For some reason i rewatched the Godfather movies recently. These movies have become so iconic, it's a bit difficult to recognize that some of the motifs that now seem like cliches were then groundbreaking. When i first saw them, as a teenager, i thought Godfather 2 was better than Godfather. Now, my opinion has completely reversed. The Godfather is a movie one can watch over an over. The character arc of Michael, the change he undergoes is fascinating. Brando's performance, while excellent, seems a bit overrated in retrospect IMO. Still, he lends undeniable charisma to the picture and is immediately accepted by the viewer as a believable crime lord, due to that natural charisma, which includes warmth, an intimidating physical presence, a sense of humor. In contrast, i found Godfather II to be very overrated, and a comparative disappointment. One thing seems certain: it is more technically proficient from a film standpoint than its predecessor... but it lacks the soul that made the original so compelling, in my mind. The best parts of the film occur when Pacino is off screen. The scenes with Deniro are excellent. but Deniro is portrayed too sympathetically... It's almost as if he is a benevolent figure acting for justice. Still, cinematically the rise of Corleone is stirring. Other wonderful features include the acting by the actor who portrays Hyman Roth. One of the best supporting performance I've ever seen, in very limited screen time. However, the principle failing of the film, IMO, is the main character, Michael. I found Pacino to be completely without charisma, charm, a sense of humor, all the things that made Brando seem like such a credible Don. In contrast, I never really believed Pacino could be the leader of the American mafia. He just seemed too small and two dimensional for the role, unable to fill the shoes set out for him in the story. He lacks the charisma necessary to command the loyalty of his suboordinates. His performance is wooden, and all of the deference the other characters pay him became somewhat comical as I never believed him a credible mafia Don. Nothing happens to him as a character. He appears to be just as dead at the beginning as at the end to me. The theme of Gofather II, IMO, is a morality tale about Italian American identity. The theme is, as italian Americans move away from traditional italian culture, and begin to intermingle with other cultures, be it WASP or Jewish, they lose their vitality and strength, and then their souls. Michael and Fredo's dalliances with american women, and Michael's business dealing with Hyman roth, are a metaphor for these issues. How one feels about the validity of such a theme will vary from viewer to viewer. This is the core theme. There are other more superficial ones, such as the total corruption of the American State, and the rise of the Communists. The only idealism depicted in this movie belongs to the Cuban rebels. Everyone else is a cynical shell of a human being. I think that this theme may be one of the reasons for the movie's overwhelmingly positive critical reception, as there is no surer way to get super reviews from the press than to depict communist rebels in a positive light and the American system as degenerate. I wonder if Pacino's overracting in his career following Godfather II was a reaction to his own perception of his wooden performance in this film. He may have been overcompensating after analyzing his own performance. Does anyone agree that Godfather II is an overrated flick due to the lack of believability of Pacino as head of the American mafia? Or am I just searching for flaws in a true American classic?