It’s hard to believe the same people behind Godfather and Part II were responsible for Part III. The much-maligned sequel has a number of problems, but none of them are more apparent than how it fits into the trilogy… it doesn’t. This feels like a different film in terms of its style and plotting.
Immediately apparent is the editing, which doesn’t stick with shots anymore. Direction feels modern, and in the 16 years it took for the sequel to happen, Francis Ford Coppola obviously chose not to use the same style. It doesn’t have the static, documentary feel of its predecessors, and the violence now feels as if it were pulled from any generic ‘90s action movie.
Michael Corleone is again played by Al Pacino, but this is not the character viewers were involved with in the previous films. He’s trying to be clean, and is too happy given his history of death and violence. He’s forgiving to his ex-wife who aborted his child without his permission. It’s as if most of his time is spent reminiscing about his life (and better films) in-between his business attempting to purchase a real estate conglomerate. This is hardly the stuff of internal mafia intrigue.
Corleone’s decision to stop all illegal activities takes away the intrigue of viewing the inner-workings of the mafia through these complex characters. It isn’t until later in the film that Part III can gain momentum, and then it’s a convoluted mess dealing with the Vatican, multiple Dons, and the ailing health of Michael Corleone.
Nearly all of the performances take a step back, although probably none are more infamous that Sophia Coppola as Mary Corleone. Her Razzie awards were deserved. Carmine Coppola takes over the music, and also fails. It’s no longer subtle, but loud and obnoxious over the dialogue.
Part III serves as closure to the famous trilogy, and at the very least, lets audiences know the fate of Michael Corleone. Whether or not the information was even needed is debatable. The entire film feels like an unnecessary cash-in, although it is watchable if you’re the type of person who needs to see the waning years of a classic film character.
There’s a drastic step up in detail from Part II to Part III, no doubt due to film elements being preserved better. This is a sharp AVC encode, one that fits with the previous movies. The orange color timing gives flesh tones a bronzed hue, which seemed to work before, yet here comes off as a distraction.
The weaker, somewhat flat blacks were also appropriate previously in terms of setting the era. While intentional, the image here is flat, which causes an otherwise excellent picture to lack the depth it could have. Maybe it’s the quality of the overall product, but using faded blacks makes sense for something set in the ‘40s, helping it look aged. It doesn’t work in the ‘80s. Still, this is an excellently detailed transfer, the best of three films, although not by much considering the quality of the restorations.
As the only film released in an era with surround sound in mind, this one obviously has the most to offer. The helicopter assault is an impressive piece of audio design, including an ominous low-end rumble as the chopper approaches, gunfire loading the sound field, and dialogue still audible above it all. Crowded areas, including parties and the opera finale, nicely push clapping and chatter into all channels. Some light ambiance is evident as birds chirp during outdoor conversations. It’s not a reference quality TrueHD effort, but it does stand out compared to the other films in the set.
Since Part III has not been released individually, the only extra is a commentary from Francis Ford Coppola. Other extras are contained on the fourth disc, which are run down in our Godfather review. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras (Disc 3 only)