Review: Steven Spielberg doesn't disappoint with his vibrant, revamped 'West Side Story'


Steven Spielberg worked wonders with a shark before, and he makes magic with a bunch of Sharks and some Jets, too.

For the first time, the Oscar-winning director puts his stamp on a movie musical. And he doesn’t disappoint – even when taking on an influential all-timer like “West Side Story” (★★★½ out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters Dec. 10). With outstanding performances from newcomer Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose, Spielberg’s take doesn’t stray too far from the original 1957 “Romeo & Juliet”-inspired Broadway musical or the 1961 best picture winning-film, but is rather a more authentic, dynamic and thoughtful revamp.

In addition to bringing back OG movie star Rita Moreno, this new “Story” deals with problems of representation from past efforts, redefines characters, puts that Spielbergian blockbuster spin on legendary musical numbers, and gives needed sociopolitical context to the central conflict, one that spawns both true love and tragedy.

‘I’m not that color’:Rita Moreno pushed back against dark makeup in original ‘West Side Story’

Review: Steven Spielberg doesn't disappoint with his vibrant, revamped 'West Side Story'

In New York City circa 1957, the white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks are rival street gangs fighting for what’s left of their diminishing turf as slums are cleared and Manhattan’s West Side is built up. Jets leader Riff (Mike Faist) wants an all-out rumble against Bernardo (David Alvarez) and his men, but Riff’s friend Tony (Ansel Elgort), a former Jet who just served a year in prison, wants to work at the local drug store and stay out of trouble.

“I’m scared of myself, Riff,” Tony tells his old pal.

Tony goes to the dance at the gym where Jets, Sharks and Bernardo’s fiery love Anita (DeBose) take out their aggression via mambo. It’s there Tony locks eyes with Bernardo’s sister Maria (Zegler), and the two instantly fall for each other – though Maria’solder brother Bernardo insists she not see him. Tony and Maria meet secretly on fire escapes and wherever they can to hide their budding relationship, which is threatened as opposing factions approach a violent and inevitable collision.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ at 40:All of Steven Spielberg’s movies, definitively ranked

Review: Steven Spielberg doesn't disappoint with his vibrant, revamped 'West Side Story'

Tony winner Tony Kushner’s new screenplay brings more life to the cast of personalities outside of its young lovers, though Elgort’s Tony gets a welcome backstory. The Sharks especially are a focal point for the update: Bernardo is a rising prizefighter trying to keep Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), a friend going to night school and his preferred beau for Maria, away from gang fights. Whereas many of the Puerto Rican characters in the ’51 movie were played by white actors (most famously Natalie Wood’s Maria), Spielberg specifically cast Latino performers as their 2021 counterparts, who speak Spanish to each other frequently. (English-speaking audiences will get the gist even without subtitles, another nice touch).

Spielberg wonderfully uses shadow and light to lend added drama to the dance-fight throwdowns, and a kaleidoscope of stained-glass colors give a holy feel to Tony and Maria’s “One Hand, One Heart” duet. Leonard Bernstein’s music and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics are as vibrant and vital as ever in the new film: The phenomenal and joyful “America,” with DeBose and Co. hoofing their way through the streets of San Juan Hill, is why you pair a legend like Spielberg with quintessential material.

Review: Steven Spielberg doesn't disappoint with his vibrant, revamped 'West Side Story'

And while a couple of famous numbers don’t quite fit tonally, others more than do their part: Moreno, the original film’s Anita who plays Tony’s boss/maternal figure Valentina in the new movie, will give you chills singing “Somewhere,” and DeBose and Zegler are emotional powerhouses in “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love.”

Zegler’s a magnetic Maria in her Hollywood debut – it’s not just a star-making turn, but the kind that could inspire a new generation of musical-theater nerds. Although she’s the heart, DeBose is the soul of this “West Side Story”: A “Hamilton” alum who impressed in last year’s “The Prom,” she digs deep to make Anita the most complex character of all, going from hopeful optimism in the first act to righteous anger and fury by the second.

