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West Side Story Movie Review

West Side Story Movie Review
Steven Spielberg has said he has long-wished to make a musical, and even for a filmmaker of his stature, taking on "West Side Story" seems like a daunting task. The 1961 film musical adapted from the 1957 Broadway play won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, and has been a cultural touchstone ever since. "West Side Story" isn't a universally praised property, but its detractors and supporters have kept the conversation going for decades, leading up to the 2021 remake.

For any musical novices, all a movie needs is some winning performances and a few catchy songs. Broadway aficionados have earned the analytical right to determine if "West Side Story" is a great musical or not, but to a mere layman such as myself, the dazzling craft and charismatic performances that fill the screen are worth the price of admission.

Spielberg's bona fides clearly need no explanation or defense, especially when it comes to putting together a grand spectacle. But, "West Side Story" is the most alive one of his films has felt on screen in a long time. Spielberg is a filmmaker who is easy to take for granted because greatness is expected from him with each trip to the multiplex. His latest run of films hasn't captured the spark he had early in his career, or even in the 90s. "Lincoln" was a highly celebrated film in 2012, but "West Side Story" is the first time since the early 2000s that a Spielberg picture has a true personality or pulse on the screen (the criminally underrated "Catch Me If You Can" is the reference point here).

The story at the heart of "West Side Story" predates the original text's 1957 date because, as anyone who has seen any iteration of the play knows, it's a variation on "Romeo & Juliet.". Maria (Rachel Zegler, in a star-making debut) catches the eye of Tony (Ansel Elgort) from across a crowded gymnasium during a dance. They are immediately drawn to each other and their love grows instantaneously. But, as the story goes, their love can't last.

Surrounding their burgeoning romance is the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks. Tony is a Jet, a gang made up entirely of young white men, and Maria is intertwined with the Sharks, made up of Puerto Ricans. Her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez) is the face of the Sharks and is constantly clashing with the Jets' leader Riff (Mike Faist). Bernardo is also dating Maria's friend and roommate Anita (Ariana DeBose), which only further complicates Maria's relationship with Tony.

The different factions face off for control of areas in New York City, set to the iconic score and songs, performed with balletic precision in its choreography. For the non-anointed members of the audience, there's your reason to see "West Side Story." Spielberg is working with some repeat players in the crafts department, particularly his regular cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who captures the grittiness of New York City that may have escaped the 1961 adaptation.

But why touch such a celebrated property in the first place? That's a fair question with any remakes, updates, or reboots. Does the final product justify its own existence? "West Side Story" does, for the simple reason that it will likely launch its young cast into superstardom and open doors only Spielberg can. Zegler is a natural on screen and has already booked two high profile roles. Maria and Tony's relationship, while it's the emotional crux of the story, isn't the most interesting, and she does her best with Elgort, who has always been a bit of a blank slate. From the supporting cast, DeBose had the biggest challenge in reprising Rita Moreno's Oscar-winning role and doing so across from the legendary star (Moreno co-stars here as storeowner Valentina). As the Jets' leader, Faist owns every scene he's in with a swaggering confidence.

2021 has been the year of the musical, and Christmastime has often been when studios release their musicals in theaters. There's a broad appeal to the genre, which can make for fine family viewing over the holiday. "West Side Story" remains a hefty sit, but Spielberg will transport you back into 1950s New York City.

West Side Story Movie Review By Matthew Passantino

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
West Side Story Movie Review West Side Story Movie Review Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Sunday, December 19, 2021 Rating: 5

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