Godfather: Part III, The (1990)

Good but not great, this final film of the ‘Godfather’ trilogy should still please the more generous fans.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
1990 | USA | Crime/Drama | 162 mins | 1.37:1 | English, Italian & German
PG (passed clean) for violence and language

Cast: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia, Talia Shire, Eli Wallach
Plot: In the midst of trying to legitimize his business dealings in New York City and Italy in 1979, aging Mafia Don Michael Corleone seeks to avow for his sins, while taking his nephew Vincent Mancini under his wing.
Awards: Nom. for 7 Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Original Song
Distributor: Paramount

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: DVD
First Published: 28 Aug 2008
Spoilers: Mild

1990 was the year which saw Francis Ford Coppola competitively drew swords with fellow compatriot Martin Scorsese.  The Godfather: Part III versus Goodfellas in a fight for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, which was eventually given to Kevin Costner and his romantic western Dances with Wolves.  

With Goodfellas, Scorsese taught us how to make a great crime drama. However, with The Godfather: Part III, Coppola demonstrated what it took to turn a great mob tale into something less than ordinary. 

If there’s any consolation, it would be the consistent performances of Al Pacino, Talia Shire, and Diane Keaton.  While they have visibly aged, they still do remember how to act out their roles as they would if it were two decades ago.  

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

There are two newcomers to the scene, Andy Garcia and Sofia Coppola. Garcia is still able to nail his role well despite being outclassed by Pacino. Sofia’s character is well-written, but she is a dud in acting and has an irritating accent to boot; this is probably another reason Part III does not resonate well with fans. 

Just like Part II, it ends somewhat tragically.  But Part III‘s narrative structure shares more resemblance to that of Part I – elaborate celebratory parties, the rise of a new successor to the Corleone family, unflinching violence, and a lengthy, well-edited climax.

Interestingly, Part III has a more Gothic feel and has a strong religious slant towards Catholicism, and ultimately the virtue of atoning for one’s sins.  The Godfather Part III was no doubt an ambitious project.  

Believing he could further expand the story and bring a satisfying conclusion to the epic saga, Coppola tried too hard to make things ticked. Unfortunately, lightning did not strike thrice. 

Grade: B+



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