances. Al Pacino is amazing as Michael Corleone, leader of the Corleone crime family. His character changed drastically between these films and his performance definitely shows it. He comes off as more stern and annoyed, rarely showing affection. He does a great job in this film and at adapting to his changing character. Robert De Niro was amazing as a younger Vito Corleone. You see in his performance a resemblance to Brando in the way he moves as well as his voice. De Niro is not as great as Brando, but that's not saying much. Both are great in their own right. One that really surprised me was John Cazale as Fredo Corleone. He does a great job at performing this sly and deceptive character. He still has a soft spot for the family, but is more concerned with himself. It's a shame he wasn't nominated for any awards because he's the one that really deserves it.
The direction by Francis Ford Coppola is great! The film holds up well for 2016, especially on the Blu-Ray remaster. I enjoyed that there were a lot of gorgeous wide shots in this film. All of them looked stunning thanks to the cinematography by Gordon Willis. I'm not sure if this was just me, but the flashback sequences looked a bit different than the rest of the film. I enjoyed this because it had almost a "cozy" feel to it. Needless to say, the direction is fantastic and the film holds up really well 42 years later.
The score by Nino Rota is one of my favorite things about this film. To me it felt more grandiose and epic than the first one. There were more string instruments used which brought a sense of lushness to it. No part felt too intense or too weak and flowed perfectly. The track that played when Vito first arrives at Ellis Island stood out in particular. It made me realize that this is a larger film and the score definitely represents that.
Overall, The Godfather Part 2 is a fantastic film that is not as much a sequel but is a Continuation. If you haven't watched either of the two Godfather films (you know who you are) then get on that immediately!
Isn't there a third one? I bet it's the Bastard of the the bunch.