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Why Breaking Bad movie El Camino worked, while The Sopranos movie The Many Saints of Newark didn't

  • "The Many Saints Of Newark is the latest—and most high profile and most expensive—of movie codas to television shows," says Matt Schimkowitz. "Unfortunately, it’s also the most divisive. While movies have made for good TV prologues and epilogues for decades, The Many Saints Of Newark is among the most disappointing. After two years of COVID-related delays, the film landed at the box office with a thud. Though it fared better on streaming, Many Saints already feels a bit forgotten. Fans almost immediately returned to posting memes from the original series. At the same time, David Chase went back to press tours about making movies and revealing what became of Tony Soprano after the finale. Compared to other movie revivals for acclaimed, prestigious television shows, Many Saints falters. The decidedly more low-key El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie and Deadwood: The Movie prove that some approaches to the growing (or shrinking) pains of going from prestige TV show to tentpole movie work better than others." Why did El Camino work? "To the 2019 film’s benefit, El Camino is essentially inessential," says Schimkowitz. "(Vince) Gilligan’s approach is slight, refusing to disturb the main narrative but homing in on the show’s stylistic quirks and emotional catharsis. Like its source, El Camino is about the process of how one escapes a seemingly impossible situation. While it doesn’t succeed as a standalone movie (one that anyone would watch on a whim without seeing Breaking Bad), it packs enough familiar thrills and faces to make a worthy supplement that could be tucked neatly into the main narrative. One could imagine Jesse’s heist of Todd’s (Jesse Plemons) apartment spread across several episodes, with the reveal of rival thieves, providing several cliffhangers for commercial breaks and episode cappers along the way. El Camino’s reluctance to take risks ends up helping it. It’s a familiar Breaking Bad story, complete with tense plotting, brutal violence, and propulsive energy. El Camino is both pretty good and also totally inconsequential. It doesn’t pose a big question like, 'Who made Tony Soprano?' Instead, it focuses on the immediate escape and conclusion that never felt necessary but is available if fans want it."

    TOPICS: The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Retro TV