Ever since it was released, The Godfather Part III has been dubbed one of the worst sequels ever made. Yet still their are those that say it wasn't that bad. Is this a sequel that needed to be made, or was it just made to put more money in Francis Ford Coppola's wallet?
Hate to disagree but, Godfather III was alright, it's not great and nowhere near as perfect as the first two Godfather movies, but it wasn't horrible. I didn't hate it at all but it's not as memorable as the first two films.
1) The timing was completely wrong. Coming into theaters 3 months after Goodfellas, we (The audience) had a change in our "Gangster movies". With movies such as Scarface, Goodfellas, and other "Mafia-movies", the focus at that point was totally on the "Crime and violence" more than anything else. While Godfather (All 3 movies) were focused on the "Family life" of the Mafia-members. As such, the movie came out too late.
2) The whole "potential to disappointment" ratio. While it's true that the Godfather parts 1 and 2 were fantastic films that should be watched by everyone. Godfather 3 just couldn't live up to the "potential to be great" because of the "Godfather name". In a way, it's the same thing that had happened to the Star Wars franchise. 30yrs (or more) of being called the "Best movies of all time" and they come out with the 3rd movie (or prequels) and there was too much pressure on the movie(s) to be good. They weren't poorly MADE movies, but they were poorly EXECUTED movies. The scripts weren't as good, the characters felt like hollow shells of their old selves, and the situations felt forced.
3) The key factor for Godfather 3 was the decline of Michael Corleone as a CHARACTER. We saw him at the end of Part 2 killing his foes, killing his brother, defeating Congressional hearings, and embedding himself further into a world of self-loathing for what happened to him personally, but securing the future of the "Crime-family". Yet, with Godfather 3, we gotta see him being old, diabetic, sort of wimpy in a lot of ways, opting to pay-off people instead of killing them off, and of course let's not forget the "Change of power" to Vincent Mancini. But possibly the WORST thing was having to deal with Joey Zasa as the "bad guy" of the movie. I'm sorry, but Michael Corleone from Godfather 2 would NEVER let someone like Joey Zasa actually "run" a section of the family, no matter what. Yet we got to see Michael literally cower in fear of upsetting THIS type of character? It just didn't feel right, and it didn't fit the Michael Corleone we knew from parts 1 and 2.
4) The casting. Andy Garcia is a GOOD actor. But his character was a CHEAP copy of Sony Corleone and it showed in every way. He was written poorly as a character, because he literally was just a caricature of Sony. Sofia Coppola wasn't really that great of an actress, and too much time was spent on her character. In short, she became the central focus of the movie, not Michael. Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton and others weren't bad.... just hollow characters that never felt like they belonged to the story. As a matter of fact, Bridget Fonda's character is really just a throw away character to set up Sony ( I mean Vincent) to kill the hitmen. Nothing special. But by far, the worst casting was Franc D'Ambrosio as Anthony. They focused TOO much on someone that could sing Opera, but not enough on someone that could ACT. He didn't really become "decent as an actor" until he spent 5yrs doing Phantom of the Opera that he came around as an actor, and even then it was mostly for his voice not his acting skills. As such, almost all his scenes hurt to watch because he's so wooden and stiff in his delivery. For someone that is supposed to be with his father and mother (as a character) there was no "Connection" felt. He seemed like he was stuck in a room with a bunch of complete strangers, and it felt like Michael Corleone's son had to be the most wimpy/cowardly person on the planet.
5) Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola themselves. When they were doing Part 1 and 2, both of them were relatively unknowns at the time and were free of all the "Hollywood trappings" to do what they wanted to do. Yet, by the time that Part 3 came around, they were actually now pat of the "Hollywood World" and as such, they constantly fell into the Hollywood Cliche' machine. Look at how the scenes are set up, and the pacing. It became a "typical movie" type feel, and not something worthy of the "Godfather legacy".
6) Different production personnel. Peter Zinner was no longer part of the editing team. Carmine Coppola took over the original music, so it didn't sound the same. Art direction, Set design, Costume departments.... they were all new people, and felt "un-connected" to Parts 1 and 2. And so on, and so on, and so on. The entire "behind the camera" crew were different people. The only thing that was still connected to the first 2 movies were TWO of the producers, and Coppola was one of those two.
Now, having said all that. I agree that the movie (As a single film) isn't a BAD movie on it's own. But when you look at it as part of the Godfather Trilogy, it falls flat on it's face and is a disgrace. It's sort of sad really. If you watch it without seeing the first two movies, you MIGHT actually like it although you would be lost on so many things that have happened to the main characters. But, if you've seen the first two films, you'll completely HATE the third because it's failures are so massive you can't miss them.
Now here's a guy that loves the Godfather. I agree with everything you've said so I won't go on about everything that was wrong with this movie, you've basically summed it up.
When looking at the GF3, as a standalone film it is decent. There are parts that I really enjoyed (I particularly liked Michael's death scene) but there were just so many scenes that didn't fit, and the nepotism in putting Sofia Coppola (who can't act but can direct some prett good movies - big fan of Lost In Translation) as one of the main characters and spending so much time on her just took me out of the movie.
And like MDS said, the Michael Corleone of the GF 1 & 2 would not have put up with the people in this movie. This is the guy that killed his own brother for betraying him and we are supposed to believe he would take shit from somebody like Joey Zasa?! Get the fuck outta here.
The Godfather 1 and 2 are my favourite movies, nothing else comes close for me. So to see this movie and compare it to the other two, I can't do it. As a standalone film, the GF3 is decent, but compared to the GF 1 & 2, well, it's simply a piece of shit compared to the other two. Not saying it's a terrible movie, but it does not compare AT ALL to the other two movies.
I enjoyed the Godfather 3. Sure it was a bit...off...compared to the other two, but so what, good movie.
Whenever anyone asks my opinion of the movie, I say just fast forward past every frame that Sophia Coppola is in and it's great.