The Godfather Trilogy – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

The Godfather

The Godfather

The Godfather remains one of the most outstanding pieces of American cinema ever made. It spawned many tributes like The Sopranos, and not to mention, has been parodied many, many times. The Godfather represents so much more than its story and characters. The film is also rich in themes and a brilliant representation of the dark side of the American dream. At the same time, the movie is meticulously lit, shot, cut, and scored with the highest quality. 

While on the surface, The Godfather may seem like any other mafia movie, it’s much more than that. It’s a film about family and the idealogy of loyalty and love. These themes are brilliantly established right from the get-go during Connie’s wedding. Sure, the Corleones’ mob activity is deplorable. Yet, the character depth of the family transformed them into the protagonist of the film. It’s a testament to Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo’s masterful script.

While many people put The Godfather Part II ahead of the first film, to me, The Godfather is a tad bit better than the sequel. Much of that has to do with the performances by Marlon Brando and James Caan. Brando delivers a character that’s both magnetic and tender. In a career-defining role, Caan is tough-as-nails and brings a lot of drama to the film.

Overall, The Godfather is a perfect film from beginning to end. Coppola’s ability to bring psychological depth and understanding was unprecedented at the time for a “mob film.” Before then, mob films were full of Italian stereotypes. Thus, to the surprise of no one, the film was nominated for several Academy Awards. As Vito Corleone’s once famously said, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Similarly, The Godfather is simply a film that no one could refuse.

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

Video

The Godfather hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Paramount’s work in restoring and remastering The Godfather trilogy. Since the stellar 2008 Blu-ray release, better sources have been found, and the technology has been improved to further the film’s restoration. It’s why The Godfather looks stupendously crisp in 4K. The whites look brilliant, and the blacks are dark and deep. Even in the darkest of nights, much of the shadow details are still visible. It’s consistent throughout, but you can see it in the scene between Tom Hagen and Jack Woltz on the studio lot. 

Considering the age when The Godfather was made, it’s a complete surprise that the colors look as vibrant as they do. When the neon lights of the Radio City Music Hall appear, they pop off the screen. Not to mention, the blood is a rich scarlet red. The picture also looks so crisp throughout. Every facial wrinkle, clothing pattern, and everything in between is clearly visible. At the same time, the film grain complements the picture and provides the movie’s filmic look.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio

The Godfather hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. There aren’t many instances where object placement comes into play, but it occurs at crucial moments in the film. Moments such as when the storm comes in when Michael confronts Captain McCluskey, the thunder moves like a wave across the soundstage. Similarly, you can say the same thing about the audio mix’s atmospheric effects. The city sounds of New York City come to life, and scenes set on the streets make it feel alive. Nino Rota’s iconic score fills up the soundstage, but the instruments aren’t separated. Thus, the score sounds static instead of dynamic.

The dialogue takes priority, and sounds are audible throughout. Although one can hear the vocals, it doesn’t mean that you can still understand what they’re saying. At times, it’s hard to understand what the actors are saying, and it’s not just Vito Corleone. At the same time, due to the age of the audio, the dialogue doesn’t sound as crisp as it should be.

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II

It’s well-known in Hollywood that sequels are typically not as good as the first film. One could make the excuse of greed and the desire for an easy dollar as the motivation for “expanding” cinematic stories. Most of the time, this is true. Yet, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, there’s The Empire Strikes Back or The Lord of the Rings. Thankfully, The Godfather Part II is a film that is as good or even better than its predecessor. Many sequels suffer from wanting to repeat all the elements that help make the first film a success. The Godfather Part II succeeds where many sequels are doomed to failure because it wants to change things up. Rather than solely focusing on continuing Michael’s story, we go back in time to tell the story of a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro). 

Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola ingeniously use Michael’s (Al Pacino) first days as head of the Corleone Family, juxtaposed with flashbacks of his father Vito’s first days as head of a crime family. While The Godfather focuses largely on the family of characters, Part II focuses more on Michael and Vito. Even with this narrowed focus, the film is still a massive success as Coppola looks at the tough choices both men had to make as well as the fallout of these decisions.

Despite The Godfather Part II‘s broader scope but doesn’t forget to include the smaller, more intimate moments and surprising emotional beats.

Overall, not only is The Godfather Part II one of the best prequels ever made, but it’s also one of the best sequels ever made. Like its predecessor, The Godfather Part II is a masterpiece of American cinema that continues to explore themes of family, power, and legacy. 

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

Video

The Godfather Part II hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As with the first film, The Godfather Part II looks absolutely stunning in Ultra HD. From the opening in Sicily to the last shot of Michael Corleone, this Ultra HD release will make you appreciate the amount of visual flair that’s in the sequel. Also, similar to the first film, the addition of Dolby Vision doesn’t drastically change the appearance of the film. Instead, it accentuates and preserves the film’s best qualities. Thus, the video review for The Godfather basically applies to Part II as well. The only difference is that the film grain in Part II is more prevalent than in the first film. As a result, it leads to a genuinely organic cinematic appearance.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio

The Godfather Part II hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. Like the first film, The Godfather Part II carries over the 5.1 Dolby mix from the 2008 Blu-ray release. Similarly, the Part II mix comes with the same excellent presentation that has some great depth, layering, and immersion. It’s an engaging mix that complements the film in every way possible. Luckily, the dialogue is much easier to understand than in the first film.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone / The Godfather Part III

As much as the first two Godfather films are close to perfection as they can get, The Godfather Part III is anything but. The original Part III lacked any drama and relatable themes that made the first two films classics. Not to mention, the film felt like a generic mafia film made in the 90s. 

