The Godfather Trilogy is another (almost) great set from Paramount with a plethora of bonus features and excellent video and audio transfers. My only qualm is, like the DVD set, they’ve gone back to the cardboard digi-pak which means you’re SOL if any of them get damaged.
The Godfather Trilogy
Genre(s): Drama, Crime
Paramount | NR – 532 min. – $0.00 | March 22, 2022
Date Published: 03/13/2022 | Author: The Movieman
Paramount provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 4¾/5
This portion was copied from my 2008 DVD review and 2020 Blu-ray review of The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, but my thoughts remain the same.
This is a “basic” summary of my thoughts on the entire trilogy as a whole, and I do give some insights into each movie.
First, The Godfather is the movie I measure all other movies against in terms of quality. It’s not my favorite film of all-time, but it is the one movie I consider to be the best and has remained #1 on my list for many years now with no others coming close to supplanting it. Watching it for the first time in about five years, the movie had just as much impact as the first time I saw it back in 1995. The film captured my attention from the line “I believe in America” to the last show as the door closes on Diane Keaton’s character, Kay as she sees her husband take over his father’s business (and lie directly to her face prior).
If any movie could be called a masterpiece, it would be this. Modern cinema has produced many great films, some enticing the fanboy in me (The Dark Knight) while others are just damn good (The Shawshank Redemption). However, neither of these examples stacks up to The Godfather and admittedly it would have to be an event for one to do so. I think the reason I loved the movie so much is it’s not an entirely complex story on the one hand (corruption of power) but features so many top notch performances from Marlon Brando to Al Pacino to James Caan and Robert Duvall. Add to that an Oscar-winning screenplay by director Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo (based on this novel), and you got a winning formula. Despite a fairly lengthy running time of nearly 3-hours, it never lags and there is not one minute on screen that isn’t needed or detracts from the story. — 5.0/5
THE GODFATHER PART II
The only movie of all-time that does come close to matching The Godfather, of course, one of the undeniably best sequels ever made, The Godfather Part II. Although this one didn’t catch my attention like the original, it is one fine piece of filmmaking. First, it’s one of the only prequel and sequels all in one unfolding two stories. One shows the beginnings of Vito Corleone from his childhood days, early 20th century, in Sicily arriving to America through adulthood (portrayed masterfully by Robert De Niro). The other parallel story follows Don Michael Corleone in the 1950s as he tries to expand the family business dealing with the Cubans, Senators and the like. This entry is much more complex with the two dueling stories and the multifaceted relationships between Michael, his brother Fredo, sister Connie, and gangsters Frank Pentangeli and Hyman Roth (amongst many others).
I wasn’t as enamored with The Godfather Part II as the original, but it’s still a damn good movie and although it is 28-minutes longer (3 hours, 22 minutes), it too never feels that long. — 4.75/5
THE GODFATHER CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE
It’s been well over a decade if not longer since I watched The Godfather Part III but based on my limited recollection, and my rating on IMDb, didn’t seem like I disliked it, sure couldn’t hold a candle to the first two but a solid entry. However, it is understandable why the film has been criticized over the years and with studios allowing filmmakers to revisit their studio-tinkered works (i.e. Zach Snyder and Justice League), and probably shelf filler during this time, and Francis Ford Coppola got to assemble as close to the vision he and co-writer Mario Puzo intended, titled The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, more of an epilogue to the saga rather than a third part.
So having little recollection of Part III, I’m not entirely sure what was changed and going into this version fresh, I found it to be a solid flick, one that flows quite nicely and features some fine performances by Al Pacino, Diane Keaton (in a bit of a limited role), Talia Shire and Andy Garcia. Unfortunately, and albeit she had a couple okay scenes, Sofia Coppola, who is a damn good filmmaker, had some let’s say questionable scenes, including the pivotal ending. That being said, won’t say she was awful or even took the film down a notch, just a strong, and more experienced, actress should have been cast.
It will be interesting in the future to watch what I guess would be the true Godfather Saga with Coda following Part II. As it is, certainly does not live to the levels of its predecessors, but still highly engaging and even with it being 2.5 hours, flows pretty well. — 4.0/5
SPECIAL FEATURES – 5/5
This 5-disc set is housed in a slip case and each movie is in a cardboard digipak-type case (with the disc in a plastic hub). The last one contains two discs, one with two cuts of The Godfather Part III and another with all of the bonus features. Some of these have been copied over from the 2008 DVD review.
Full Circle: Preserving The Godfather (16:21) — This featurette goes through the work done to restore the movies with touch-ups, removal of specs and fixing film damage. I really enjoy these sorts of featurettes as the restoration process is fascinating.
Capturing the Corleones: Through the Lens of Photographer Steve Schapiro (13:21) is an interview with the special photographer on The Godfather Trilogy who sadly passed away in January 2022.
