The Many Saints of Newark Review

by Murray

The Many Saints of Newark Review

Feels like fan fiction.

The Many Saints of Newark Review

Feels like fan fiction.

Fourteen years of waiting, and we finally have more from The Sopranos. A show that captivated me on a level that no other show has done before or since. I’ve rewatched the entire series a total of five times. That’s not including any of the random episodes I’ve watched over the years. What I’m trying to say is, I love that show. For me, it’s the most incredible show I’ve ever seen. I’ve come to realize I think about that show more than I do anything else in the entertainment world. Tony Soprano is the most interesting character I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Something that couldn’t have happened without the brilliant acting of James Gandolfini.

The Many Saints of Newark is the story of Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), mentor of Tony Soprano, father of Christopher Moltisanti. I use the term story lightly. I don’t feel like there is much of a story here at all. There is a beginning and no end. There is almost no character development, and the little that is there serves practically no purpose in the grand scheme of the film.

While this movie is about Dickie Moltisanti, the trailers make it seem like it’s about the rise of Tony Soprano. What I was not expecting was the story of Harold McBrayer (Leslie Odom Jr.). He starts as one of Dickies runners and, over time, decides to go into business for himself. After growing tired of his poor treatment due to his color, he decides to take the business that Dickie is doing in the black neighborhoods. Inevitably this starts a war between them that culminates in a shoot-out that is easily the highlight of this movie.

The rest of the movie is both a treat and a disaster for Sopranos fans. Seeing the younger versions of the characters we had grown familiar with seemed like a double edge sword. On the one hand, you have a terrific performance with Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, and on the other, you had what seemed like terrible SNL impressions. Silvio Dante (John Magaro) is by far the worst of the bunch. He comes off almost effeminate at times. Something I never observed with the character as we know him from The Sopranos.

When it comes to pulling off the roll, the elephant in the room is Michael Gandolfini as Tony Soprano. I would have to think James Gandolfini would be proud. While there are moments I questioned, they are few and far between. My favorite scene with Tony is a conversation between him and his teacher. The way he spoke and his facial expressions mirrored an adult Tony Soprano.

Overall, the movie was nothing but reenactments of stories from the Sopranos television show. While it was somewhat entertaining to see these scenes acted out. Many of them had almost no purpose in the movie. Some even felt shoe-horned into the film. A scene where Johnny Soprano (Jon Bernthal) puts a bullet through his wife’s beehive hairdo is a perfect example. They could only get it to fit into the film by changing aspects of the original story. The story from the television show had Junior Soprano with them, and here they’ve changed it to Dickie riding along.

The Many Saints of Newark doesn’t feel like a movie. It felt like a pilot for a television show. The plotlines and character development feel only halfway fleshed out. This whole movie just screamed to be a series or at the very least a mini-series. After watching this, I still have no clue who Dickie is or why he was such a big deal.

(NEXT PARAGRAPH HAS SPOILERS FOR NON-SOPRANOS FANS)

It’s no surprise that Dickie gets murdered. The mystery has always been who killed him. Here they try and throw a twist at you. A twist that I thought does nothing for the movie or Sopranos lore. It’s not something they ever explore in the television show, and as with many things in this movie, it serves no purpose.

Soprano fans may get a kick out of seeing some of the stories played out and catching all the callbacks. I enjoyed things such as Junior’s varsity athlete comment and Paulie taking care of his fingernails. In my opinion, it ultimately fails as a movie. It didn’t feel complete. I get that David Chase said he might write a sequel, but that’s a poor excuse for not having a fully developed movie. The film stands in the shadows of The Sopranos, and that is where it belongs. Even the worst episode of the television show eclipses this movie. Even at its best, the film feels like fan fiction.

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5
BAD

Good

  • Vera Farmiga Acting
  • Alessandro Nivola Acting

Bad

  • John Magaro doesn't work as Silvio Dante
  • Story Feels Half Baked
  • Still Know Very Little About Dickie Moltisanti
  • Felt Like Extra Long Series Pilot
Many Saints
5
BAD

Good

  • Vera Farmiga Acting
  • Alessandro Nivola Acting

Bad

  • John Magaro doesn't work as Silvio Dante
  • Story Feels Half Baked
  • Still Know Very Little About Dickie Moltisanti
  • Felt Like Extra Long Series Pilot
Many Saints
5
BAD

Good

  • Vera Farmiga Acting
  • Alessandro Nivola Acting

Bad

  • John Magaro doesn't work as Silvio Dante
  • Story Feels Half Baked
  • Still Know Very Little About Dickie Moltisanti
  • Felt Like Extra Long Series Pilot