Thirty years from its initial release, though, The Godfather Part III gets a new cut and a new title, The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. Director Francis Ford Coppola has said that he and writer Mario Puzo’s original vision for the third film was an epilogue rather than a part three. This new Godfather cut trims the fat and tweaks moments from restored footage. At the same time, the beginning and end are slightly different to give a distinct emphasis to the title.

Nevertheless, Coda is still not very good, but it does improve upon the original (and 1991 director’s cut). Despite the work by Coppola, the negative aspects of the film are hard to remove, mainly because the film’s story problems are impossible to remove—specifically the cringeworthy romantic storyline between first cousins Vincent and Mary.

Andy Garcia has the impossible task of representing the next generation of the Corleone crime family. It’s an intriguing arc as Vincent turns from a petty criminal to a slick mobster and is one of the better performances in the film. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Sofia Coppola. No matter how you edit the film, Coppola still can’t mask her daughter’s wooden performance.

Overall, The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is an improvement over what has come before. While Coppola has gone and reworked the film, The Godfather Coda is essentially still the same. So, those who were not fans of The Godfather Part III in its original form in 1990 are unlikely to change their minds.

Movie Rating: 3/5 atoms

Video

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and The Godfather Part III hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Vision/HDR10 transfer and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Since The Godfather Coda (a.k.a. Part III) was released almost 20 years after Part II, it’s no surprise that Coda looks better than the previous two films. Of course, the same as the first two films, the whites are brilliant, and the shadows are inky black. Coda features a wider color palette than the previous installments, and all of these colors look much bolder. The picture is crisper as well. So much so, that the clearer picture also highlights the iffy makeup job done on the cast. Surprisingly, both Part III and Coda have thicker and more noticeable film grain compared to the other films. Regardless, the video transfer looks spectacular across the board for all Godfather films.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Audio

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The Godfather Part III hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. Coda comes with a fabulous 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that is immersive and engaging. The mix balances the music, vocals, and sound effects without having one overpowering the others. Not to mention, the sound effects seamlessly and accurately moves across the soundstage. The track’s atmospherics is also very strong—especially in the quieter moments in the film. On the Theatrical and 1991 track, the Blu-ray’s terrific 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is held over from the 2008 release and is still the go-to track for these editions.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

The Godfather Trilogy

Special Features

The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and The Godfather Part III (1991 Director’s Cut)‘s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc has Francis Ford Coppola’s audio commentary on it. However, you can find the following special features on the bonus disc:

  • New Features
    • Full Circle: Preserving the Godfather
    • Capturing the Corleone’s: Through the Lens of Photographer Steve Shapiro
    • The Godfather: Home Movies
    • Restoration Comparisons
  • Legacy Features
    • The Masterpiece that Almost Wasn’t
    • Godfather World
    • Emulsionar Rescue – Reveal The Godfather
    • …When the Shooting Stopped
    • The Godfather on the Red Carpet
    • Four Short Films on The Godfather
      • GF vs. GF Part II
      • Riffing on the Riffing
      • Cannoli
      • Clemenza
    • The Corleone Family Tree
    • Crime Organization Chart
    • Connie and Carlo’s Wedding Album
    • Behind the Scenes
      • A Look Inside
      • On Location
      • Francis Coppola’s Notebook
      • Music of The Godfather
      • Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting
      • Gordon Willis on Cinematography
      • Storyboards – Godfather Part II
      • Storyboards – Godfather Part III
      • The Godfather Behind the Scenes 1971
    • Additional Scenes
      • 1907-1927
      • 1945
      • 1947-1955
      • 1958-1979
    • Galleries
    • Additional Material
      • James Caan Screen Test
      • The Sopranos
      • Puzo “For the Money”
      • The Godfather Around the World
      • Cosa Nostra & Coppola
    • The Filmmakers
      • Francis Ford Coppola
      • Mario Puzo
      • Gordon Willis
      • Dean Tavoularis
      • Nino Rota
      • Carmine Coppola
    • Godfather Chronology
    • 2008 Credits
    • DVD Credits
Features Assessment

Full Circle examines the restoration work done on the movie, which started in 2007 and has continued off and on since then—especially with the COVID shutdowns. At the same time, Restoration Comparisons displays all of the restoration samples that you saw in Full CircleCapturing the Corleones highlights on-set photographer Steve Schapiro and his work on the movie. It’s an interesting extra that features copious amounts of fantastic-looking photographs. Next, Home Movies is a montage of silent on-set footage shot during principal photography on Staten Island. Also, Nino Rota’s iconic Godfather score plays over the montage.

Both The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t and When the Shooting Stopped are interesting and truthful extras that explore Coppola’s fight with the studio to get the movie made the way he wanted to. Next, Godfather World examines the film’s impact on American pop culture. Emulsional Rescue takes a look at the original restoration work done on the films.

The Godfather on the Red Carpet isn’t the kind of feature that you think it is. Instead of footage from the red carpet premiere of Godfather, the extra is from the red carpet premiere of Cloverfield where various interviewees talk about their love of the films. Four Short Films on The Godfather are four quick films split into varying topics—such as all the quotable lines from the flicks and the comparison between the first two films. Behind the Scenes is a meaty set of featurettes that examines different parts of the film’s production.

Finally, you’ll find 35 additional scenes, many of which were used in The Godfather Saga, which combines the three movies into one. Rounding out the bonus features, you’ll find text pieces, trailers, photo galleries, random footage, a family tree to help you keep track of who’s who, and a timeline of the trilogy.

Special Features Rating: 5/5 atoms


Overall, The Godfather Trilogy is a must-have collection for fans of The Godfather. The Ultra HD release of the films is some of the best that Paramount has put out there. At the same time, the audio presentation and special features are equally fantastic as well.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

The Godfather Trilogy hits stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on March 22nd.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Paramount Home Entertainment.

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