Michael Gandolfini had to redo his takes many times due to his portrayal of Young Tony Soprano being too close to his father's version of the character. In the film's timeline, Tony Soprano had not become a feared gangster yet.
Alessandro Nivola had no clue he was playing the lead role until filming began as he only received portions of the script.
The film is narrated by Michael Imperioli in character as Christopher Moltisanti.
Ray Liotta was once offered the role of Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos, but turned it down because he didn't want to be type casted in mafia roles after he starred in Goodfellas. In The Many Saints of Newark, he plays two roles as Dickie's father, "Hollywood Dick" Moltisanti, and Dickie's uncle, Salvatore "Sally" Moltisanti.
Before there was Tony Soprano the mob boss, there is the story of Dickie Moltisanti and how his influence turned young Tony into the future mafia boss.
As you may have already guessed, I am a big fan of The Sopranos. The first time I watched the show was when I was a kid and I rewatched all six seasons before watching The Many Saints of Newark. After watching the movie, I felt very let down.
Starting with the positives, the actors playing the classic characters from the show were great. Most memorable actors in the movie were Vera Farmiga playing Tony's debby-downer mother, Livia Soprano (originally played by Nancy Marchand), Corey Stoll as Junior Soprano (originally played by Dominic Chianese), Johnny Magaro as Silvio Dante (originally played by Steven Van Zandt), and Michael Gandolfini as Tony Soprano (originally played by James Gandolfini). Seeing these younger versions of the classic characters did bring back some nostalgia of the show.
I was most impressed with Michael Gandolfini as he played the same role as his father. When Michael was on screen, there were stunning similarities between him and James Gandolfini. I saw a lot of his father in his face and in his performance as the young Tony Soprano. If HBO ever wanted to do a new series based around Tony's younger years leading up to him and Carmela getting married, having kids, and Tony becoming captain, then Michael is perfectly suited to continue playing the role even when considering that he is 22 in real life.
Sadly, that is as far as the positives go. Regardless of the great performance by the actors, the story was severely lacking. There was no focus on whether the story wanted to focus on Dickie’s and Harold’s struggle for power or on how Tony’s childhood influenced him to become the mob boss in the show. That lack of focus on which story to tell made the movie drag for what felt like hours. Many times, it just didn’t feel like a Sopranos movie at all especially with Alessandro Nivola's character, Dickie Moltisanti, being the main focus. If I find myself liking the side characters who were hardly in the movie more than the leading character, then there is a problem with the story. I should be more invested in the main character, but he was so boring that his final moments didn't leave much of an impact.
Basically, the story is about the downfall of Dickie Moltisanti and how it all impacts Tony Soprano and Dickie's son, Christopher. One of the things I liked about The Sopranos is that while Tony Soprano was the star character, it also took time to focus on other characters from the gang, as well. For instance, there is one episode where Bobby Baccala gets into a feud with Paulie Walnuts because Bobby's wife and his children were on the tea cup ride that broke down and Paulie didn't want to pay up. At the same time, Paulie was having other issues he is worried about such as that he might have cancer and not being on good terms with his mother. Tony had to step in because he knows this feud between captains would cost him money. While Many Saints did do something similar like that with Tony's childhood story, I didn't care about Harold's war on the mafia. I wanted to see more of the characters that I loved from the show. For the small amount of time they had, the actors playing the younger versions of the characters were spot on and it made me want to see more of them.
There were one liners and easter eggs in Many Saints that called back to the show. As a fan, one liners like “He [Tony] never had the makings of a varsity athlete” or the scene where Johnny shoots Livia’s hair to make her be quiet made me smile and laugh because they harken back to certain episodes from The Sopranos. The downside is that you wouldn’t know that unless you watched the show. It is basically the same issue Godzilla: King of the Monsters had. A lot of fan service, but unless you watched the majority of Godzilla movies you wouldn’t catch any of the references. Same thing with Many Saints of Newark. A lot of fan service, but you wouldn't know which lines or moments came from the show unless you watched the show. I even felt it was too much. It was cool to hear certain lines or show certain sequence of events play out similarly to the show, yet not every single moment from the show had to be crammed into one movie and it sort of ruined the story.
The Many Saints of Newark had some funny moments that reference the show, but it overshadows the story making the movie very boring to watch. I enjoyed the side characters and was most impressed with Michael Gandolfini's performance on his father's character. Sadly, I didn't care much for Alessandro Nivola's character nor the story of his rivalry with Harold. This was just not the Sopranos movie I was looking for.
Did you watch The Many Saints of Newark? If so, what were your thoughts on the movie? Did you think it was bad or did you think it was better than you expected? What was your favorite moment? Leave a comment in the comments section of your thoughts on the movie. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Minds, MeWe, and Gab to stay up to date for more news, reviews, and discussions.