Is it just me... Or Is The Godfather Part II Completely Pointless?

Lampooning that most sacred cinematic cow

Sacred cows don't come beefier than Francis Ford Coppola’s first two Godfather films.

Bête noirs don’t get much more reviled than cash-in sequels that just rehash their predecessors.

Never the twain shall meet, right?

Wrong. In 1972, Coppola surprised the world by emerging from a troubled production with an out-and-out classic.

Even better, The Godfather put bums on seats, and then some.

He got his obligatory movie-brat Antonioni knock-off out of his system with The Conversation and then, received wisdom has it, redefined sequels with his second swing at Corleone family values in 1974.

Thing is, though, he didn’t.

The Godfather Part II, for all its world-class photography, design and acting, epitomises all that is ropey about the very idea of sequels.

They are, in essence, the products of cautious studios trading on an established brand, not an artist with the burning need to retell a story with budget.

Just as much as any straight-to-video parte deux, II just doesn’t need to exist.

For all Pacino’s staring or De Niro’s grimacing or Coppola’s attention to period detail, there is nothing – literally nothing – in the sequel that the most dunderheaded viewer couldn’t surmise from the first film.

But what about the tragedy of Michael Corleone, you say? Coppola’s operatic examination of a good man strangling his own soul?

Yes, Pacino is terrific – but what is there in his three-hour journey to a lonely autumn deckchair that we don’t lot more economically in The Godfather?

It takes a special kind of indulgence to just forget Michael’s murder of his brother-in-law and deceit of his wife and sister in the first film, and then to feel anything other than deja vu as he goes on to murder his brother and – guess what – deceive his wife and sister.

He really doesn’t have far left to fall, but he still manages to do it in quadruple the screentime second time round.

Then there’s the extended flashback scenes that, again, showcase sterling see done a whole work from all concerned, but take eons to trundle through what the first film wisely left implicit.

How much more elegant to leave us to fill in the gaps and top off our speculation about Vito’s immigrant background with the brilliantly written scene where he outlines his hopes for his young son, than to spell out his bloody rise beat by ponderous beat.

De Niro is forced to play the Mafia Anakin Skywalker, trudging toward a foregone conclusion – ironically, Coppola’s pal George Lucas advised him to trim the whole sequence.

Movies with love handles around their running times and numbers in the title are par for the course now – and it’s important to remember the one that supposedly transcends the neverending turd shower of sequels actually set the template all too well.

Bloated by a blank cheque from an auteur-blinded studio, Coppola’s Godfather sequel is the highbrow equivalent of the endless Friday The 13th franchise – lazy, cynical and utterly pointless. Or is
it just me?


Matthew Leyland

What’s so redundant about charting Michael’s Godfatherly career – which is only getting started at the end of Part I – and revealing how much dad did things differently? The parallels are pointed, illuminating and fascinating. How was Coppola ‘cashing in’ when he made a longer, slower, gloomier movie that drains away the original’s residual glamour? Boldly argued, Andrew, but... no.


Jane Crowther


I’m just not interested if there isn’t a severed equine noggin-in-a-bed scene.


What do you think of The Godfather II? Let us know below


    • marc96

      Nov 11th 2012, 12:09

      i can understand why so many people love the film, but to me its always seemed like a movie that you're meant to love rather than actually love.. Goodfellas in my opinion is a much better movie

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    • Jhtsosa

      Nov 11th 2012, 13:05

      I completely agree. I was never a fan of 2. I always felt that it lacked classic moments, unlike the original. And it is super long. And you already know where it is going. It's not a terrible movie by any means, but it's not close to part 1

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    • devilsfoxes

      Nov 11th 2012, 13:07

      if you lock in to Michael's arc, yes he a very similar journey to the first film. But you have to distinguish between his arc and the film's arc. Contextualize. In The Godfather, his so called 'moral downfall' is a thematic 'triumph'. He is not so much condoned by the film at the end than admired or at least appreciated by Coppola. He has become his father. There is harmony once more in the kingdom. His father approved at the end. He had high dreams but seems at peace with Michael's decisions. We are back to square one. However this IS a series where family blood ties ARE more important than in-laws, according to it's own logic. Killing Fredo is not the same as killing his brother-in-law and to think them the same is exactly the same mistake Michael makes. If Michael's arc in 2 is similar to 1 in structure, this implicit meaning you speak of is entirely different. While the first film showed Michael putting father and family first, giving his life for their cause so to speak, 2 shows him drifting from this purpose and becoming a very different man than his father would approve. It is it not about family, justice, or a subjective sociological righteousness (as seen in young Vito's story) it is only about himself, his selfish reasons. Michael and Kay's relationship is the foundation of the films thesis on what went wrong here. Whereas Vito was close enough to his history and home that he had a healthy marriage and basis for making decisions, Michael is a different immigrant, one who has ties to America that conflict and make him drunk with a selfish lack of dedication to family. This is all only apparent in Godfather 2. If we only had The Godfather, we'd think the kingdom is at peace and always will be. But then we wouldn't have the last act of Goodfellas or the The Sopranos, all of which take a page from 2's distinctive trajectory, the fall. If you think the Michael at the end of 1 is basically the same as the one at the end of 2, I'm afraid you've fallen asleep at the wheel.

