The iconic series about one family’s rise in organized crime and their decades-long quest for legitimacy breathes new life with what is likely the very best home video release ever. In time to celebrate the first film’s Golden Anniversary, Paramount Home Entertainment and Francis Ford Coppola deliver The Godfather Trilogy to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Each film has once again been meticulously restored creating spectacular new 4K Dolby Vision transfers for each film with excellent audio with restored mono tracks for the first two films with all three cuts of Part III. Add in hours of excellent new and archival bonus features - Coppola and Paramount have gone to the mattresses for these films to bring fans an essential piece for any 4K UHD collection. Must Own
"The Godfather is one of those rare films that has been broken down, analyzed, and written about endlessly for the last fifty years, and yet there’s still room for discussion and appreciation. From the incredible source novel that spawned it to the turbulent production and post-production process to its grand release in theaters in 1972, the film has many stories to tell. On one hand, we have the cinematic story of an immigrant who rose to prosperity through a life of crime but desperately wants to legitimize his family name so his children don’t have to pay the price for his sins. On the other hand, you have the behind-the-scenes story of a rising filmmaker who just won an Oscar with a lot to prove with a major production and a maverick studio president tasked with turning around the ailing fortunes of Paramount. It’s such a rich story that a television series is set to release April 2022 - nearly 50 years to the day of the premier of The Godfather. Mario Puzo’s story and the story of the making of the film go hand-in-hand and are equally fascinating." 5/5
The Godfather: Part II
"An amazing array of talent once again reteamed to bring this film together. Not only do we have Oscar-worthy turns from Pacino, Keaton, and Duvall, we also see the arrival of Robert De Niro in an Oscar-winning turn as the young Vito Corleone. However, as great as everyone is in this film, it’s John Cazale who always stands out for me. The Godfather franchise is often cited as the rise and fall of Michael Corleone - but an equally important and perhaps more tragic character is Cazale’s Fredo. Maybe it’s also because Cazale only made five films in his sadly short life, but this round as Fredo guts me. The middle child, he represents inept potential. He never gets to shine. He failed to protect his father. He failed at casinos. He’s too meek to be Sonny and he’s not clever enough to be Michael. He desperately wants to leave his mark within the family but he’s always the one that needed to be taken care of. We never got to see Fredo achieve anything resembling greatness and we never got to fully appreciate Cazale’s full breadth of talent. With five incredible performances (in five Best Picture nominated films) - I feel this is Cazale’s best role and deserved far more recognition than it got.
In the annals of sequel history, The Godfather: Part II somehow manages to be a monumental success. I’m someone who can’t jump into that debate of whether the first or the second film is better. They’re both incredible to me. They truly feel like one cinematic experience to the point that when they crafted The Godfather Saga cut for television editing the two films together chronologically, it was seamless. My lone complaint with this 4K release of the trilogy is we don’t get that multipart re-edit of the first two films. Regardless, it’s very difficult for me to watch The Godfather without jumping right into The Godfather: Part II. They’re one story." 5/5
The Godfather: Part III
"Now with Coppola’s new preferred cut Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III does gain some semblance of redemption and actually fits a little better within the greater story established by the first two films. For starters, the editing is far less clunky. Before this review, I’d only ever seen the 1991 Director’s Cut and I always felt like the edits were uncomfortably abrupt as each scene just smashed into the next. The rearrangement of specific scenes at the outset and some of the later segments in Sicily feels more organic and natural and actually has a richer dramatic flow. A little tighter editing around some of the more stilted line reads feels more even-handed and actually helps the weaker performances in the film.
