A scene from the film Warner Bros. “Many Saints of Newark.”
Who Created Tony Soprano? This is the question that Many of Newark’s Saints strive to answer within two hours of viewing.
However, those waiting for the story of the boy’s rise to the top of North Jersey’s most powerful criminal organization may be disappointed. Tony, played by the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael, plays a supporting role in the film. Instead, it’s Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), Tony’s bandit uncle, who sits at the center of Many Saints.
An artistic prequel to the popular and beloved HBO TV series The Sopranos is opening at the cemetery. As the camera zooms in on Christopher Moltisanti’s tombstone, viewers hear the voice of actor Michael Imperioli, who played the character for six seasons. He tells a film from the grave.
Fans of the show know that Christopher was hit by Tony last season. As a narrator, he tells the story of his father, Dicky, his grandfather “Hollywood Dick,” and his grandfather’s young Italian fiancee, Giuseppina, during a time period that spans the late 60s and early 70s.
Dicky struggles to cope with his professional and personal responsibilities, namely, running a criminal enterprise, juggling romantic ties with his father’s new wife. He also faced the betrayal of Harold McBryer (Leslie Odom Jr.), his former muscle radicalized by the 1967 Newark riots, who decided that Italians should not be in complete control of the city.
Written by David Chase, creator of the original show and showrunner, “Many of Newark’s Saints” captures the spirit of the original material but falls short of its roots, critics say.
“Perhaps the greatest television show in history has inevitably spawned a full-length prequel that is somewhat disappointing: it’s watchable but oddly stupid with a cunning narrative that adds little,” wrote Peter Bradshaw in his review of the film for The Guardian.
The film is currently rated 77% Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes out of 61 reviews.
Here’s what critics thought of Newark’s Many Saints ahead of its release in theaters and on HBO’s Max Friday:
“Those who yearn for a Corleone-style rise to power will be disappointed to learn that Tony is playing a rather minor role in Newark’s Many Saints,” AA wrote. Dowd in his film review for the AV Club. “In fact, for a full hour, he’s practically the size of Jake Lloyd: a boy watching from the side of the criminal empire in Jersey in the late 1960s.”
His mention of Jake Lloyd is a reference to the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, in which the child actor played the main character in the franchise (in this case, Anakin Skywalker, also known as Darth Vader), and spent most of the film watching for other characters. with a small agency of its own.
Many of the things that made The Sopranos a breakout hit are missing from Many Saints of Newark, Dowd said.
“Where is the prickly psychology, the breathlessly funny midnight black humor, the dimension that Chase has brought to every corner of the corroding immoral criminal empire?” he asked. “Two decades ago, The Sopranos proved that something truly novelistic can be created on the small screen, helping usher in the supposed golden age of television, using format freedom to tell large stories – and develop characters – in unfamiliar ways. maybe on the big screen. “
“The irony of Many Newark Saints is that it seems to be repeating it again: The Sopranos have demonstrated that gangster movie imagery can be brought to life through serialized storytelling by filtering it back in a two-hour format. the format leaves only … trails, ”he said.
Still from the movie “Many of Newark’s Saints.”
While “Many of Newark’s Saints” may be the favorite for Sopranos fans, Linda Marrick of The London Economic says the film “has something for everyone.”
Marrick praised the performances of Gandolfini, who fills his father’s big shoes, and Nivola as “electrifying.”
“With a fair amount of self-reflection and some pretty funny Easter eggs designed to please the show’s fans, the film does exactly what was expected of it, even if it sometimes loses itself a little in the second act,” she wrote in her book. film review. “A truly addictive film in which you will want to break out of the Sopranos boxes and watch it all again from the very beginning.”
While the story of the Moltisanti family is interesting, Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wonders if Newark’s Many Saints won by focusing more on Tony Sopranos’ parents.
Livia, Tony’s mother, played by Vera Farmiga, was the main antagonist of the television series, even going as far as trying to kill her own son.
“We hear about the psychological problems of Libya, as well as the problems of Tony (Tony’s school counselor, wittily reproducing the role of therapist), but Farmiga certainly had to play a much more important role,” Bradshaw said.
He praised Farmiga’s ability to recreate the mannerisms that Nancy Marchand first brought to life on the show.
“There is a magnificently unfortunate moment when, driven to insanity by his wife, Johnny subjects her to a staged execution in the car, firing a pistol in her ear,” explained Bradshaw. “But Livia remains completely motionless, staring at her inexorably, although her handkerchief is smoking, and Johnny is forced to mutter:” Don’t look at me like that. “
“There are many sinners here: in the next film, I want the lead role of Tony’s mother – the worst Libya since me, Claudius,” he said.
Michael Gandolfini plays Tony Soprano in Newark’s Many Saints.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety, like many critics, praised Michael Gandolfini, who portrays Tony Soprano’s father figure.
He “blends with his actor father in a supernatural and dramatic relationship,” Gleiberman wrote in his film review. “Front teeth that protrude slightly, creating a subconscious lisp, a kind of begging moon-faced surprise: we are looking at this long-haired, but still wide-open child, who looks like a sharper John Cusack, and he is exactly what you would imagine that Tony Soprano will be a New Jersey outlaw sandwiched between his painfully dysfunctional family and the culture of free rock and roll. “
Yet Many of Newark’s Saints did not quite live up to Gleiberman’s expectations.
“What we want most from this film, which comes out 14 years after the end of The Sopranos, is a sense of revelation,” he wrote. “We want him to show us how Tony Soprano, who grew up as a ‘normal’ Italian-American teenager, slipped onto a path that would lead him to a gangster sociopath. We need to see how he takes that first step. “
“This film doesn’t do that,” he said.
“Watching Newark’s Many Saints, this Sopranos fan found that Tony’s ‘evolution’ towards the dark side was even less convincing than Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader at the climax of Revenge of the Sith,” he wrote. “In the end, I felt like we needed a second prequel, or maybe just an important TV thing: another episode.”