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    • devilsfoxes

      Nov 11th 2012, 13:10

      forgive grammatical errors. no ability to go back and edit posts.... you get the gist.

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    • shad369

      Nov 11th 2012, 13:33

      Do you not proof read at Total Film?

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    • conorferguson

      Nov 11th 2012, 14:20

      Probably the most pointless and self indulgent piece of writing Total Film has ever published. Ok so you have a different opinion to the majority of people who saw Godfather Part 2, The film is 38 years old, move on.

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    • anant

      Nov 11th 2012, 17:18

      when you comment on something you should take certain things into consideration such as am i worthy of making such a statement? am i qualified or important enough? and many many more. its just you, in each of these stupid pieces its just you, and the answer is simple- you're delusional and stupid, plain stupid. i don't know what you see when you see godfather 2, but you clearly don't have the mental or the emotional depth to understand it. nor do you have the fascination with its characters. if you had you would have never had those questions. this movie depicts the transition of Michael from the righteous, ambitious young man to a ruthless frightening mafia don. godfather 1 had impact full iconic scenes, yes and maybe two didn't have them. (though how you cannot get goosebumps about Fredo's death scenes is mystery to me). in 1 the Corleone's are the good guys, all of them, all the people they kill seems fair and right and heroic, vito is a hero who people turn to get justice, and miceal though respects him doesn't approve of vito nor of his ways, he is that high principled and vito is happy about it. he wants micael to turn out that way, vito chose a life of crime but he didn't want that for his kids, but when miceal comes to his aid, vito doesnt want him to have the life he has had, he wants micael to legalize and legitimize everything, though starting on that path micael never gets there, instead he gets lost in the monster of his. in terms of iconic scenes perhaps godfather 2 is not good as one, maybe it doesn't have the cool the characters of 1 and the "sleeps with the fishes" or "the offer he cannot refuse" or the "Mr Corleone is the kind of man who insists on hearing bad news immediately" but in terms of character study i think its far more superior than 1. its give you an insight into micael and into vito as well. and as 'delivsfoxes' pointed out it laid major foundation for all great gangster films after that. not all gangsters were shown as righteous and noble after that.

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    • anant

      Nov 11th 2012, 17:27

      @ devilsfoxes great piece. you're spot on in commenting about miceal turning into something vito wouldnt have been proud of. vito is the guy who loves his family, his kids and even his community and friends, but not miceal. he is too ambitious to see the flaw in his ways. while vito's godfather title is earned by trust and faith, miceal's is by fear.

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    • andrewrobbins

      Nov 11th 2012, 17:32

      Love how angry some of these comments are. Personally I fell asleep through the first film and I fell asleep through the second. Some people can see things in these films others can't, just don't start being so pretentious about it.

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    • marc96

      Nov 11th 2012, 22:58

      i love how some people are pathetic enough to criticise a persons peronal depth because the dont feel the same way about a film.... @anant you sound like a d****e, why should someone before commenting have to think (am i worthy or qualified?) so many different people love movies, & each of us have different tastes, it doesnt make a persons opinion any less important, my all time favourite film is lord of the rings fellowship of the ring, nut if someone comes out & says its c**p im not a pretentious d****e & could accept that someone might not think the same... doesnt make their views any less important ... sorry rant over lol

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    • Ali1748

      Nov 11th 2012, 23:01

      The second one is my favorite because I love the flashback scenes with DeNiro.

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    • Klaaarke

      Nov 12th 2012, 8:06

      Interesting piece. While watching it after Part 1 a few weeks ago for probably the 10th-15th time, I suddenly came to conclude that Part 2 is a far inferior movie. Not for some of the reasons above but al the Nevada stuff for me was going too far away from the family. Whenever De Niro is on screen we get back that feeling of familial warmth nd aalthough I suspect the contrast was the intention in order to reflect Michael's fall, kind of languishes in the 2nd half a bit. Until this viewing I'd always held Part better for the flashback element and the ambtion.

