I'm on record as believing that the first two Godfather movies are the best films of all time. When The Godfather Part III came out, I didn't think it was necessary, but I was at the theater as soon as it was released, nonetheless. It wasn't as good as the first two, but neither is anything else. Part III is not my favorite movie. But if I'm channel surfing and I see it's on, I usually watch it for awhile, and it's fine, with some memorable scenes. In the end, it didn't need to be as good as its predecessors ... it was, and is, enough that it didn't besmirch the legacy.
In that way, GF III is something of a standard bearer for a work that returns from a greater work after a longish period of time. When something like that comes out, I just hope it doesn't besmirch the legacy.
Deadwood: The Movie has been rumored ever since the series was first cancelled in 2006. HBO supposedly came to an agreement with the show's creator, David Milch, wherein two TV movies would be produced to provide closure (the final episode of the series wasn't meant to be final, although it worked passably for that function). But those movies never got made. Until July of last year, when HBO approved one movie, which was filmed at the end of 2018.
Remarkably, given the long wait between projects, almost the entire original cast returned. A couple of characters had died during the show's run, and a couple of actors died in the interim. But other than Titus Welliver, who was making the latest season of Bosch and couldn't make his schedule work, everyone else was there, even Garret Dillahunt, who played Wild Bill Hickok's murderer in Season One, and then returned in an entirely different role for Season Two (in the movie, he had a cameo as "Drunk Number Two"). The actors have all aged, which was perfect, but the characters had aged, too ... it took place roughly ten years after the end of the previous season.
As the movie began, I was thinking one thing: I hope it doesn't besmirch the legacy.
I needn't have worried. Although Milch is now suffering from Alzheimer's, he got the script written, with the unique Deadwood Dialogue intact. That in itself is enough to make the movie honest to its legacy.
Various characters' stories come to a believable conclusion, while others are properly left up in the air. Nothing feels out of place ... if the movie is more a pretty-good episode than an all-time classic, it is still of a piece with what came before. And it rewards those of us who have waited so long. The last half-hour or so even brings a few tears to our eyes, although Milch has never been one to overdo the sentimentality. When Trixie, with Al on his deathbed, begins the Lord's Prayer with "Our Father, which art in heaven", Al's last words are "Let him fucking stay there".
Here is what I wrote after Season One: "Deadwood Season Finale". A list of great lines from Season Two: "Best Lines". And what I wrote after Season Three ... this is a pretty good piece, if I do say so myself: "Oh Mary Don't You Weep".