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Empire's 50 Greatest Movie Sequels | The follow-ups that achieve greatness in their own right

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The Godfather Part II
DIRECTED BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
RELEASED: 1974

Why's it so good? Although we've hopefully given you a whole lot more, this is THE trump card to pull out when having a heated pub debate about great sequels. Two years after The Godfather redefined the mobster movie and swept the Oscars, Francis Ford Coppola was back, without Brando (a late flashback cameo was nixed when the actor demanded more money), but with a story to tell about Michael Corleone's Shakespearean descent from family man to cold-blooded, corrupt monster. The scope is broader, flashing back to the sepia-tinged rise of Vito Corleone (with some no-hoper named Robert De Niro doing his best Brando), and contrasting that with the bleak, blackhearted Michael, who may or may not be a metaphor for America and capitalism.

The Godfather Part II The Godfather Part II
How does it stack up to the original? The two films really should be seen in one sitting, and are majestic achievements in cinema. The first may have more purely memorable movie moments, but there's arguably nothing to rival the impact of the moment when the Machiavellian Michael has his brother Fredo killed. The surface of this water is darker, the depths chillier and less inviting, but they draw you in nonetheless.

Glaring error: The Godfather Part III. If only it had lived up to this example, it would be the greatest trilogy ever instead of the greatest twosome.


GAP BETWEEN SEQUEL AND ORIGINAL: 30 MONTHS


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