The Sopranos fans have been waiting 14 years for a follow-up — and it sounds like creator David Chase's long-awaited prequel is mostly worth the wait.
The Many Saints of Newark, which arrives in UK cinemas on Wednesday (September 22) and on HBO Max in the US on October 1, flashes back to a period oft-referenced in the Emmy-winning original series.
James Gandolfini's real-life son Michael plays a younger version of Tony Soprano during the Civil Rights struggle in Newark, New New Jersey, where he is mentored by his volatile uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola).
The first critical reviews dropped on Tuesday (September 21), and while they weren't rave reviews, The Many Saints of Newark is still rated Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with 80% as of now.
While some critics didn't love it, most still recommended it as essential viewing for fans of The Sopranos. Have a look at some early reviews below:
"Sinewy and smart, it's a rich imaginative leap into the pre-history of an iconic show, and a rare instance of the big screen doing right by the small."
"A busier proposition than its HBO forefather, this sets up more than it can pay off. But it does manage to balance fan-service with plenty of rich, original, complex material. Bada Bing."
"If The Many Saints of Newark is divided against itself to a certain degree... the young Gandolfini brings such primacy to the character that every scene he's in feels naturally formative."
"For superfans of the show, it's a great addition to the lore and a potent companion piece to the series' many thematic preoccupations."
"Saints can't be what Sopranos was - without the time or the ones who've been lost to tell it, fuggedaboutit. But for a hundred-something minutes, it feels close enough to coming home again."
"Chase's characters and this material always satisfy just as they leave you ready for more."
"Unfortunately, what [Chase] comes up with in this over-plotted Sopranos prequel is much less interesting than what he planted in our heads over six seasons."
"There are glimmers of something wonderful here, but so much of it seems to be cut short or only half-formed. It never had the makings of a crime classic."
The Many Saints of Newark is released in cinemas across the UK on Wednesday, September 22. It's out in US cinemas on October 1 as well as available on HBO Max.
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