I still won’t call this a great movie because from the outset it lacks the drive and passion of the first two films, but this new cut makes it better and certainly a more watchable and emotionally satisfying experience. Ultimately The Godfather: Part III - whichever cut - is a decent but sadly mediocre film. I don’t hate it and never have. It’s watchable and entertaining, but when I watch the first film I have to watch Part II soon after. I’ve never felt that driving need to watch Part III with any immediacy. It’s nice to know where the story ends, but it’s an ending I didn’t need to see to be satisfied with the first two films." 4/5
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
After years of news and teases and a variety of other Coppola films arriving on the high-end format, the day has finally arrived for The Godfather Trilogy to come home to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. A five-disc set, each film gets its own BD-100 disc with The Godfather: Part III getting an extra BD-100 disc for the original Theatrical Cut and 1991 Director's Cut. The bulk of the bonus features are presented on a BD-50 Blu-ray disc. None of the films are offered in 1080p in this set. Each main disc is housed in a paper digipak with plastic hub and housed in a paper slipcase. ALso included is a digital copy slip with three codes, one for each film. Being a Paramount release, the codes are not Movies Anywhere compatible and can only redeem at VUDU or iTunes
"With the introduction of any new high-end home video format, the question that’s often asked (maybe more so than even The Abyss) is “when are we getting The Godfather?” That day has finally come and it was worth every day we waited. When The Godfather Trilogy arrived on DVD and then later on Blu-ray, the films were met with heaps of praise but some small issues would always crop up to hold them back from greatness. That my dear fellow Corleone fans is not the issue here. Since the last restoration, more elements and pieces of the film have been rediscovered allowing Coppola and his team to go back and give this film even more love and attention than they did in 2007. And with that, this is the first time I feel like Coppola and Paramount absolutely knocked it out of the park.
Gordon Willis’ beautiful deep brown/black, orange/yellow sepia photography is perfectly captured with this new 4K restoration with Dolby Vision HDR (and HDR10). Details are stunning and lifelike - every frame can be meticulously scrutinized. Film grain is organic, naturally cinematic without becoming intrusive or distracting but retained without any overt signs of smoothing or tinkering. Edge enhancement is not an issue. Black crush is not a problem. In short - it’s essentially as close to perfect as it gets. Colors aren’t changed or enhanced, they’re just improved and authentic to the original intentions of the production." 5/5
The Godfather: Part II
"Like the first film, The Godfather: Part II comes to life with an equally stunning 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision (and HDR10) transfer. Those first scenes in the early 1900s Sicily just make you sit there and say “wow!” - It’s genuinely incredible from frame one to that final iconic closing shot. Given the time period and where the story moves into the old streets of New York, courtrooms, and into the streets of 1950s Cuba, there are a lot of brightly lit sequences to fully appreciate the range of colors, details, and amazing production design that went into the making of this film. This film more than the others in the trilogy amazes me that Gordon Willis didn’t score an Oscar let alone a nomination for his cinematography.
As with the first film, the Dolby Vision pass doesn’t work to radically alter the appearance of the film but preserve its best qualities. Primaries hold tight with brilliant reds and blues, and of course, yellows and oranges are still a prevailing color choice of the film. Black levels are again deep and true inky with amazing shadows. Like the first film that sense of three-dimensional depth really sets you back. Big party and crowd scenes really come to life. There are a lot of white suits in this film and they look brilliant and bold without any of the blooming issues of past releases. Again some nice specular highlights come to life as well. Granted, all three films in the trilogy look incredible and are demo-worthy examples, but I would lean on this one in particular as the showstopper of the set." 5/5
The Godfather: Part III
"The thing I really appreciated is how these restorations are a tribute to the incredible makeup work. Vito’s aged appearance in the first film or Michael’s haggard appearance in this film stands up to scrutiny from the added resolution. One of the unfortunate downsides with the 4K format is that it can sometimes be a look behind the curtain. You can clearly spot dodgy special effects matting or even shoddy makeup work. Not for The Godfather films. If anything, the added details make you appreciate the work more because it’s so convincingly lifelike you’d swear a fifty-year-old Al Pacino was well into his late 60s with a variety of health conditions. Again, film grain is beautifully retained and natural to the film without looking smoothed out. Textures in clothing and the impressive production design details of late 70s/early 80s New York to Vatican City to Sicily are on full display.
