From Owen Gleiberman‘s recently posted Variety review of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone: “Here’s the news and the ever-so-slight scandal: It’s the same damn movie. I’m not exaggerating; it really is.
“The one impactful change is the new opening scene. The film now begins with the let’s-make-a-deal negotiation between Michael and Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly), the weasel who heads the Vatican Bank, in which Michael agrees to pay the Vatican $600 million in exchange for the right to become the controlling shareholder of Immobiliare, an international real-estate consortium. Taking that scene, which previously came about half an hour in, and moving it to the front gives the film a kick-start, and it clarifies the underworld-meets-Catholic-Church corporate-business plot that didn’t actually need clarifying.
“Once that happens, the movie proceeds along in exactly the same way it did before, except that Coppola has made about five minutes’ worth of trims. [Plus there’s] a new ending, in which Michael is seated in that same chair in the sun [by his Italian villa], only now he doesn’t die.”