REVIEW: The Many Saints of Newark (2021): The Sopranos from the beginning.


The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

The prequel to one of the best television shows ever made. Brought to the screen by the original producer and creator of The Sopranos, David Chase. We get to see the story of Tony Soprano, the main protagonist of the original series grow up in Newark, New Jersey in the 60s and 70s.

I don't think we see any of the original cast except for the voice of Christopher Moltisanti played by Michael Imperioli. He does some voice over work in this outing. The first entry since The Sopranos ended in 2007. We also see James Gandolfini's son play the younger version of himself, a teenage Tony Soprano. A real treat to witness and this must have been a special role to play for him.

A young Tony Soprano and Dickie Moltasanti.

This tale focuses on Dickie Moltasanti, an often mentioned name in the series but never seen. We see the entire Soprano crew in their younger years doing what they do best. The series does not tell us that much about Tony Soprano as one would assume. This is a tale of the family and the backdrop of Tony's upbringing.

Those who happened to not watch the television series can watch this film without needing the full backstory but loses a lot of its luster. We see the start of Tony's distaste for his mother Livia and her general demeanor that she exudes throughout her lifetime. She was played by an almost unrecognizable Vera Farmiga with a prosthetic nose on. Mostly everyone appears from the series in their full younger glory.

There are a lot of characters in this film.

Always nice to see Ray Liotta in these types of roles and a nice surprise with Cory Stoll as Junior Soprano too. I swear I had some flashbacks to Goodfellas in certain scenes with Liotta here. A huge loss to film with his recent passing, he will be greatly missed.

Sadly there are points that often took me out of the film. The actors seemed to be portraying a caricature of the original characters. The actor portraying Silvio Dante as played by the original actor Steven Van Zandt was extremely hammy and completely overacting the part. A huge turnoff for me in particular. These characters had some quirks and mannerisms but this went completely overboard.

You're going places kid and we see that outcome in The Sopranos series.

The movie sets itself up as a telling of the circumstances of Tony's rise to power. This never felt like a film directly about him. Perhaps this wasn't the impetus of the film? I'm not sure what the purpose was for this in the grand scheme of things. The film work was competently shot and engaging for the most part.

Was it worth the wait or were people clamoring for this? I also cannot answer this. I ran across this film by happenstance and was curious. Who can pass up a story written by the original writer and involving The Sopranos? I couldn't.

Everybody all together.

At the end of the day this was an entry in a genre defining moment of television history. Prequels are very hard to do and especially do right. This is passable but also forgettable for me. I honestly believe too much time has passed and there are certain properties that should be left alone. This is one of them.

I have a sneaking suspicion Rotten Tomatoes will be agreeing with me on this one. Let's see. 71% critics rating and a 59% audience rating. For me, a 6 all day long and the audience appears to be on my side this time. This is worth a watch for the curious fan of the show, otherwise skip it like everyone else.

According to Box Office Mojo this was indeed released theatrically and has made a little under 7 million with an opening of less than 5 million. This is not a good sign. I hope this should tell the producers that a sequel is not required. I wonder if they'll listen or make another one?

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