After a long and arduous wait, “The Godfather” trilogy has finally arrived on DVD. One would think with the extensive fan anticipation and the caliber of these films, Paramount would have set out to impress film aficionados with a definitive release of the Academy award-winning series. Sadly this is not the case.

Paul Wong
Use the Force Luke … oops … wrong film.<br><br>Courtesy of Paramount

From the famous opening scene in Don Corleone”s dim office, flashes of little white specks appear on screen. Excuse me, but what the hell is dust doing on my print of “The Godfather?” I thought I just bought a set of DVDs, but what I”m looking at reminds me of my VHS copy of “Metropolis.” Gordon Willis” renowned low-key cinematography is unjustly marred by the problematic image quality. While older classics such as the recently released “Citizen Kane” and “Snow White” underwent extensive restorations prior to their DVD release, for some reason or another (read: Money) “The Godfather” did not go through the same process. Some may argue the deficiencies of the image enhance the aged feel of the Corleone crime saga, most will wonder when a remastered version of the box set will be released.

Wait, it gets better. “The Godfather Part II,” arguably as good, if not better than its predecessor, is presented in all its 200-minute glory over two discs. That”s right, you have to switch discs in the middle of the movie. Sweet, make the viewer get off the couch and replace discs because you corporate suits are too damn cheap to put the film on one longer disc.

Knowing the mass public in their right mind would never buy “Godfather Part III,” Coppola decided it would be best (financially) to release them as a set and not offer the discs individually. Sorry folks, whether you like it or not the deplorable film will be sitting on your shelf right next to two cinematic masterpieces. Hey Francis, why don”t you cast your daughter in a leading role while you”re at it? Oh wait.

Audiophiles may cringe or applaud the newly created surround sound for all three films. The 5.1 audio mix is rather subtle and subdued, appropriate considering the context of the stories. Those wanting the original nostalgic mono track will be upset to find it quietly ommited from the list of options.

While there are major problems with the set, Coppola has included several hours of bonus material from each of the films, exploring all aspects of the filmmaking process. Storyboards, featurettes, galleries and a documentary are just part of the wealth of goodies. Previously unavailable deleted scenes highlight the fifth disc of the package, arranged chronologically over the lifetime of the Corleone family.

Keeping up the trend of other prominent directors, Francis Ford Coppola recorded an audio commentary for each piece of the epic trilogy for the DVD collection. The legendary director has a lot to say, but the sheer length of the films makes it difficult to listen to his humdrum voice for such a lengthy duration.

Paramount proves yet again why it is the worst of the major studios when it comes to DVD. While other companies move forth with inventive presentation and optimum picture and sound, Paramount seems content to go half-ass with the growing technology. Ignore this release and pick up a copy of “Citizen Kane,” unlike this set you will not be disappointed. I want my $80 back.

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