The Sopranos

I feel pretty good, and I will feel a whole lot better when I find out who tried to have me clipped.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )

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I love gangster movies. I was personally insulted with the mockery that was Analyze This as a movie that was a comedy first with bad gangster stuff thrown in. Everyone knows that a good gangster movie is funny on it's own, and doesn't need Scarface and Pulp Fiction are all very funny movies without any special help. TV Shows have one thing that movies can never have. Long time character development. The thing that makes shows like ER and NYPD Blue good is the fact that you have seen the characters evolve over time. The actors have had time to truly get to know the character and the whole thing is a lot more believable. The Soprano's has the best of two worlds. One, it is a series, so over the 13 episodes in this pack, you get to understand the characters a lot better than in a simple two hour movie. Two, it is on HBO, so it has no problems with sex, language and violence. The Soprano's delivers. While there are a few stand alone theme episodes that really don't move much along, most of the time we get an excellent evolving story line as two mob factions fight it out. The characters are deep and very well done, the story is a lot of fun and the setting is perfect. I found myself having to hold back from watching them all as fast as I could. I was really looking forward to the next episode, and that is the sign of a good story. Some episodes are certainly better than others. Some scenes are done almost as well as the big scenes in the big gangster movies, and the dialog is wonderful. Half the fun is watching these mob guys trying to act like mob guys are taught to act from the media. They really do a good job capturing the chicken and egg issue in here. A few scenes can directly be tied back to big scenes in 2 as well as Goodfellas, Scarface and others. They even do it to the point where they cite the scene back to the movie, making it all the funnier. It isn't a rip off if the mobster's influence really was the movie they are using.

The DVD release is as good as it could be. Each episode is done in at 1.85 to 1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and does a fine job with the music. Each episode has a commentary and there is a special feature included on the last disc.

One of the big problems with these kinds of DVDs is whether they are worth owning or just renting. I knew after watching three episodes off of disc 2 that I had to own them. Now that I have seen them all I am ready to sit right down and watch them again. The only problem I have is waiting for the next 13 episodes that will hopefully not come out too far in the future. The Sopranos is a show that takes itself seriously and makes fun of itself all at the same time and does that formula perfectly. Definitely one of the good ones.