Like the first two films, the Dolby Vision HDR grade does what it’s supposed to do and delivers subtle refinements and improvements without altering the appearance with overly aggressive primaries. Black levels are again beautifully deep with that same level of shadow separation leading to some stunning three-dimensional depth to the image. When Michael is giving Kay the tour of Sicily it’s beautiful stuff! Whites are equally brilliant and crisp without blooming. The climax at the opera is a great example of how well-rendered black levels, shadows, limited light sources, and whites are handled. Again this is another damn near-perfect example of how a quality restoration should be handled."
"The Godfather comes with a pair of audio options for fans to choose from. You get the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track we’ve all come to know and love but also we get the restore lossy Dolby Digital mono track. Truth be told, it’s the dealer’s choice. I’ve only ever been able to enjoy the mono track when I got to screen an archival print so it’s nice to hear that track again. It might not quite have the same “oomph” and presence of the 5.1 mix - but it’s still a clean and effective mix." 4/5
The Godfather: Part II
Like the first film, The Godfather: Part II comes with a pair of audio mixes to chose from. For the first time, you now get the restored lossy Dolby Digital mono track - which I’ve never been able to hear before so that was a real treat. It sounds great so if you’re a purist who wants that audio experience it’s available to you. But at the same time, I think I still prefer the 5.1 track. It could be that I’m just so used to that True HD mix now that it’s become what I prefer. The Fanucci assassination at the parade is such a great example of how they worked the track for surround sound or the big party in Cuba and the chaos as Michael tries to get off the island really works the soundscape nicely. Again both tracks are great so it’s awesome fans get to choose what’s best for their setups and personal tastes. 4/5
The Godfather: Part III
All three cuts of The Godfather: Part III rock a splendid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. No mono for this one because, well, there wasn’t one to begin with. And that’s okay because this is an all-around impressive track. Dialog for all three cuts remains clean and clear without issue. The soundscape is active and aggressive when and where necessary. I love how the film segues from that intense helicopter sequence to a dark stormy dramatic conversation in a kitchen with the iconic "... they pull me back in" line from Pacino. Scoring by Carmine Coppola comes through beautifully - and depending on which cut you’re watching - with some impressive dramatic flair. 4.5/5
A bonus features offer you can't refuse... All three films have their original audio commentaries with Francis Ford Coppola and the Bonus Features disc offers all of the archival materials that have peppered previous home video releases. Thankfully Coppola and Paramount didn’t stop with the basics, they crafted a slew of new materials to dig through and enjoy. Now, the disc featuring the Theatrical and 1991 Director’s Cut of The Godfather: Part III are found in the Bonus Features digipak. These restored cuts of the film are exclusive to the 4K UHD Blu-ray set and since Coda is Coppola’s preferred version, I can see why they’re slipped in here, but I don’t consider them as bonus features in of themselves. So I’m not including their presence in the overall score for this bonus features package.
The Godfather 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
The Godfather: Part II 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
The Godfather: Part III Theatrical/1991 Director’s Cut 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc
Bonus Features Disc:
The Godfather Trilogy brings together two of the very best films ever committed to celluloid with a third decent but less impressive third outing. Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo dig deep into the tragic underpinnings of a family melodrama set against the deadly backdrop of organized crime. The first two films are legendary in scale and scope and highlight some of the best performances from a generation of actors at their peak. Now once again each film has been lovingly and carefully restored in 4K and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Each film looks better than ever with new Dolby Vision transfers that easily overshadows all previous home video release. Both of the first films now offer Dolby Digital mono tracks with their TrueHD 5.1 counterparts and the third film gets all three cuts on disc. To top things off, the hours of new and archival bonus features assembled will keep you occupied long after you've watched through the full trilogy. If you're a fan of The Godfather and need the full trilogy in your collection, it doesn't get better than this. Must Own