The Many Saints of Newark review: The Sopranos prequel movie is mostly for fans

Every prequel is really a sequel — and that’s especially true of Newark’s Many Saints, a movie advertised as “A Sopranos Story.” The film, releasing simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, is set in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the same world as The SopranosThe television drama which helped make HBO an influential cultural force, titled. This film is set decades ago The Sopranos, but it likely wouldn’t have existed without the TV series. And while its story stands alone, it’s primarily aimed at the show’s fans, rehashing the ideas and themes that writer-producer David Chase explored over the course of six seasons. It’s as much an epilogue to the show as a prologue.

So, whether There are many saints works as a movie will likely depend on viewers’ level of investment in The SopranosThe. It’s a polished, entertaining film, but a lot of its meaning derives from how much the audience cares about a handful of TV characters they may or may not already know.

For those who’ve never seen an episode of the show, Newark’s Many SaintsIt will be difficult to tell a compelling story about the non-fictional characters without appearing overstuffed or unfocused.Sopranos characters: Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), a charismatic New Jersey mobster trying to escape the shadow of his domineering father “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti (Ray Liotta). Dickie struggles to balance his love for Giuseppina, an Italian immigrant, and other obligations, including his family’s organized crime and family.

Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti smirks from the dinner table in The Many Saints of Newark

Photo by Warner Bros./New Line Cinema

The Sopranos, Dickie is a distant legend, remembered as the long-dead father of the next-generation hoodlum Christopher Moltisanti (played by Michael Imperioli, who also narrates this film) and a hero to his nephew Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who becomes Christopher’s boss and mentor. Newark’s Many Saints shows Dickie helping Tony (Michael Gandolfini, James’ son), but it’s more about Dickie striving to be a better person than the crooks who came before him. In that spirit, Dickie works closely with Harold McBrayer Jr. (Leslie Odom Jr.), an African gangster who his racist Italian-American counterparts deeply distrust.

About the first part of the movie is set in 1967. The movie focuses on Harold’s relationship with Chase. He weighs whether or not to break away from the Italians, as well as the possibilities of running his own crew. Chase and Alan Taylor, the director, contrast the conservatism of the Mafia soldiers (who still wear suits, listen to Frank Sinatra) with the evolving culture that is home to acid rock, political radicalism, and the culture surrounding them. In 1967 Newark, tensions flared and led to the riots which broke down the relationship between Harold Dickie.

Chase stated that Chase was the original inventor of Newark’s Many Saints predate The SopranosHe knew that the Newark riots were his inspiration and that he wanted to film a movie about it. That idea was eventually incorporated into the movie. Sopranos project, once he became comfortable with the notion of revisiting those characters — and the notion that a SopranosPrequels are easier to market than original historical dramas.

But it is not. There are many saints’ second half, set around 1972, the themes of racial tension and social change start to fade, as Chase and company give more screen time to the teenage Tony, his abrasive mother Livia (Vera Farmiga), and his brutish father Johnny (Jon Bernthal). Any newcomers will find this the most interesting part of their journey. The SopranosYou might get confused as Harold becomes less important and the story moves to the relationship of Tony and Dickie. This is really a prequel to the story, which explains how Tony Soprano, the anxious-prone, nostalgic-prone mafioso, became what he is today on television.

Cast members of The Many Saints of Newark gather in a doorway, with Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti in front

Warner Bros.

Chase offers plenty of options to help you achieve that goal. SopranosIt’s a fan service. The younger versions of most of the show’s major characters appear, played by actors essentially imitating the originals. (Most successful: Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano, capturing the essence of Dominic Chianese’s Junior performance, playing a man who manipulates people from the sidelines by constantly complaining.) It is littered with a lot of unnecessary dialogue. SopranosMany Easter eggs are important in New Jersey’s choice of location.

You are absolutely right! Newark’s Many Saints More like two Sopranos It’s more of a flashback episode jigsaw than a movie. But what ultimately matters most is that they’re GoodFlashback episodes

Chase’s time away from this franchise hasn’t dulled his ability to write snappy dialogue for these mobsters and their families, nor has it sapped his grasp of fine detail. The film has a lot of quirky moments. Sopranos-esque moments, like one criminal giving another a stolen TV to pay off a $300 debt, or Dickie casually telling Tony that he didn’t know that Jews were around in the Middle Ages, and Tony replying, “Well… the Bible…”

And while Chase doesn’t do proper justice to the Newark race-relations story he may have initially set out to tell, he and Konner and Taylor do a remarkable job of cutting to the heart of one of The Sopranos’ main themes: the sense that a golden age has passed. Two main themes are recurrent in Newark’s Many SaintsThese include big Italian dinners that bring together old friends around tasty-looking food platters. Funerals are where these same friends bid farewell the ones who provided those meals.

The movie’s initial contrast is between Dickie, mired in a mob tradition he finds exhausting, and Harold, who thinks more freely. Later on, it is Tony, who regards his uncle like a wizard who can do anything he asks, and Dickie (who pays a high price) who makes the difference. All through, Newark’s Many SaintsIt is clear what the cost of living this lifestyle actually looks like.

Alessandro Nivola and Leslie Odom Jr. talk with each other in The Many Saints of Newark

Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros.

His 1995 essay-film Martin Scorsese’s Personal Journey Through American Movies, Scorsese talks about the concept of the old Hollywood studio filmmakers doing a little “smuggling” in their work: artists like Jacques Tourneur, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann and Douglas Sirk, who delivered well-crafted, audience-friendly genre films that also featured some sly commentary on human nature, social order, and American materialism.

Chase may not be considered a smuggler. The SopranosThe show was richly thematic, and it showed a willingness to explore its literary and cinematic roots. With Newark’s Many Saints, he does take something he knew the people wanted — more Sopranos — and uses it as an excuse to roam through his own memories and preoccupations. They may not satisfy. SopranosNon-fans and fans alike, though for very different reasons. The film is alive, despite its imperfections and lumpiness.

Newark’s Many Saints The film is currently in theatres and available for streaming via HBO Max.

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