6/10 Coming 14 years after “The Sopranos” came to an abrupt end, this prequel movie is well made and perfectly cast but feels like it belongs like it would have been better suited as part of an HBO limited series as opposed to a movie. The end of this movie leaves room for a sequel, possibly a new trilogy of prequel films. Yet in the entire two hour run time, I couldn’t help but think how this felt like two episodes of “The Sopranos”. When you make a movie based off of a TV show, you better have a good reason to make it a true cinematic experience and the biggest problem here is that it doesn’t feel cinematic enough. This feels like two good episodes of the show. If there ends up being a sequel or two to this (doubtful considering the dismal box office receipts), that would add up to roughly six hours, which just makes me think HBO should have greenlit a six episode limited series as the prequel, instead of making a movie. I also wished they would have added text to the screen to show what year it was. While there are obvious time jumps and they aren’t hard to keep up with, showing specific years could have helped with context and figuring out exactly how far these time jumps are. Despite these issues, there is a lot to admire about this movie. The production values are extremely high as the time period is expertly recreated with era appropriate costumes, sets, cars, styles, props, buildings, etc. The use of score and soundtrack are well done and help transport you back in time. The casting is probably the best element of the film. We get to see lots of actors and actresses playing younger versions of familiar faces we saw on “The Sopranos” and each one is a welcome sight. John Magaro as a young Silvio Dante was probably the most dead on accurate as to how you’d imagine a younger Sil to be. Casting James Gandolfini’s son Michael as a younger version of his father was a gamble that greatly paid off. The last standout worth mentioning is Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, Tony’s mother. She nails the accent, gets to say her well known “Poor you!” catchphrase and some make-up/prosthetics help her character come to life. We get several references/call backs to the show and the vast majority of them work and enter into the movie naturally. The only one I took issue with was a flashback to a carnival, which the show had already shown but the scene gets remade here with this cast. Since we already saw this moment in the show, I wasn’t the biggest fan of including it again but with new people. That one instance aside though, the other moments connected to the show are great. If you haven’t watched “The Sopranos”, you can still enjoy this movie, but you will get a lot more out of it if you’ve seen the show. Despite the excellent production design, costume design, hair & make-up, casting, soundtrack, etc., I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed that this was essentially two prequel episodes of the show, as opposed to something epic and cinematic enough to warrant the big screen treatment.

#BirthOfTheGabagool / #BigDickieEnergy / #PleaseMrGandolfiniSirDontHurtMe / #AMomentTooJune / #MadeForTelevision / #MadeRunner1967

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