The Many Saints of Newark; Grade: B-
The Many Saints of Newark is a prequel to the iconic television series The Sopranos. The film has majority of your favorite characters and what went on before the reign of Uncle Junior and what inspired the fire and endure passion of Tony Soprano becoming a Mob Boss.
The Sopranos was my fathers religion, he has watched the entire series over for a good five to six times. My father claims The Sopranos is the greatest television series he’s ever watched in his entire life and sometimes he would treat characters from that show, as they were his own family. Why do I claim this?! When the lead actor James Gandolfini whom played Tony Soprano passed in 2013, my father cried. This is not to mock my father in anyway it’s ok to cry, even if it’s for celebrities you’ve never met in person. I know how much The Sopranos meant to my father, I also understand how much James Gandolfini meant to a lot of people as heck I was sadden by his passing just because I started getting into his movies he was in, as there was potential in him being an Oscar winner someday. Not only was James a pretty good actor, but he was also a beloved guy off screen. Wish James was with us today, but just know my father loved ya and appreciate you being apart of his favorite show so much.
I tried to watched the entire series of The Sopranos before going to see The Many Saints of Newark, but since it was leaving theaters near my area… I had to go ahead and see it, I left off on Season 4 Episode 8. Since it was a prequel I didn’t have any fear it would spoil the show for me, unfortunately it did expose one characters faith in the show and how it was done so was kind of bummed out there, but since he had a drug problem and the feds were now involved by the fault by his woman… Figured it was bound to happen.
The Many Saints of Newark you could say broke even with fans of the show. I felt the reason behind it was because fans of the show was hoping this film, would be completely centered on Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) as a young man and nothing else. The Many Saints of Newark does feature Tony Soprano as a child and does have him doing stuff in this film, however it’s not totally on him. The film is more centered on the ring leader Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), whom happens to be Tony’s Uncle whom helped influenced him in wanting to join the mob in the first place. The film is also centered around the riots going on in New Jersey, as there was a dispute between the Italians and the African Americans. So I can understand why some fans weren’t on board with The Many Saints of Newark, I haven’t watched the trailers so I’m not sure how it was marketed.
For a prequel: The Many Saints of Newark actually satisfied me, as I felt this was a nice beginning into The Sopranos Universe. I felt the backstory of what went on before The Sopranos was actually cool and even engaging as well. I would say what differs from The Many Saints of Newark compared to The Sopranos, would be it’s less involved with the mental side of things. I believe what made The Sopranos great is it was more than just the typical mafia shlock, it was actually a well written character study on a man whom is going through a mental toll, carrying himself in an organization that is chaotic, violent, and inhumane while also complications with his past. You can even say people could relate to the characters and situations in the show the characters themselves were going through… Sure they may of never killed nobody or witness a body being sliced and placed in a meat grinder, however the feelings Tony goes through that goes way back to his past felt very meaningful that hit hard with many viewers.
With The Many Saints of Newark: It does have a couple solid moments that does reminisce what The Sopranos brought, I would say it especially comes from the prison scenes as Sally (Ray Liotta) speaking some wisdom. But The Many Saints of Newark interest is on mainly what goes on in the narrative. The film is steadily paced, for a couple hour run time it surely didn’t felt like it, it went by very smoothly. The way it builds it’s world and the characters, I felt for the most part I was thoroughly enjoying it. I think on pure entertainment value it’s on par with The Sopranos, there’s are some exciting moments. On a storyline I would say The Sopranos is more superior as also it’s more impactful than this film.
I enjoyed the cast of this film, I felt everyone did a solid job. I felt Vera Farmiga was the highlight of this entire film for me playing Tony’s mother, she was lights out in this role and played an accurate portrayal of one who would be the original mother from the show. Vera literally disappears not only by the great makeup work, but in this performance alone especially as you can hardly recognize her.
I think one complaint many people are going to have with this film, is the twin ordeal… It’s goofy. However for a prequel based around a Television Series, I thought the whole thing was perfectly fine even if it’s goofy. Especially given the fact the previous twin whom died early on is less impactful, compared to the twin whom we later on meet.
My biggest complaint with The Many Saints of Newark… It needed to be longer. How longer are we talking?! A good hour longer. As the film cuts to black… I raised my hands up in the air, as I said out loud, “THAT’S IT?!?!” Like the film had me going, thinking we’re on course for an epic third act… But then it cuts to black as I was bummed out. I’m not sure why it ended like that, could it be we’re in for another film or possibly a spinoff prequel series?! I know a three hour prequel sounds ridiculous, but if there was no plan to continue on this story further… You have to at least give us an epic farewell to the property. Regardless: I wanted more.
Overall, The Many Saints of Newark was a nice beginning following The Sopranos series. I recommend seeing this film, I feel you should finish the show first before watching it so you won’t get partially spoiled. -Mitch Smietana