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    • FBGKennelly

      Nov 12th 2012, 11:14

      in all fairness... it is pretty different to the first one in part one michael killed to protect his father and his family but in part two he is killing just for greed and power even duvall says to pacino ''you won mike they are on the run why do you wanna wipe everybody out ? '' the flashback scenes show us how deniro/brando became the godfather what kinda movie fan wouldnt wanna see that... those flashbacks are very very important

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    • RaveyDaveyGravy

      Nov 12th 2012, 12:55

      Ha ha, people getting so wound up (anant I mean you). I have to agree with the article. While its a beautiful and obviously very good film GF2 isnt as good as GF1 and, heres the main point of the piece, is pointless. Everything you need to ever know is in that final shot of GF1. What Michael has become is all there in that shot rendering both sequels (while enjoyable) simply bolt ons

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    • Ichi1

      Nov 12th 2012, 16:09

      Meh...these articles are just the equivilent of trolling. Let's make a statement designed to p**s people off and then watch the reactions. Pretty lame....but hey, how many times can you keep recylcing the same top 10/25/50 lists?

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    • frankmancaruso

      Nov 12th 2012, 17:56

      There is a version that brought the two stories as one called "The Godfather Saga". This version was so well edited in sequence that it should have been released as a total package. It was originally done for NBC TV and I was disappointed that it never was released. Maybe the film as one would have been too long for theatrical release but perfect for DVD. As one complete story it brings it into the realm of classic. Now the real question should been why was "The Godfather III" ever made and it was pointless.

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    • chrysler

      Nov 12th 2012, 23:23

      TF feature about '50 sequels that were better than the original or at least on par with the original' 'from April 2012. Godfather 2 is number 2 on the list with this zinger of a quote: "Coppola was reticent about returning to the Corleone clan until he had the dual-timeline brainwave. The result is as much a critique as a continuation of the original, expanding the story to mythic proportions." Don't get me wrong I enjoy a good film argument as much as the next guy, but these 'Is it just me...' articles are the lowest common denominator of a film argument and more akin to internet trolling. Do better TF, you used to to publish some meaningful and grounded articles not so long ago.

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    • StevePotter

      Nov 13th 2012, 1:18

      Man, I really need to see these Godfather films. Also, could we have one of these features about Citizen Kane? I feel like that comment section would be DELIGHTFUL.

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    • anant

      Nov 13th 2012, 3:15

      i agree lchi1 these articles are just trolling! more or less all of these is it just me articles are intended to p**s people off! calling alfred hitchcock second, slamming exorcist, calling fantastic four a gem, lord of the rings dull, sunshine the best sci-fi movie of the decade! this is just lazy journalism and standards at total film are getting to an all time low! finally i just snapped, my comments were aimed at the writer who i think tries to portray himself as someone way superior, and not at any random viewer! his is it just me lists are starting to p**s me off big time! he seems like dalidab. though the timothy dalton post was spot on! giving credit were its due!

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    • chrysler

      Nov 13th 2012, 15:50

      @anant. agree 100% (except about the dalton thing, im a connery fan myself so best make that approx 95% in agreement), anyhow, what is more worrying about these articles is that they are written by different people each time. maybe its just a coincidence that these articles have started coming out since dalidab got banned. could it be that the TF website comments dropped a bit and they needed to start trolling, or is it just me (pun intended).

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    • realdavidmahon

      Nov 13th 2012, 18:29

      This is a typical "let's get controversial to get comments" article. GF2 is my favourite film, it transcends the first and brings it into Shakespeare territory. By the way, your grammar needs cleaning up.

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    • NickyC

      Nov 14th 2012, 15:18

      This article reads like a Chris Tookey review. LOL. Be careful not to bate for it's own sake, TF. Although if you wanted to you could do a piece on the Dark Knight. That might crash the entire internet though, but at least it would be a giggle.

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Nov 14th 2012, 17:05

      Trolling on their own website??!! Don't be so fooking ridiculous! This is simply one writer expressing his opinion on a film and opening it up to debate - that's all. Anant - you need to get on the 'Calms' my son and stop being such a c0ck! Personally i've always thought GF1 was a more enjoyable film than GF2 - which is summed up brilliantly by somebody above who says they've 'always felt like they should like it rather than actually like it'. A great way of putting it. There are many films in history that are considered 'Classics' that while are very good films, many people find hard to sit through more than once, or have at least got to be in the mood to sit through - The Deerhunter, Dances With Wolves and Schindlers List come to my mind. Fantastic films, but very dreary, depressing and, some would say boring, films. Just because someone doesn't put films like this at the top of their Top 10, and would instead put films like Goodfellas, Fight Club or Pulp Fiction up there, doesn't mean they're 'clueless' or 'retarded', it's simply a matter of opinion.

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Nov 14th 2012, 17:06

      Oh and my 'opinion' is that Anant is a bellend!

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    • danielrik

      Nov 14th 2012, 19:19

      does anyone have used ?

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