/10 31K votes
Language: English | Spanish
Release date: December 9, 2021
An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
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West Wide Story (2021) is a movie my wife and I recently saw in theatres. The storyline follows a section of New York City currently being torn down and rebuilt. The area are former slums filled with Hispanic families as well as poor white children who live on the streets hustling. The white kids are made of a gang called the Jets and the Hispanics have a gang called the Sharks. Neither want to back down from the territory even as they lose their grips on their homes. When a member of the Jets falls in love with a sister of one of the Sharks gang members, things are about to get even more intense between the gangs.
This movie is directed by Steven Spielberg (the Color Purple) and stars Ansel Elgort (Divergent), Ariana DeBose (Hamilton), Rachel Zegler (Shazam! Gods of Fury), David Alvarez (The Stamp Collector), Corey Stoll (Ant-Man), Brian d'Arcy James (Spotlight) and Mike Faist (The Wildling).
The storyline for this picture is very dynamic and covers so many worthwhile topics from children impacted by bad parents, to racial issues despite similar challenges and injustices, to relationship challenges. The acting is out of this world and the songs were very good. The dance choreography is excellent and every second of the film is entertaining. There's aspects of the movie that's a bit far fetched but not enough to detract from the overall film. The sets and special effects are excellent as are the messages.
This is a very well done picture that's definitely a must see and one of the better films of 2021. I would score this a 9/10 and strongly recommend it.
Fmovies: The history of cinema is (also) a history of remake movies, and getting back to a famous theme such as 'West Side Story' is an event, especially since the 2021 version is directed by the famous Steven Spielberg himself, who The 75-year-old is on his first musical attempt. But the new 'West Side Story' is much more than a meeting between Leonard Bernstein's musical genius and Spielberg's cinematic genius. Let's not forget that the very musical written for Broadway was an adaptation of a book that was also a remake of a masterpiece that belongs to another art. It's the zillionth take of Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet'. The story is well known. Boy loves Girl. The two belong to two camps that are deadly enemies. They swear eternal love in spite of the enmity of those around them. However, the boy cannot avoid getting involved in the conflict with tragic consequences. In the unequal struggle between love and hate, the chances of the two lovers are zero. The ending being known, the differences consist in the description of the historical and social environments and in the talent with which the actors reproduce the passion of the saddest love story in history. For Spielberg, the term of comparison is not only Shakespeare's play but also the Broadway staging and the screen adaptation made 60 years ago, both of which enjoyed the endorsement and participation as Bernstein. How does the new film compare to the 1961 screen version? How inovative is the new version? Is the effort of creating a new and expensive production justified?
The last question is probably easy to answer. The remakes of successful movies (or adaptations of famous plays) don't need much justification. Each generation of filmmakers and viewers deserves their own 'West Side Story' or 'Romeo and Juliet'. Home success is largely guaranteed. What about the artistic success? Spielberg's 'West Side Story' tries at the same time to be inovative in its approach and extremely respectful of the music, dance and the original text or at least of its intentions. Some scenes are almost quotes - the dance that opens the movie, the balcony scene. However, new situations also show up, and these deserve some attention. Maria, the Puerto Rican Juliet, gets a life story that does not exist in the book or in the original film. She is not a new fresh immigrant, but has been in New York for many years, where she has cared for her elderly and sick father. Tony, the Romeo, also has a modified story, quite debatable in my opinion. His reluctance to engage in violence is determined by the positive influence (indeed!) of time spent behind bars for having committed a violent crime. The positive and interesting extension is that of the character of Valentina, who combines the figure of the Nurse in Shakespeare's play with a mixed marriage, which could be an example of coexistence. Finally, the West Side of Manhattan is caught on screen as bulldozers take action to demolish the former slum of poor immigrant homes and make way for luxury apartment blocks and the fabulous Lincoln Center.
Not all of these inventions work well on screen. Social and racial tensions did not seem to me to be better highlighted by the updates in the script. The new background story attributed to Tony seemed unbelievable to me, and was not offset by the acting of Ansel Elgort, who was stuck in a single attitude in most of the scenes. Film debutant Rachel Zegler is a conquering, fresh and ingenue Maria. They both sing splendid
If you consider tick, tick . . . Boom and Annette to be leading musicals of this Oscar season, then you haven't seen Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, as perfect a remake or could-be stand-alone musical as possible. His film is a model of cinematic excellence incorporating the iconic music from Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with choreography that respects the sheer brilliance of Jerome Robbins' original.
Not only does Spielberg honor the great original from 1961, but he also honors a diversified 2021 take with more Latino actors in the Sharks gang than the original. In addition, he includes more Spanish without subtitles than most directors would dare. Such changes lend realism and charm with a fearlessness that dares the audience to immerse itself in the upper-West side of 1958 Manhattan being demolished to make way for Lincoln Center and put behind it the crumbling structures of post-war decay.
In fact, the digitized rubble-strewn streets are an apt metaphor for the war-ravaged European WWII stage-no one escaped the spirit of Nazi-induced genocide that itself reflected the tribal hatred of the Jets and the Sharks. Lincoln Center was the White call to reconstruction still blind to the racism people of color suffered then and to a lesser degree now.
The heart of this lyrical tragedy based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is not the masterful digitization of NYC undergoing a tumultuous physical change but rather a decay of relationships between Whites and Puerto Ricans and with the former, mostly protestants and the latter embittered by the encroaching growth of Catholics. All of which prefaces our contemporary march toward diversity.
The timeless elements, which Spielberg and Shakespeare honor throughout, are anchored by the impetuousness of youth whose passion and abandon spell bliss and doom in each kiss. As the original Maria, Natalie Wood was lovely and petite, but Rachel Zegler carries an authenticity and innocence that original directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise would have envied. Richard Beymer as Tony was less talented than the current Ansel Elgort, but that's not saying much for the bland Elgort. Having Rita Moreno in a new role as the sage pharmacy owner Valentina is not only shrewd casting and innovation but also lifts the story from overbearing youthful stupidity to wisdom.
