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The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (1990, 2020) - Blu-ray Review

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The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a fitting conclusion to The Godfather.  It might have taken us some time to get there, but with the release of The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, that finale is upon us and what a much better film this cut is as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

"the improvements are like manna from a cinematic heaven"


For years, we weren’t permitted to discuss The Godfather: Part III in certain companies.  Whether it was because Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) was missing or the character of Mary (Sofia Coppola) was included, the simple fact was that Part III, with its bizarre pacing and yawn inducing plot points, never lived up to the masterpieces that Part I and Part II had previously presented.  By 1990 (but not after a fairly heated roast of the movie) The Godfather films and its legacy was put to rest . . . or so we thought.

Writer/director Francis Ford Coppola, dusting off Paramount’s theatrically released The Godfather: Part III, has just made us all eat our opinions of the movie and its weaknesses with the release of The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.  Is this movie now a masterpiece, BUT it is a much better movie and far more interesting as a character study of a man who is drowning in oceans of regret as he tries to legitimize his family’s business . . . one last time.

It’s not a redux and it’s not an after hours approach to slicing and dicing previous releases, but The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone IS far more interesting than I first suspected it would be as far as re-releases go.  Mere edits, some tweaking here and some tightening up there, and a faster (and better opening) and - BOOM - the improvements are like manna from a cinematic heaven as Al Pacino and Andy Garcia (as Vincent) get the opportunity to elevate this film’s significance when compared to the other film’s in its legacy.The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

To put it simply, Coppola has recut the film so that we get straight to the heart of the matter with Michael Corleone (Pacino) discussing a $600 million contribution to the Vatican with Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly).  Michael wants redemption and this movie, now more somber in tone as Pacino tears our hearts right out of our chests with a commanding performance, proves that no matter how he plans to get out with some peace of mind, he will always “get pulled back in” by the sheer force of those operating around him, including his best friend Don Altobello (Eli Wallach).  

But the regret that this head of a powerful criminal organization feels for the death of his brother is pushing him under each wave of emotion and it is truly palpable in this retooling of the movie, which includes changes in the score, performances, and length.  There is some great work here from Pacino that was muddied thanks to some poor choices in the original edit of the movie, which put politics and business in front of characterization, leaving .

Garcia’s energy in this film FINALLY has a purpose as he is introduced much earlier and it makes for an impactful change for the character and the story at its center as a whole.  While Michael tries to reunite with Kay (Diane Keaton), manage Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna), and deal with his cherished daughter, Mary (Coppola), there is a new tone mined in each performance that gives the audience a bit more understanding as to the reasons why than we previously had.  While on the subject of Mary, Coppola has even changed the ending on us, making a new one that is so gut-wrenchingly GENIUS that you’ll be left speechless.

All in all, The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone feels more focused and more authentic then what was previously presented in Part III.  Stripped of that “Part” aspect, as Part I and Part II were a continuing narrative, this entry feels less forced and more nuanced than expected.  It is also more akin to a Shakespearean tragedy than I was expecting.  The movie is now on blu-ray thanks to Paramount.

4/5 stars

The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- December 8, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, French SDH, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; German: Dolby Digital 5.1; Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of The Godfather: Part III, director/screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola brings a definitive new edit and restoration of the final film in his epic Godfather trilogy—Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.  Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), now in his 60s, seeks to free his family from crime and find a suitable successor to his empire. That successor could be fiery Vincent (Andy Garcia)... but he may also be the spark that turns Michael's hope of business legitimacy into an inferno of mob violence. The film’s meticulously restored picture and sound, under the supervision of American Zoetrope and Paramount Pictures, includes a new beginning and ending, as well as changes to scenes, shots, and music cues. The resulting project reflects author Mario Puzo and Coppola’s original intentions of The Godfather: Part III, and delivers, in the words of Coppola, “a more appropriate conclusion to The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.”

Video:

The 4K scan is like unearthing a lost, national treasure in 1.85:1. It’s ridiculous how good this transfer is when you consider the lackluster releases of The Godfather movies that Paramount has previously issued. While we are due some Ultra HD releases next year, the jump in contrast, colors and black levels here is indeed revelatory.  The comparison is nearly an embarrassment to how poorly they have handled the film since its debut on HD. With this anniversary release, everything feels new again. While colors are no longer muted, the entire picture is bathed new again. Black levels are deep and never lose their edge. Long-shots are as detailed as close-ups, too.

Audio:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is quite active and thunders across the screen with impressive highs and lows as bullets spray through rooms and crack windows.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

There is a short introduction to the film from Francis Ford Coppola that will want to be seen before the film plays.

  • Introduction by Francis Ford Coppola

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Composite Score

3.5/5 stars

The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

MPAA Rating: R for violence and language.
Runtime:
162 mins
Director
: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer:
Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
Cast:
Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia
Genre
: Drama | Crime
Tagline:
Real power can't be given. It must be taken.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Never let anyone know what you are thinking."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 25, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 8, 2020.
Synopsis: In the final installment of the epic Corleone trilogy, Al Pacino reprises his role as powerful family leader Michael Corleone. Now in his 60's, Michael is consumed with guilt for his past deeds while he plans his family's re-emergence as a completely legitimate corporation in this exciting, long-awaited film.

The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

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