I had only seen the original Godfather once before I watched it earlier today, but I had never seen The Godfather Part II at all. I can see why some people believe that the movie is one of the greatest sequels ever made.
To be honest, though, I found the original to be my favorite of the two.
The Godfather Part II tells two stories concurrently. One was the ongoing events in the life of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) as he continues his ascension into the position of head of the Corleone crime family. The second story gave us the background of a young Vito Corleone (Robert DeNiro) growing up in Corleone, Italy and how he started moving up the ranks to become the Godfather.
Pacino and DeNiro are at the peak of their skills in this movie as their performances are amazing. The film feels like a continuation of the story started in The Godfather and seamlessly flows on. There are some shocking moments that I could not believe were happening. I am impressed that, despite over 30 years since its release, I had not heard the details of a couple of the story points (in particular, the one dealing with Diane Keaton.
I must say there were two problems I had with the film. It did feel a little long, especially in the first hour or so. The film picked up in the second half as many things happened that I did not see coming.
The second issue is that Michael Corleone has become such an unlikable character that I found it harder to support him as the protagonist. I know the theme is how life choices can be unavoidable and can take someone down a bad path, but he is almost unrecognizable from the first film. While that is a fascinating development for a character, I wanted someone to root for and that was lacking.
However, as a character piece on the development of a villain, The Godfather Part II is harrowing. Al Pacino deserved to have won the Oscar for this performance, though he did not.
I feel like a major gap in my movie viewing has now been filled as I cannot say any more that I have not seen Godfather Part II. I do not plan on watching Godfather Part III any time soon though.