Reviews are coming in for The Many Saints Of Newark, The Sopranos prequel film that is one of the year’s most anticipated films, revisiting David Chase’s Sopranos universe since the iconic HBO series ended in 2007.
The film stars Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, the father of the show’s Christopher Moltisanti (portrayed by Michael Imperioli, who serves as a narrator for the movie) and Michael Gandolfini, who plays the younger incarnation of his late father James’s character Tony Soprano.
Other established characters in the cast include Jon Bernthal as Johnny Boy Soprano, Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, Cory Stoll as Junior Soprano, Billy Magnussen as Paulie Walnuts and John Magaro as Silvio Dante. New characters introduced in the film include Leslie Odom Jr. as Harold McBrayer and Ray Liotta as Hollywood Dick Moltisanti.
Reviews are coming in for The Many Saints Of Newark, The Sopranos prequel film that is one of the year’s most anticipated films, revisiting David Chase’s Sopranos universe since the iconic HBO series ended in 2007
The film as of Tuesday had tallied an 80 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews from professional film critics.
Reviews for the movie indicate a strong standalone film that might fall short in the nostalgia department, and development of the nascent mob boss Tony.
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman dubbed the motion picture ‘a sharp, lively, and engrossing movie … that provides a fascinating running commentary on how the world of “The Sopranos” came into being.
‘Yet we can’t help but notice the difference in tone. These characters are suitably gripping back-door Mob types who gather in the private rooms of restaurants to chow down on giant chops of seasoned meat, but they’re not fun in the same way. They’re more like a club of rageaholics.’
The ensemble cast of the New Jersey based film is seen in a dining room
Michael Gandolfini plays the younger incarnation of his late father James’s character Tony Soprano
John Magaro (L) plays Silvio Dante, and Billy Magnussen plays Paulie Walnuts in the film
Gleiberman said the film fell short in planting seeds of the Tony character.
‘We want it to show us how Tony Soprano, growing up as a “normal” Italian-American teenager, slipped onto the road that would lead him to become a gangster sociopath,’ he said. ‘We need to see him take that first step. The movie may have convinced itself that it shows it to you.
‘But sorry, watching The Many Saints of Newark, this Sopranos fan found Tony’s “evolution” toward the dark side to be even less convincing than Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader at the climax of Revenge of the Sith.’
Nick Schager of The Daily Beast said ‘there’s magic missing from this encore effort, in large part because it never provides a pressing justification for its own existence’ in The Sopranos universe.
He added: ‘There’s nothing urgent driving The Many Saints of Newark, which – as directed by series vet Alan Taylor – segues between domestic incidents, gruesome hits and stand-alone scenes that allow accomplished actors to do their best pantomimes as well-known Sopranos figures.’
Schager wrote that some moments of the movie ‘strive to provide us with a deeper understanding of the future’ Tony Soprano, ‘they come across as random notes that are only loosely related to his eventual hang-ups.
‘Consigning Tony himself to the sidelines for much of this film doesn’t help in that regard, nor does Michael Gandolfini’s featureless turn.’
The film stars Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, the father of the show’s Christopher Moltisanti
Ray Liotta of Goodfellas fame provides a key presence in the film
Deadline’s Todd McCarthy drew parallels between the prequel and the HBO series, writing, ‘Even if you’ve watched The Sopranos in its entirely and paid close attention, it takes some real concentration to confidently figure out who’s who here, to connect characters we’re used to as older people now a good generation younger.’
He added that ‘a cheat sheet could be helpful at times.’
McCarthy noted the contrast between the crime family in the late 60s/early 70s timeframe in which the motion picture is set.
‘When we first met all these characters 22 years ago, they already had it made; with the ruthless uphill battle having been won, the Sopranos had moved to suburbia, after which it became a matter of keeping and consolidating their power,’ he said.
McCarthy continued: ‘In the television series, the characters flew off the handle and became reckless at times, but it can’t compare with the wild and crazy methods they perpetrated when they were striving and looking to make their mark. In Saints, it’s shocking to see what they were willing to do to their own neighborhood.’
The Wrap’s Dan Callahan said that ‘the new characters are all one-dimensional, and we learn nothing new about the old characters from the series.’
Callahan noted, ‘The art that lasts is the art that stimulates people to ask questions. That’s why The Sopranos is still alive and still troubling and still a major accomplishment, and this prequel just proves it needs nothing further added to it.’
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter noted that ‘Chase’s extraordinary gift for complex character and story evolutions over long arcs can’t possibly pack the same power in a condensed two-hour format,’ as ‘part of what made The Sopranos such sensational TV drama was the extent to which it made us care about reprehensible people, and there just isn’t the breathing space or depth of character here to generate that kind of emotional investment.’
The film is set to debut in theaters and begin streaming October 1.
Michael Imperioli and the late James Gandolfini, whose Sopranos characters are involved in the new film, were snapped in 2005 on the series