The Godfather: Home Movies (9:04) is home movie footage filmed in 1971 and offers a glimpse into the production.
Restoration Comparisons allows you to look at the scan element comparisons for The Godfather (5:19) and The Godfather Part II (5:24) between the 2007 and 2022 versions.
Feature Commentaries – I already had respect for Francis Ford Coppola, and that only grew as I like it when filmmakers record commentaries for their lengthy features, Coppola is just captivating in each one as you get so much info that combined with these featurettes, you get the entire story behind the movies.
The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t (29:44) – This is, for the first half at least, the most interesting featurette on the set. Here we get a real inside glimpse at what kind odds Coppola was up against as Paramount basically shot down every one of his casting choices and having another director there waiting in the wings for when Coppola would be fired. The rest is also good, but the material pertaining directly to the insider stuff was fascinating. Here you can get comments from Coppola, George Lucas, Spielberg, Chase and others.
Godfather World (11:19) – This is basically an appreciation featurette with interviews with many people as they reflect on how The Godfather has infiltrated the American culture from quoting lines in everyday conversation to the many homage’s on television and movies (“The Sopranos”, “The Simpsons”, Analyze This). Here you can find a variety of people talk about the movies from Joe Mantegna (who was in Part III), Alex Baldwin, David Chase (creator of “The Sopranos”), “South Park” co-creator Trey Parker and directors William Friedkin, Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg.
Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather (19:07) – Probably the most fascinating, for me, featurette looks at how the restoration process went down for the first two movies and balancing things like color correction making sure not to alter that director’s original intent. Only thing wrong: I wish it were longer.
…When the Shooting Stopped (14:18) is another oddly named featurette and one, along with “Godfather World” and “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t” could have been combined to be one long documentary. In any case, the first 4-5 minutes deal with Paramount wanting the film not to be a minute over 130 minutes but when that version didn’t please them, they took it anyway only to realize it needed to be longer in order for it to work. After that the featurette goes into the story of all three and I guess just an overview of the entire trilogy.
The Godfather on the Red Carpet (4:04) is a much better featurette than I had originally envisioned. Instead of some retrospective thing from the red carpet in 1972, it is instead on the red carpet of… Cloverfield and has comments from those attending the premiere (Jennifer Morrison, John Cho, Natasha Henstridge, Matt Reeves and more).
Four Short Films on The Godfather (7:23) which are basically featurettes comments from various people on four topics (not short films): “GF vs. GF Part II” features people talking about the comparison between the two movies; “Riffing on the Riffing” is just Richard Belzer and comedian Seth Isler rattling off quotes from the movies; “Cannoli” and “Clemenza” just offer more insights on those topics.
Next we get text items on the Filmmakers (Coppola, Puzo, etc); Galleries containing trailers, photos and acclaim & response; The Family Tree where viewers can look at the Corleone family; and Godfather Chronology showing the timeline of the trilogy.
Behind the Scenes:
35 Additional Scenes in order of when they took place in the story (by years so scenes from Godfather Part II would be first).
There are also Introductions The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Coda by Coppola.
On a separate disc are the two cuts for The Godfather Part III, one is the 1991 cut and the other the theatrical cut, the former running about 3 minutes longer. Given Coppola obviously prefers Coda and its considered part of the trilogy in this set while the other two cuts are housed in a case called “Bonus Discs”, I’ll treat it as such for this review. But I did test out both cuts and they look and sound great in their own rights, so if you’re not a fan of Coda, this one will not disappoint, in addition the 1991 cut does have the Audio Commentary with Coppola.
VIDEO – 5/5
Paramount releases The Godfather Trilogy as a set for the third and probably final time following the DVD and Blu-ray releases (which at one point I owned both). All three films are presented in the original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratios and given 2160p high-definition transfers. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II received restoration work which was outlined in a featurette while The Godfather Coda was I believe produced from the original camera negative when it was originally assembled in 2020.
In any case, all three movies look excellent in 4K, detail is sharp and well defined, the natural film grain still retained and thanks to the HDR, colors and depth is more vibrant than ever before. Colors seem to be on par with what was shown before and I can only assume this probably looked better than even when they were shown in theaters back in the day.
AUDIO – 4¾/5
All three films have a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 set as the default so I did watch with that option. These are well-rounded lossless tracks showcasing the beautiful score along with clear dialogue in every scene as well as some good depth with background and ambient noises. As a note, the first two films do have a restored original Dolby Digital Mono tracks which, after sampling, sounded good in their own right.
OVERALL — 4¾/5
The Godfather Trilogy is another (almost) great set from Paramount with a plethora of bonus features and excellent video and audio transfers. My only qualm is, like the DVD set, they’ve gone back to the cardboard digi-pak which means you’re SOL if any of them get damaged versus being able to replace a 4K keep case if something happened to the original.