The Godfather Trilogy (1972) - The Coppola Restoration [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Thriller
Paramount || R - 549 minutes - $124.99 || September 23, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-10-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Writer(s): Mario Puzo (novel); Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo (screenplay)
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, Sofia Coppola


Theatrical Release Date: March 24, 1972


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentaries
  • The Godfather Family
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Storyboards
  • Additional Scenes/Timeline
  • Galleries
  • The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't
  • Godfather World
  • When the Shooting Stopped
  • Emotional Rescue: Revealing
  • The Godfather on the Red Carpet
  • Four Short Films on The Godfather
  • Family Tree
  • Crime Chart


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (1.77)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

I've included a brief synopsis of each of The Godfather films. For the most part, I believe most people reading this review have probably already seen each film multiple times and would rather know about the Special Features and Picture/Audio Quality. However, I have included a rating for all three films as well as an averaged, final score. Since this was my first time ever seeing the films... I am very happy to say the Blu-ray release looks spectacular and I look forward to more classic films being released on Blu-ray in the near future.

From IMDB:

The Godfather (****½) - The story begins as "Don" Vito Corleone, the head of a New York Mafia "family", oversees his daughter's wedding. His beloved son Michael has just come home from the war, but does not intend to become part of his father's business. Through Michael's life the nature of the family business becomes clear. The business of the family is just like the head of the family, kind and benevolent to those who give respect, but given to ruthless violence whenever anything stands against the good of the family. Don Vito lives his life in the way of the old country, but times are changing and some don't want to follow the old ways and look out for community and "family". An up and coming rival of the Corleone family wants to start selling drugs in New York, and needs the Don's influence to further his plan. The clash of the Don's fading old world values and the new ways will demand a terrible price, especially from Michael, all for the sake of the family.

The Godfather Part II (****½) - The continuing saga of the Corleone crime family tells the story of a young Vito Corleone growing up in Sicily and in 1910s New York; and follows Michael Corleone in the 1950s as he attempts to expand the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba.

The Godfather Part III (****) - In the final installment of the Godfather Trilogy, an aging Don Michael Corleone seeks to legitimize his crime family's interests and remove himself from the violent underworld but is kept back by the ambitions of the young. While he attempts to link the Corleone's finances with the Vatican, Michael must deal with the machinations of a hungrier gangster seeking to upset the existing Mafioso order and a young protégé’s love affair with his daughter.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray release is housed inside of a very nice, thick cardboard slipcover and each disc (four in total) are then housed inside of a Blu-ray amaray case. Also included on the back of the slipcover is a 10 page synopsis book of each film and special feature. This can be removed and put inside the slip cover as well (with a bit of work) otherwise you can let the book stay attached the slip cover.

Discs 1, 2, & 3 (on 50GB Discs):

Commentary with Francis Ford Coppola - Now, these are not new tracks (from the previous 2001 DVD box set release), but they still appear to hold up very well. Everything you could possibly want to know about the films, Coppola goes into. Because of time constraints, I only listed to a small sampling of each, but found what I did listen to be compelling, much like the three films. Obviously a recommended listen.

Disc 4 (25GB Disc):

Now this is the bread and butter of the set. Not only does this include all of the previous 2001 DVD Release materials (in SD), but another hours worth of brand new features (in HD).

First we'll take a look at the original 2001 DVD Release materials (in SD):

The Godfather Family (~74 Minutes) - The bread and butter from the original set is back and its very, very long. Not only do we get numerous cast and crew interviews but one of my favorite things; rehearsals! Yeah, I'm a sucker for those.

Behind the Scenes (~45 Minutes):

- The Godfather Family: A Look Inside - Location - Francis Coppolas Notebook - The Music of The Godfather - Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting - Gordon Willis on Cinematography - The Godfather: Behind the Scenes 1971

Woah! A very exhausted look at a ton of details from all three films. By far my favorite was The Godfather Family and Location; where they go back to where the films were shot at it.

Storyboards (from The Godfather Part II and Part III) - A selection of storyboards that can be viewed. I’ve never been a big fan of storyboards, but for the fans, I'm sure you will love this. This feature was particular slow loading (since you have to click a button to movie forward) in my player.

