Despite the excellence of the first film, it is my opinion that Godfather part 2 delves deeper into the family, more into the two-toned life that Michael Corleone orchestrates between the family business and his family. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the relationship he cultivates between himself and Hyman Roth (wonderful performance by Lee Strasberg), cementing the old adage that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer. On the surface they are friends, behind closed doors they are co-conspirators, between each other they are close friends and confidants. Beneath it all, in the depths of each man's heart, they are mortal enemies, Corleone ultimately the victor. The whole movie is a mounting tension between the two, reaching heights as when Hyman fumes over the death of a great man, Mo Green, whom Corleone had killed in the first film. In the end, Hyman becomes just another victim, mowed down by a Corleone footman.
The court proceedings are shot in a way that transmits the claustrophobia and morose tedium of the justice system back in the days of McCarthyism (the eras align somewhat, both post-war 1950's). The court is crowded, people line the walls, journalists write furiously in the heat of the courtroom, in the background, people walk in and out of the proceedings like is was a Wal-Mart. People speak into microphones, their voices drone in the hollow, sparse room.
And then Michael Corleone has his own brother killed. Many would say this is when Michael gives himself over fully to the title "Godfather." This is actually one of the central themes of the first film, when exactly does Michael become Godfather? The first film has a wonderful moment where, in the family office (the predominant colors are brown and orange), Brando gets out of his chair, moves over to the side of the office, Michael gets up from the couch on the other side, moves to the desk, and sits in his fathers chair. This is when Michael becomes Godfather in my opinion, but Coppola is good enough to give us more moments that question exactly, "When?"
Coppola's film legacy lies within this box set, as does Pacino's, Brando's, Caan's, and Duvall's. DeNiro managed to go off and do other things, his legacy lies somewhere else, but to the aforementioned actors, they have never done another film or role as well as what they did in the Godfather films. You don't realize it until you pop in the bonus disc, but composer's Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola also put their legacy into this film with the music. Who can forget Rota's seven-note theme that opens and closes the film? Carmine Coppola adds a more Italiano flavor to the music in the flashback scenes featuring DeNiro as a young Vito Andolini (a.k.a. Don Corleone in the first film).
There's so much to go over, the least of which is film #3. But the contents of the other three discs justifies the cost, which could actually be higher. But really, this collection is an offer you can't refuse, or do I have to put a gun to your head??