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'The Many Saints of Newark' Review: Is It Better Than The Sopranos?

Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

The Many Saints of Newark is the highly anticipated prequel to the critically acclaimed series The Soprano. It follows the story of young Tony Soprano growing up and how he became the Tony Soprano we all know today. But the movie doesn't focus on young Tony Soprano. It focuses on Dickie Moltisanti.

The Many Saints of Newark focuses more on Newark in the 60s and 70s than it does being a prequel to The Sopranos. Of course the classic characters are there: Silvio, Paulie, Big Pussy, Uncle Junior, Livia, Tony, Janice, etc. but the focus is put on two new characters: Dickie and Harold. Harold is a completely new character to this world. He first starts as an associate to Dickie but by the end becomes an adversary to Dickie. Alessandro Nivola plays the Dickie character very well. He's caught up in wanting to be a good person but doing bad things at the same time. Spoiler alert: he does a plethora of bad things to the people he cares about.

Young Tony Soprano is played by Michael Gandolfini. Gandolfini is following in his legendary dad's footsteps of playing Tony Soprano. Gandolfini does a good job acting but doesn't have the same energy his dad had. It didn't feel like Tony Soprano was on screen except for one scene with his mother Livia. Vera Farmiga was great as Livia. Her mannerisms and voice reminded me of the late great Nancy Marchand, who played Livia in The Sopranos. Corey Stoll who plays Uncle Junior did a great job in his role as well. There's a scene between Uncle Junior and Tony that is a little nod to the series, which the fans will love.

Johnny Soprano is misused in this movie. The character's screen time is limited which is very disappointing because my expectation was we would be seeing a lot of him. The idea of prequel was exciting because I wanted to see what Tony's dad was like but the film disappoints in that aspect. The story disappoints as well. We didn't really get what the movie promised us. We were promised a look at the formative years of Tony Soprano but what we got was a commentary of Newark in the 60s and 70s. Taking real life events and putting it in this fantasy world was a weird choice. Harold is one of the main characters of the film but has no purpose. You think he has a purpose but by the end, his character means nothing. It's disappointing because the film focuses on him prominently but in the end he meant nothing to the story. In the end we didn't get The Sopranos prequel we were promised.

The film is still very enjoyable even with its story issues. The dialogue feels very much like The Sopranos. This made for some great laughs during the film. The film left me wanting more in the sense, we didn't get Tony's full story. If there is another film, I want the focus to be on how Tony rises to the top of his family. I would also want to see Tony's relationship with his father as he rises to power in his family. That was be a true Sopranos story.

Did I expect The Many Saints of Newark to be better than The Sopranos? No, but I expected a movie that honors the series without a need for social commentary. I wasn't given that but I was given a movie that is fun to watch with the characters we all know and love.

What did you think of The Many Saints of Newark? Let us know in the comments.

Rating: 3.5/5

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