Matt The Snapper’s review published on Letterboxd:
The first Godfather saw Michael Corleone’s transition from “ordinary” man to the Don of the mafia. Part II is a continuation of his journey on a downward spiral. He attempts to keep his father’s business alive but the entire 3 hour runtime is dedicated to him losing trust from everyone around him in a lust for power. Al Pacino is just fantastic in this series capturing the calm and rage as the Corleone family business goes down the shitter. All the while, the film cuts back and forth to the early 1910s as we see Robert De Niro perfectly play a young Vito Corleone in his progression from Italian immigrant to the biggest name in the mafia. Now a combination of both prequel and sequel sounds like a terrible idea. But Coppola uses these two stories as a point to the overall narrative starting in the first movie. Godfather Parts 1 and 2 are essentially one movie about the legacy of a family mob. Vito’s flashbacks and the beginning of the first movie show the rise and height of powers. Once Vito becomes old and weak with Michael taking over, everything starts to change. The once powerful empire crumbles around him due to Michael’s real inexperience with the business due to distancing himself from that life in the past. As a result, Michael in the end is left with nothing. I know it’s said that Godfather seems to romanize the mob life, but Part 2 doesn’t. It shows how all the betrayals, poor planning and rough connections can ultimately lead to everybody losing with no winners.
What I’m trying to say in this pretentious paragraph is that Godfather Part II is better than the first and is a masterclass of cinema.