I’m one of those people who thinks that # 1 is much better than # 2. # 1 is the story of a good man who slowly transforms into a bad man. # 2 just dances around the edges of that, and sets up a pattern of violence which becomes quite predictable by # 3. The only real surprise in # 3 is that not everybody who you’d think would die, actually does die.
The other big problem with # 3 was casting–Coppola didn’t want to pay as much as Robert De Niro was demanding, so he replaced him with some new guy, and cast his daughter in a major role for which she just wasn’t good enough. I still enjoyed some of it, though, especially the subplot involving the Catholic Church. Some critic said the boxed set of all three movies should really be considered two movies, plus one DVD “extra” (the third movie).