An Focal’s First Take Club #7 – The Godfather Part 3

By James Roulston Mooney Nov 21, 2019

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather: Part III’ is seen by many as the most disappointing of all time.

With my recent Godfather binge, I was worried about this film, as I knew of the widespread disappointment felt among fans of the previous two films, deemed by the masses to be some of the best cinematic works in history.

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Al Pacino, starting to approaching the “screaming” stage of his career that peaks with Heat.

Due to me expecting disappointment, I wasn’t disappointed, but that doesn’t mean it was good.

‘The Godfather: Part III’ revolves around Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) finishing up the family businesses transition to legitimacy. However, when his nephew (Andy García) involves him in a personal problem, Michael gets pulled back into the world of crime one more time.

What follows is an overstretched film that cannot compare to the brilliance of Part II, let alone the masterpiece that is the original.

Pacino does his best to keep the film afloat, along with some noticeable faces playing their characters well, but one terrible acting performance from Sofia Coppola destroys any chances of salvation for the movie.

Her infamous character, Mary Corleone, is up there as one of the most annoying characters in the history of film.

Her wooden delivery of each line seeps any drop of emotion out of each line, not that the writing is something to praise either.

Incidentally, Winona Ryder was cast in the role of Mary but had to drop out due to illness, so Sofia Coppola was drafted in last minute, to comical results.

The relationship between Mary and Michael’s nephew, Vincent, is the most cringe-inducing parts of the film story.

Not only does it make you cringe due to the incestuous nature of the relationship, the writing for the sub-plot is awful and leads to more cringe-inducing moments.

Sofia Coppola’s terrible delivery can lead to bouts of laughter and the ridiculous nature of the relationship, can cause further laughter.

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The subpar writing came as a huge shock, seeing as Puzo and Coppola combined so well to write the first two films.

It wasn’t horrible, excluding the cringy love story, but it was nowhere near the quality of the writing in the first two.

Having Joey Zasa’s murder occur halfway through in the 162 minute film leaves a lot of time in the film feeling very unnecessary.

After this moment, a lot of scenes would tend to drag, with the pace being too slow for me to be able to keep my interest in the plot.

By the end of the film, I wasn’t in any way invested and was waiting for the credits to roll.

Then, another writing mishap occurred – the ending.

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At the end, we expect Michael to be killed, completing his arc. In a subversion of our expectations, the assassin that has been chasing Michael for the full third act shoots at him, only wounding him but killing Mary.

This moment was intended to tug at our heartstrings but we feel nothing. Mary was not written or played well enough to warrant an attachment from an audience and so we feel nothing, feeling perhaps slight sadness when we see Michael breaking down.

Michael should have died in that scene, however, not Mary, who shouldn’t have been written into such an important role.

Instead, the next scene shows us an old Michael collapsing, alone in his final moments. Coppola and Puzo could have kept the aspect of Michael’s loneliness in if they killed him off at the opera house, but they elected to award what was supposed to be the most emotional scene in the film to the most emotionless character.

What a shame.

To say the film is a bad one is a bit much but it is a bad Godfather film. It’s an average, watchable movie on its own but when put up against the other Godfather films, it doesn’t even come close to warranting a comparison.



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