Spielberg's West Side Story may well win the Oscar for best picture of the year, but, no matter, it is now the litmus test for great musicals that rise above cultural neglect to showcase directorial genius and dynamic changing times. Go to your theater and immerse yourself in the best American cinema can do.
West Side Story fmovies. Greetings again from the darkness. My 'old school' nature causes me to cringe at the thought of classic films being remade. Why mess with something that's already beloved? However, since we know this happens (and will continue to happen), let's at least breathe a sigh of relief that a true lover of cinema and one of our legendary filmmakers, Steven Spielberg, is responsible for this one. Teaming once again with screenwriter Tony Kushner (MUNICH, LINCOLN), the love and admiration of the 1957 stage production, its music, and the 1961 film (by Robert Wise) shine through in this beautiful presentation. It's Spielberg's 35th movie, yet it's his first musical. You will note a few changes from the stage production and 60 year old movie, but the timing of a couple of songs, more realistic brawling, and additional on-location scenes all blend seamlessly into this lovely version.
Kushner's adaption of Arthur Laurents' original work contributes to the contemporary, yet nostalgic feeling. It maintains the "Romeo and Juliet" story of star-crossed lovers at the core of a turf battle between the Sharks (Puerto Ricans) and Jets (white immigrants), which is driven by a prejudice stirring the hatred that leads to conflict. Sound familiar? It could be taken from the local news headlines just about any day over the past few years. What also hasn't changed is that the Sharks and Jets are so blinded by hate and pride that they can't see how much they have in common, with the same loss looming. In fact, the point is driven home in the film's opening. Cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner Janusz Kaminski (SCHINDLER'S LIST, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) has his camera soaring and swooping to show us the neighborhood and ongoing demolition before zeroing in on a sign "Property Purchased by New York City for Slum Clearance". It comes in like a wrecking ball (literally). The two factions are fighting over turf that will soon be transitioned to Lincoln Center and high dollar real estate.
Ansel Elgort stars as Tony, the former leader of the Jets attempting to find a new path for his life after spending a year in prison for nearly killing an Egyptian immigrant in a rumble. Rachel Zegler, in a remarkable silver screen debut, stars as Maria, a bright-eyed Puerto Rican who sees the upside to limitless opportunity. Early on, we get our first conflict between the rival gangs, which introduces us to Riff (a terrific Mike Faist) as the quick-tempered Jets leader so desperate to protect the neighborhood, and Bernardo (a dynamic David Alvarez), Maria's older brother and proud leader of the Sharks - whose goal is to carve out a place in the new land as equal citizens. That first brawl gives Spielberg a chance to show off the choreography, as well as the new approach to fight scenes, which are less balletic and more bone-crunching. It's also the first run-in with local cops, Officer Krupke (Brian d'arcy James) and Lt. Schrank (Corey Stoll), neither of whom have much empathy or respect for the two gangs.
Tony (Ansel Elgort has a physical resemblance to Richard Beymer from the original film) and Maria get their 'eyes lock across the gymnasium during the dance' moment that really lights the candle for the big rumble. Of course, this is one of the most famous musicals of all-time, and the songs have become iconic. Elgort is handsome and has a smooth singing voice, but it's Ms. Zegler whose voice transcends and sounds heaven sent. If there is a negative, it's t
I was not prepared for how much this new version of "West Side Story" would affect me.
I've seen the original Robert Wise version a billion times, and I've seen the musical performed on stage as well. In both, I thought the Maria/Tony storyline was actually pretty boring, mostly because they're boring characters. They're just there to anchor the more colorful story that takes place around them, with the gang rivalry between the Sharks and the Jets giving the show all of its best songs and dances. So the biggest surprise to me with this new version is how vested I felt in what happened to Maria and Tony, and how much I wanted to see them be together even while knowing they wouldn't be. Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort have off the charts chemistry together, and their version of "Tonight" was so thrilling it was like hearing the song for the first time.
The original version of "West Side Story" was an imbalanced affair, with Rita Moreno and George Chakiris stealing the show out from everyone around them. Ariana DeBose doesn't exactly steal the show, but man does she admirably fill the daunting shoes left behind by Moreno. But this version's biggest revelation is Mike Faist in the role of Riff. Anita is such a dynamic part that it's easy to shine in it, but Faist finds depths in the character of Riff that I never would have guessed were there based on any previous incarnation of the material.
I wasn't sure how an antiquated musical set in the 1950s about gang members who dance rather than shoot each other could possibly feel anything other than dated in today's world, but this movie has a right place/right time feel to it. Themes of gentrification, racial hatred, gun violence, and a generation of kids being raised by crappy parents pretty much still applies as much to the world we live in now as it did the world of the 1950s.
This is a soaring, gorgeous, cinematic updating of a well worn property that manages to stay very faithful to its roots while justifying its being remade.
Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) love each other but their family and friends belong to rival gangs in 1950s NYC. Will their love survive?
GREAT remake of the 1961 classic. They make a few minor chances but leave the score and songs alone. The singing is great but the dancing is exceptional. Full of fire and color! Zegler is great as Maria and Arrianna DeBose and Mike Faist are also great as Anita and Riff. There are a few issues--when the Puerto Rican characters speak they speak in spanish...and it's not subtitled! What's the point in that? It kept throwing me out of the moivie! There;s also a total lack of sexual chemistry between Elgort and Zegler. And Elgort is a terrible actor. He can sing and dance but not act. Also I personally think he's ugly.
Still for everything else I give this a 9.