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One of the few sequels in film history to be regarded by many as better than the first, The Godfather: Part ll was recently reissued on Blu-ray by Paramount with the same transfer, audio, and commentary track from director/ co-writer Francis Ford Coppola but sporting new cover art and a slipcover. So, if for some reason this masterpiece of a movie hasn’t made it into your Blu-ray collection, now is a great time to fix that.

In this, the longest of the three Godfather films, Coppola provides two stories. One deals with Michael’s consolidation of strength as the new head of the family, and his effort to head West to Las Vegas to operate casinos. The other explains how the family began. Through a series of flashbacks, we see how a young Vito Corleone rose from poverty to become one of the most powerful figures in organized crime.

At first blush, not having Brando appear at all in the second film would seem to spell disaster. However, Coppola cleverly dealt with the issue by working around him, filming a few scenes with the older Don present but out of the room. Fortunately, the rest of the cast shone with greater brilliance. Actor’s Studio director and “method” advocate Lee Strasberg made his screen debut as Hyman Roth, the money man of the mob families, a character patterned on real-life gangster Meyer Lansky. And in what was one of the best casting decisions in film history, Robert De Niro played the young Vito in an Academy Award winning performance.

 The Godfather Part II received eleven Academy Award nominations and won six, including the Best Picture Award and the Best Supporting Actor Award for Robert De Niro. Al Pacino’s performance as Michael in this film may be his best performance to date. He runs the gamut of emotions in this epic story and makes you feel he is Michael Coreleone. I for one, have also been perplexed by the fact that he didn’t win an Oscar for that performance.

Presented in the 1.85.1 aspect ratio, Paramount has delivered a solid transfer. Sharpness is strong throughout. Clarity and delineation are also very good. The image is clean, with no apparent print flaws. Grain levels were appropriate throughout. The color palette is rather dark, and low key, but it works well for the film, and black levels are appropriately dense. This is a fine transfer.

The audio mixes for The Godfather and this film, are very similar.  The Dolby True HD 5.1 soundtrack is a bit of an up and down proposition. Taken from the film’s original monaural stems, the mix attempts to fill a large soundstage. Audio is centered largely in the fronts, with ambient sounds in the sides. Music was provided with a nice sense of separation. Actual surround activity was minimal. A noticeable echo made dialogue sound a lot different, though it was always understandable. in this case, even though it shortened the soundfield a bit, the including mono soundtrack offers the best listening experience.

English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Writer / Director Francis Ford Coppola: As with The Godfather commentary, Coppola seems remarkably honest here about the shoot, various issues that came up, the cast, locations, and more. Well worth a listen.