Was It Really That Bad? ‘The Godfather, Part III’
Was It Really That Bad? is a column in which movies commonly considered to be “bad” are reexamined with a fresh perspective to determine whether or not the label is truly warranted.
We all have different tastes when it comes to our favorite movies. One person’s Holy Grail may be completely “meh” to someone else. These discrepancies are what make us human. They keep the world interesting and diverse. This is also why debating and discussing movies is so fun and enjoyable. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer; as with all art, movies are open to individual interpretation. However, we’re all familiar with films where the audience’s reception was overwhelmingly negative. This doesn’t just manifest itself in the form of epic box office flops. A movie’s profit margin is not necessarily an indicator of how it was generally perceived (See: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace). For whatever the reason, certain films stick out in the public consciousness as being “bad” or in some cases, just hugely disappointing. It’s interesting to investigate such movies to find out if this perception is actually deserved.
An excellent example of this kind of movie is the much maligned The Godfather, Part III. The two previous films in the series are widely considered to be two of the greatest movies of all time. After a 15 year gap between the second and third films and a production marred by numerous rewrites and extensive recasting, The Godfather, Part III opened on Christmas Day, 1990 to mixed reviews and less than stellar domestic box office returns. Many viewed the film as an utter let down and disappointment. People were expecting something on par with the first two movies, especially considering Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo returned to write the script and with the vast majority of the cast reprising their roles (the major exception being Robert Duvall). Somehow, it didn’t all come together as perfectly as people had hoped.
Reasons for Negative Perception
The plot is not as tight as the previous movies’. Why Michael is so keen on keeping Vincent around is somewhat of a mystery to me. From the moment he steps into his office, it’s clear Sonny’s bastard son has no place in the legitimate world Michael is so desperately trying to assimilate himself into. Michael even mentions he’s tried in the past to help him go straight to no avail. Why give him another chance now when he just bit another man’s ear off at your party? Also, despite Michael wanting to get his family out of the life of crime, he ends up appointing Vincent as the new don and perpetuating the very thing he’s trying to leave behind.
Does Michael really need this business deal to go through? He’s already essentially out of the mafia, and he certainly isn’t strapped for cash. He donates $100 million to charity in the film’s opening moments. He could have just headed to Sicily to think on his sins which is exactly where he ends up at the end of his life anyway. These are all relatively minor grievances, however.
The film’s most glaring flaw and source of the majority of the criticism is the relationship between Vincent (Andy Garcia) and Mary (Sofia Coppola). It just doesn’t make much sense. Why Vincent would even be interested in Mary in the first place is puzzling. Then there’s the issue of Sofia Coppola’s acting performance. It makes it pretty clear that nepotism isn’t always the greatest strategy.
So was it really that bad?
No, it really wasn’t. Despite the movie’s noticeable defects, there are still a number of memorable moments here worthy of the Godfather moniker. The helicopter massacre, Connie’s poison cannolis, Michael’s silent scream, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Al Pacino is at the top of his game here, delivering a memorable performance crowned by his heart-wrenching breakdown on the steps of the opera house at the film’s climax. He is truly fun to watch, and his portrayal of an older, slightly more mellow and emotional redemption-seeking Michael adds new and interesting layers to an already fascinating character.
While it’s hard to make a case for Part III being anywhere close to the two previous Godfather films, its predecessors set the bar so high that even an inferior third installment is better than most of what’s out there, especially today when the box office is dominated by CGI laced frivolity. The Godfather III is plagued by many problems, but none of them are severe enough to ruin the film or totally prevent it from being entertaining. However, since it’s a Godfather movie we expected perfection.
In the end, more than anything else, Part III is a victim of its own heritage, held to an unfair and impossibly high standard. Essentially, The Godfather, Part III is to movies what Michael Jordan’s sons are to basketball. If we can allow ourselves to be objective, and forget about the first two films for a moment, perhaps we can better appreciate Part III for what it is: a flawed, but highly entertaining and well acted (for the most part) crime drama. The bottom line here is The Godfather Part III is not nearly as good as the first two, but not nearly as bad as everyone seems to think.
Source: Dream Movie Cast