Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. Courtesy of Paramount.

Newly restored and edited, Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone marks the definitive ending of the saga.

Maybe it is because I was younger but I don’t remember the third film being so bad.  Come to think of it, I’m not even sure if I did see the third film.  I would need to ask my uncle since he owned the first two films on VHS.  In reading over Wikipedia, I can tell you that there are certainly some changes to the film’s scene order.  Some scenes now take place before the scenes that originally preceded them.  Another major change is the film’s ending.  Not the shootout, death, and montage but the final ending itself.  Coppola delivers a completely different ending altogether.  On top of this, we have a new beginning.

Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda follows Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in his 60s.  It is 1979 and he is now divorced from Kay (Diane Keaton).  Michael is also searching for someone to succeed him while freeing the family from crime.  Could this successor be Sonny’s illegitimate son, Vincent (Andy Garcia)?  One thing to note about the plot is that real-life events inspire the film: the 1978 death of Pope John Paul I and the1981-82 Papal banking scandal.

Following edits, the new run time is 157 minutes.  This may be a few minutes shorter but Coppola makes substantial changes in the painstaking process to restore the film’s picture and sound.  More than this, the goes even further than a basic restoration.  Instead, he makes changes to scenes, shots, and music cues.  How about that for celebrating the 30th anniversary?!?  The results are splendid.  Coppola and Puzo’s original vision for the finale will finally grace the screen.  You have a choice of seeing it on either big or small screen.  Please go with the safe choice.  Audiences will be able to bring the film home to watch on Blu-ray or Digital.  Coppola introduces the film.  However, there are no bonus features.  My hope is that the entire trilogy gets released on 4K Ultra HD.

Listen, I don’t get the big deal about the frustration over Sofia Coppola portraying Mary Corleone.  Personally, I do not think there is anything wrong with her performance.  Maybe it’s because I’m less likely to blame actors in as much as I’m more likely to blame script problems itself.  But in any event, Julia Roberts’s scheduling conflicts and Winona Ryder having nervous exhaustion–according to a Guardian piece–lead to Sofia Coppola taking the role.  Seeing what Sofia Coppola and her father went through is one of the reasons why I’m strongly hesitant to pan a film–any film.  If I don’t like a film, I’m going to say it.  However, I usually believe the problems originate at the script level rather than the acting.  I could never live with myself if something I wrote led to a breakdown.  But I digress.

Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda brings definitive closure to the epic Corleone franchise.

DIRECTOR:  Francis Ford Coppola
SCREENWRITER:  Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola
CAST:  Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton, Sofia Coppola

Paramount Pictures will release Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone in select theaters on December 4, 2020. The Blu-ray and Digital release will follow on December 8, 2020. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.