Additional Scenes/Timeline - This is a collection of a little more than 30 deleted scenes all from different "periods". It appears many of these are alternate takes or TV cuts from what I’ve read.

Also included are Galleries which has tons of archival footage including some of the acceptance speeches (from the Oscars, really this is a must watch!) and numerous other picture galleries including a “Rogues Gallery” and “Wedding Album”. All in all, the original 2001 DVD set was pretty loaded and the new 2008 DVD and Blu-ray set improves on that even more...

All the following are brand new and presented in HD:

The Masterpiece that Almost Wasn't (~30 Minutes) - A really good piece that talks with several high profile people in Hollywood (Lucas, Spielberg) about why the film was made and some people who didn't agree with it...

Godfather World (~12 Minutes) - Another interesting documentary that goes into the affect The Godfather films have had on media since the release. It includes a carousel of commentators like Trey Parker and Robert Evans. Included is a bunch of clips from shows that have spoofed The Godfather films like "The Sopranos", "The Simpson's", "Family Guy" and "South Park" among others. My favorite part would be a clip from Evans short-lived Comedy Central show "Kid Notorious" (which I loved and want on DVD very much).

When the Shooting Stopped (~14 Minutes) - This one feels almost like it was taken from the "Behind the Scenes" feature from the previous DVD release as it just re-tells much of what we've already heard.

Emotional Rescue: Revealing (~20 Minutes) - A very long look at the restoration process of making this Blu-ray (and DVD) release really shine.

The Godfather on the Red Carpet (~5 Minutes) – I don't know what to say about this. It’s pretty embarrassing to watch some of the fresh "young" talent re-create famous Godfather lines. Skip it, please.

Four Short Films on The Godfather (~7 Minutes) - Much like the Red Carpet feature, these are four really lame short films (under 2 minutes). Skip it.

Moving on, we also get an interactive Family Tree type thing and a Crime Chart.

Overall, we get a really nice set of extras any Godfather fan will want to watch over and over again. While most of the new materials feel more like recycled bits, it’s still an extra hour or so worth of material to an already impressive set. Besides maybe a few additional commentary tracks (perhaps by some of the actors), this will probably be the definitive set for the next few years. It’s a shame the Blu-ray set did not get any exclusive new features but the HD extras will surely be enough.

As a final note, a $10 mail-in rebate is also included with the Blu-ray release (if you own the previous DVD release). With that coupon, it makes the price of the box set almost in line with the DVD set (also arriving the same day). So picking up the Blu-ray release is a no brainer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Each film is presented in 1.77:1 (AVC/MPEG-4) on separate 50GB Discs. While I had never seen the films before, I did manage to somehow accumulate the 2001 DVD box set at one point in time and used it to compare the quality of each. Each film looks brand new - where there were scratches and marks in the previous set, the Blu-ray release (for the most part) removes them. Colors look much more vibrant and blacks look very good. Obviously the age of the films has to be taken into account as the first two films are over 30 years old and simply will not look as sharp as a brand new CGI filled release. This "Coppola Restoration" is miles ahead of the previous 2001 DVD release and any fan will be pleased to know they have the best looking versions of each Godfather film for years to come. I don't see how this can be topped.

Paramount presents each Godfather film with a Dolby 5.1 TrueHD track. Sadly, this is the only thing where the box set tends to fall apart just a bit. Even with a TrueHD track, I felt like I was listening to a DVD. While the front speakers sounded great, the rears were rarely used and when they were, felt a bit uneven. Dialog sounded decent at times, though once again, a bit uneven and the volume level tends to fluctuate a bit too much. The Godfather III sounded a bit better; however that film is only 18 years old vs. 30. Still, this is an improvement from the 2001 DVD release of the trilogy.



.::OVERALL::.

The Godfather is a classic film that will be watched for years to come; Part II is just as good as the first, and while some may not like Part III that much, just like the classic line from "The Sopranos", it’s simply "mis-understood". The Blu-ray release takes everything that was great about the 2001 DVD Release and improves upon in it in every single way. Not only do we get improved picture and sound, but we get all the original DVD extras plus another hours worth in HD. This is probably the first Blu-ray title where I can see someone walking into Best Buy, seeing it, and buying their first Blu-ray player. This is mainstream. This will get the normal Joe into the format.