The Godfather Part III (1990)

Director:  Francis Ford Coppola
Cast:  Al PacinoDiane KeatonAndy Garcia, Talia Shire, Eli Wallach
Plot:  In the midst of trying to legitimize his business dealings in 1979 New York and Italy, aging mafia don Michael Corleone seeks to vow for his sins while taking a young protégé under his wing.

Genre:  Crime / Drama

Awards:  Nom. for 7 Oscars - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Original Song.
Runtime:  169min
Rating:  PG

1990 was the year which saw Francis Ford Coppola competitively drew swords with fellow compatriot Martin Scorsese.  The Godfather Part III versus Goodfellas in a fight for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, which was eventually given to Kevin Costner and his romantic western Dances with Wolves.  With Goodfellas, Scorsese taught us how to make a great crime drama.  However, with The Godfather Part III, Coppola demonstrated what it took to turn a great mob tale into something less than ordinary. 

The first two films of the ‘Godfather’ trilogy are recognized masterpieces of cinema. Unfortunately, the third part pales in comparison, even though it remains a solid film. Part III is produced sixteen years after Part II.  Even for a legendary filmmaker like Coppola, it is almost an impossible task to recreate the magic of old, the spirit of the past.  Spielberg also found that out himself when he recently revived the Indiana Jones series after nineteen years with the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. 

If there's any consolation, it would be the consistent performances of Al Pacino, Talia Shire, and Diane Keaton.  While they have visibly aged, they still do remember how to act out their roles as they would if it were two decades ago.  There are two newcomers to the scene, Andy Garcia and Sofia Coppola.  Garcia is still able to nail his role well despite being outclassed by Pacino. S ofia's character is well-written, but she is a dud in acting and has an irritating accent to boot; this is probably another reason Part III does not resonate well with fans. 

Just like Part II, it ends somewhat tragically.  But Part III's narrative structure shares more resemblance to that of Part I - elaborate celebratory parties, the rise of a new successor to the Corleone family, unflinching violence, and a lengthy, well-edited climax. Interestingly, Part III has a more Gothic feel and has a strong religious slant towards Catholicism, and ultimately the virtue of atoning for one’s sins.  The Godfather Part III was no doubt an ambitious project.  Believing he could further expand the story and bring a satisfying conclusion to the epic saga, Coppola tried too hard to make things ticked. Unfortunately, lightning did not strike thrice. 

GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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