WEST SIDE STORY – Rated PG-13 – 2 hrs. 36 mins.

This review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

DIRECTOR:  Steven Spielberg

WRITERS:  Tony Kushner, based on the stage play & book by Arthur Laurents

STARRING:  Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno, David Alvarez, and Mike Faist

In October of 1961, three years before I was born, Arthur Laurent’s book, and stage play, was brought to the big screen, bringing this modern-day Romeo and Juliet story to life…

Fast forward to 60 years later, as Academy Award winning Director Steven Spielberg, takes us back in time to New York City, and the streets are filled with chaos, with the Jets and the Sharks planning to end the score of who will run the streets in their small part, of this great big town…

So, as the American vs. Hispanic conflict rages on, it seems that former Jett front-man Tony (Ansel Elgort), has become rather smitten by the incredibly beautiful Maria (Rachel Zegler), even though their friends and families advise strongly against perusing this forbidden love.  And when Maria’s brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), the head of the Sharks, finds out about Maria’s new love interest, he will stop at nothing to make sure that these two, as they say, come to their senses. Bernardo is so bull-headed about his sister not being with an American, that he can’t even be swayed by his own one true love Anita (Ariana DeBose), as she tries desperately to soften his stance on his sister’s new love interest…

Now, with Maria and Tony having no choice but to meet in the shadows to see one another, it seems that the new leader of the Jets Riff (Mike Faist) and Bernardo are more determined than ever, to gather their gangs, and to end this conflict between them, once and for all…battling for ultimate control.

And as Tony and Maria try to come to terms with their relationship, and the grief it is causing their families, and friends, it seems that Bernardo’s friend Chino (Josh Andres Rivera) cannot stand by and let Tony start a life with Maria either, as the walls of this love story, come crashing in…

Sebastian Serra as Braulio, Ricky Ubeda as Flaco, and David Alvarez as Bernardo in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
© 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Ramona Rosales. (Left to Right:) Anybodys (Ezra Menas), Mouthpiece (Ben Cook), Action (Sean Harrison Jones); Jets leader Riff (Mike Faist); Baby John (Patrick Higgins); Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler); Maria’s brother and Sharks leader Bernardo (David Alvarez); and Sharks members Quique (Julius Anthony Rubio), Chago (Ricardo Zayas), Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), Braulio (Sebastian Serra) and Pipo (Carlos Sánchez Falú).
Ansel Elgort as Tony in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Ariana DeBose as Anita and David Alvarez as Bernardo in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Rita Moreno as Valentina in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.
Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rachel Zegler as Maria in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY, directed by Steven Spielberg. Photo by Niko Tavernise. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Director Steven Spielberg and Rita Moreno as Valentina on the set of 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.

I give WEST SIDE STORY a rating of 10/10:  Filled with incredible cinematography, incredible music, and even a few tweaks to make this remake feel a tad more modern day…WEST SIDE STORY has everything it takes to rise to musical royalty, even in a year where it seems that musicals are becoming a “genre of choice” once again.  Spielberg has crafted such a wonderful remake of this musical classic from back in the day, that you don’t even realize you’re in the theater for 2 ½ hours, taking it all in.   And as the casting goes throughout this one – WOW – it is exceptional too, as Ansel Elgort proves he’s a lot more than “just a pretty face” when he taps into his smooth sailing pipes throughout this fabulous film.  And between newcomer Rachel Zegler, and Ariana DeBose’s performances throughout too…this picture is pure movie magic, as the girls this time around, most definitely take center stage!  But the most endearing part for me in this mesmerizingly creation, is the sweet, and heart-felt role that Valentina, a.k.a. Rita Moreno has this time around, as she brings her incomparable acting prowess to this role too, just as she did playing Anita in this production, so many moons ago.  And if you are apprehensive about seeing this remake, scared that it won’t be able to hold up to the original, think again, as it is just as magical to watch as when Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer brought the original West Side Story to life. And I would also be totally remise if I didn’t mention that besides the beautiful images, fabulous music, and incredible singing taking place on screen, you will be amazed by the choreography in this new West Side Story as well, as it is nothing less than sheer perfection, under the direction of choreography Master Justin Peck!  He puts his expertise into every inch of this film, from start to finish, adding a modern take to the classic moves of this film’s predecessor.  Mark my words, if you love musicals like I love musicals, then you have to head out to a theater near you this weekend, you know, the one with the biggest screen and best sound system you can find to catch West Side Story, as it is by far the most enjoyable musical, I have had to the privilege to view throughout this entire year…

10/10

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