The third installment of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather saga arrives on Blu-Ray today. "The Godfather Part III" was maligned upon its 1990 release, but the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and a Best Picture nomination, and while the film never reaches the highs of its predecessors, it's not as bad as its reputation.
Most of the surviving characters from the first two films return, with the crucial exception of Robert Duvall, who declined to reprise his role as Tom Hagen. Duvall is replaced with a new character played by George Hamilton, and while Hamilton is capable in the role, the loss of Duvall is felt. The biggest complaint during the film's release (aside from even making the film in the first place) was Coppola hiring his daughter Sofia to play Michael Corleone's daughter Mary. Coppola's performance is painfully flat, and while she would go on to become an acclaimed filmmaker, her acting roles have been few and far between.
Al Pacino returns as Michael Corleone, and save for his over-the-top screams during a scene while he's having a heart attack (Pacino at his hammy worst), he is subdued to the point of catatonia. Granted, the bulk of the film revolves around Michael refusing to take action. The film feels like an elegy for much of its running time, but unfortunately, what starts out somber becomes somnambulistic, with the pulse of the film coming to a stop at certain times.
Flaws aside, the film looks fantastic, as Coppola brought back many members of his original Godfather crew to make the film. Gordon Willis' signature cinematography looks great in high definition, all deep blacks and shades of brown. Technically, "The Godfather Part III" is superb, and this Blu-Ray, which marks the first time "Part III" has been released as a standalone disc, is a fantastic representation of a film that never comes close to its predecessors, but still offers its own pleasures. (Another good extra on the Blu-Ray: Coppola's brutally frank director's commentary.)
On its own terms, "The Godfather Part III" is a decent if overlong and humorless crime saga. Unfortunately, the fact that it's a continuation of two of the greatest films ever made is a weight that the film is unable to bear. You can view images from "The Godfather Part III” in the slideshow above. For the latest Blu-Ray news and reviews, subscribe to the Blu-Ray Examiner today.