Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is a testament that not all remakes have to be bad. Some are simply great!
First, I must admit that I’ve never seen the original movie, or the theatre play. As a result, I went into the movie with that I’d call a fresh perspective. However, I decided to watch the original movie the next day to compare. The result? I must admit that Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story presents a new look that lives up to the original, and in some respects might even surpass it. And it all comes down to the cast.
Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler have terrific chemistry! David Alvarez is a walking sack of testosterone as Berardo. Mike Faist sizzles as Riff: He envelopes the screen and draws you into his complicated background. Plus, I can watch Rita Moreno at anything, anytime, anywhere! She’s amazing!
However, the incredible cast had some help. It’s no small feat to bring 1950s New York to life. Giving credits where credits are due. The amazing craft team behind the scenes: Cinematographers, Art directors, set directors, and those choreographed dance scenes! It all felt so much alive.
Sadly, if you know the story, you’ll know it’s not a happy one. It was heartbreaking seeing Ariana DeBose playing Anita in THAT scene (#NoSpoilers).
Finally, I loved every second of it. But don’t expect this movie to be a hit with today’s audience. It’s clear that Spielberg was more concerned about crafting a movie than making a blockbuster to please the studio. I will be watching it over and over once it hits Disney Plus in the new year.
Should you watch it?
This 2021 remake is an exceptional example of how an expert filmmaker like Steven Spielberg can make a time-tested genre feel fresh & alive. We’ll be watching this one decades later.
Where can I watch it?
West Side Story is now streaming on Disney+.