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The Godfather Part III Review

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Don Corleone (Pacino), now wizened, is feeling shadow of God and attempts to draw the family business out of the pits of immorality. When he is foiled, it is the turn of cousin Vinnie, who shares his father Sonny's hothead, to take over. Michael may let the business go that way, but he is more reluctant when it comes to his daughter.

★★★★★

As a nice little film about a bunch of hoods and their involvement in some complicated conspiracy involving the Vatican, The Godfather Part III works just fine, boasting first-rate performances from its two leading men and displaying enough clever directorial touches to suggest that this Francis Ford Coppola chap is a name to look out for. As the slavishly-awaited sequel to two of the finest films of the last 30 years, however, as the third episode in what may well be the Greatest Movie Story Ever Told, The Godfather Part III is, frankly, a dreadful disappointment.

It is, perhaps, unfair that this new production should be so smothered under the reputation of two films made nearly 20 years ago. By so closely adhering to the exact structure of his previous two instalments, however, and through his liberal employment of flashbacks, Coppola himself seems to beg for the comparisons, making it abundantly clear throughout that what is on offer here is no new departure, but simply part three of that old familiar tale of the familia Corleone. And as such, it simply doesn't work, lacking the strength of narrative, the menace, the sheer epic sweep of all that has gone before.

For about the first 30 minutes, however, everything seems to be very much in order. The familiar strains of Nino Rota's theme music never fail to send a shiver, the introduction of Andy Garcia as the suitably hotheaded bastard son of Sonny is a welcome addition to the ranks, while Pacino, all grey and shrunk, immediately conveys a telling portrait of immense power and obscene wealth, made all the more impressive by its confinement within such a wizened old frame.

The first hint that we may be going slightly off the rails comes with the gathering of the clans and the subsequent Die Hard-style interruption from the skies, a badly-handled set piece more reminiscent of Bond than the beautifully understated brutality of the tollbooth.

From here on, the violence becomes increasingly cartoon, notably Garcia riding a horse through the inevitable street festival, while things go from bad to worse as it gradually becomes all too apparent just how far out of her depth Sofia Coppola really is, floundering helplessly in her vain attempts to convince as both the Garcia love interest and daughter of the Don. By the time the much-vaunted operatic climax comes along, it is hardly surprising that proceedings finally slip into near-farce, as the supposed top assassin in all of Sicily takes a good half-hour and a fair portion of Cavalleria Rusticana to line up his sights. Miss Sofia manages to provoke the giggles amidst such supposed tragedy and all that is left is a basic re-run of your actual Don Corelone coil-shuffling routine to round things off.

Fans of the first two instalments are likely to find The Godfather Part III an unworthy heir to the tradition. First-time voters, meanwhile, will surely wonder what on earth all the fuss was all about.

Fans of the first two instalments are likely to find The Godfather Part III an unworthy heir to the tradition. First-time voters, meanwhile, will surely wonder what on earth all the fuss was all about.