Friday, 4 December 2020

Film Review: "Mario Puzo's The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone" (2020).

"All the power on earth can't change destiny" in Mario Puzo's The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. This crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Coppola and Mario Puzo. It is the third and final installment in The Godfather trilogy. It is a sequel to The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974). Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of The Godfather: Part III, Coppola brings a definitive new edit and restoration of the final film in his epic Godfather trilogy. Michael Corleone, now in his sixties, seeks to free his family from crime and find a suitable successor to his empire. That successor could be fiery Vincent... but he may also be the spark that turns Michael's hope of business legitimacy into an inferno of mob violence.

After the critical and commercial success of Part II, a third installment was in development. Coppola felt that the first two films had told the complete Corleone saga. However, after the critical and commercial failure of One from the Heart (1982), the dire financial situation compelled him to take up Paramount's offer to make a third installment. He intended Part III to be an epilogue to the first two films. Coppola once admitted that he was still unhappy over the final result because of lack of time to write the script. According to him, he had wanted $6 million for the writer, producer, and director fee and six months to write the script. Instead, the studio gave him only $1 million in fees and only six weeks to work on the script (in order to meet the Christmas 1990 release date). Additionally, Coppola and Puzo preferred the title The Death of Michael Corleone, but Paramount Pictures rejected it. 

In September 2020, for the film's upcoming thirtieth anniversary, it was announced that a recut version of the film titled Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone would have a limited theatrical release on December 4, 2020, followed by digital and Blu-ray releases on December 8. Coppola's recut would include both a new beginning and ending and some re-edited scenes and musical cues. The total runtime of this recut version is hundred and fifty eight minutes compared to the original film's hundred and sixty two minutes. The resulting project reflects Puzo and Coppola’s original intentions of Part III, and delivers, in the words of Coppola, "a more appropriate conclusion to The Godfather and Part II." Coppola said the recut film is the version that he and Puzo had originally envisioned and that it "vindicates" its status in The Godfather trilogy as well as his daughter Sofia's performance.

The film stars Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy García, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton, Sofia Coppola, John Savage and Al Martino. Despite a stellar cast, the performances were a mixed bag, though no fault of the performers who lacked.

Coppola's recut of his final Godfather film is a triumph of a revisitation and breathes new life. While it does not elevated to the quality of its predecessors, this new film makes it finally worthy of the name.

Simon says Mario Puzo's The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone receives:

Also, see my review for Apocalypse Now: Final Cut.

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