By Gabriela Gutierrez
Gang wars, the mafia, deception and violence, HBO’s “The Many Saints of Newark” has the recipe for a successful film and does good, not great.
The film is entertaining and full of potential, especially with appearances by Ray Liotta as “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and original Soprano James Gandolfini’s son, Michael Gandolfini, as teenage Tony Soprano.
However, the film’s goal is not always clear.
Instead of a direct plot, viewers get simultaneous plots that take away from the film’s overall message, “Who made Tony Soprano?”
The film begins with a narration by actor Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti who paints a vague picture of when Tony Soprano murders him and gives his wife and baby his pocket change, alluding to “The Sopranos.”
Shortly after, Dickie Moltisanti played by Alessandro Nivola, Hollywood Dick’s son, comes into the picture with a young Tony Soprano who is played by WIlliam Ludwig, as they make their way to greet his father from his trip back from Italy.
Although this is only the introduction, the film changes its pace several times in so little time that just when the main plot is unfolding, the film throws another side-plot into the mix and distracts its viewers.
The film’s downfall is the way it leaves viewers wanting more from certain characters and scenes.
The film is cluttered and packed with too much content all at once, and the consequence of that is that the film overall is not very memorable.
Nothing stands out because everything stands out all at once.
The focus, which is supposed to be on Dickie Moltisanti and Tony Soprano, gets shared with all the other characters and not for the greater good of the film.
The acting, on the other hand, is what makes the film entertaining and believable.
None of the actors give less than wonderful performances.
The essence of the Italian mafia from New Jersey that viewers see in the original show is not lost in the film thanks to the dedication seen in every actor.
Ludwig, even at the early age of 14, does justice to his role as young Tony Soprano.
Both Ludwig and Gandolfini show a side to Soprano that “The Soprano” fans do not get to see much of in the show.
They both reveal a developing Soprano who is at odds with who he wants to be and constantly seeks guidance from those around him, especially his uncle Moltisanti.
Director Alan Taylor also does justice with great cinematography. Every scene is brought to life with attention to detail and dry humor undercuts that are captured at the perfect time.
The characters, their outfits, the way they all fall into their characters in an aesthetic way all work together in the film’s favor.
The film is written by “The Sopranos” original creator David Chase along with Lawrence Konner. Chase’s work on the film is evident in the dialogue which is reminiscent of the original show.
Despite losing the main plot to several other plots often, Taylor creates a fun and captivating film that is good enough to recommend to viewers, both fans and first-timers alike.
“The Many Saints of Newark” was released on October 1. It is streaming on HBO and in select theaters.