Published May 13, 2014It's no secret that The Godfather: Part III is universally scorned as the weakest film in the trilogy. Al Pacino returns as the aging mobster Michael Corleone, but only in name. Pacino delivered chilling yet understated performances in the first two Godfathers, but overacts here, his hoarse delivery and brush cut flirting with self-parody. Robert Duvall's Tom Hagen is sorely missing. His rational presence would have challenged Michael's vengeful drives.
Instead, Talia Shire as Connie, Michael's sister, has a much stronger presence in this film. Shire is completely convincing as the Lady Macbeth character, but nothing can save Sofia Coppola as Michael's daughter. Ms. Coppola is a superb writer and filmmaker, but no actress, prompting cringes whenever she appears on-screen. Although, to be fair, her father basically forced her into this role when Winona Ryder dropped out for health reasons at the last second.
But The Godfather: Part III is not the disaster that so many claim it to be. Some elements work and make the film watchable despite its flaws. The central premise of the Corleones getting tied into Vatican corruption, a mafia unto itself, is bold and intriguing. Furthermore, it's touching that Michael tries to make amends with his ex-wife Kay (Diane Keaton) and son who want nothing to do with him. It's fascinating to see a powerful gangster like Michael entering the autumn of his life and wrestling with regret. Also, the climax of the film (apart from the very end) is masterfully shot and edited to a level that rivals the previous Godfathers.
It's puzzling that the final instalment in the Godfather saga is now getting a standalone release after appearing in two previous DVD/Blu-ray box sets. True, the picture and sound quality are excellent on this release, but the Coppola commentary is the same one found on the 2008 Restoration Giftset. There's nothing new here.