Spielberg even brings the Anitas together in one key (and knowing) scene with Moreno and DeBose. The director’s been around the block enough to not mess with greatness, instead touching up the paint on a classic narrative and leaning into a love story as relevant as ever.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Recordings VI Today from tomorrow evening half an hour earlier

Talk show recordings VI Today start from tomorrow night half an hour earlier. This allows the public to watch the entire broadcast. The broadcast on television will start at the ... Read more »

Barry Cryer's best jokes throughout the years

From quick one-liners to his jokes about birds, Barry Cryer established himself as one of the comedy greats. Read more »

Fed signals interest rate hike could come 'soon' as inflation rages

The Fed shed light on its plans to tighten policy as it combats inflation Read more »

Lamborghini speeds into NFT market with space-inspired artwork

Lamborghini’s first NFT is taking the luxury sportscar maker to space. The Italian automaker announced plans to auction off its first non-fungible token, a piece of art called Space Time ... Read more »

Federal judge halts Noem's abortion pill restriction rule

PIERRE, S.D. — A federal judge has temporarily halted a South Dakota rule from taking effect that would have made the state one of the hardest places in the U.S. ... Read more »

Long-term US mortgage rates hold this week at 3.55%

The Associated PressCondominium units are offered for sale in the Dorchester neighborhood, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Boston. Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose in the past week to start ... Read more »

Olympics-China names men's hockey team of mostly foreign-born players

FILE PHOTO: China’s HC Kunlun Red Star plays in the Russian-based KHL ahead of IIHF evaluation, in Mytishchi By Tony Munroe and Yew Lun Tian BEIJING (Reuters) – China's 25-member ... Read more »

Study: Gas stoves worse for climate than previously thought

1 / 4Gas Stoves ClimateIn this photo provided by climate scientist Rob Jackson, researcher Eric Lebel samples natural gas from a stove in Stanford, Calif., in 2021. According to a ... Read more »

Holly Madison says Hugh Hefner offered her Quaaludes on their first night out together

Holly Madison said Hugh Hefner offered her Quaaludes during their first night out together. Madison made the accusation in a new episode of “Secrets of Playboy,” which premiered Monday. “They ... Read more »

Monaco Palace Shares Update on Princess Charlene's Health as Her Recovery Continues

Princess Charlene of Monaco Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Princess Charlene As the Monaco royals mark Saint Dévote Day, an annual celebration in honor of their patron saint, the royal palace ... Read more »

Civil Wars Expert: U.S. Capitol Riot Made 1 Chilling Thing ‘Impossible To Deny'

University of California professor Barbara Walter, an expert on civil conflicts, said the U.S. Capitol riot “made it impossible to deny and ignore that there really was this cancer growing” ... Read more »

YouTube permanently bans Fox News host Dan Bongino for evading Covid misinformation suspension

The video giant has added more rules around Covid-19 content as the pandemic has worn on. Read more »

Betting trends to know ahead of this weekend's 49ers vs. Rams NFC championship game

On Site: USA Today Sports’ NFL reporter Mike Jones is here to give you insight on how to bet on this weekend’s NFC matchup between the 49ers and Rams. Read more »

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger retires from NFL after 18 seasons

Nearly two weeks after a season-ending loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs, Ben Roethlisberger confirmed what others had reported and he had ... Read more »

New on Videoland in February: The Good Doctor, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bachelor

WATCHING TIPSGood news for fans of The Bachelor! The popular Videoland program will come with a brand new season in February in which StukTV presenter Thomas van der Vlugt embarks ... Read more »

Justice Sotomayor honors her mom in 'Just Help! How to Build a Better World'

"It’s the little things each of us do every day to improve our communities,” the Supreme Court's only Latina justice said about the message in her new children's book. Read more »

Barry Cryer obituary: The comedy star and writer whose innate sense of humour and perfect comic timing kept us laughing for decades

A writer for The Two Ronnies who worked with other comedians including Tommy Cooper, Billy Connolly, Russ Abbot and Jasper Carrott, Barry Cryer truly was one of Britain's comedy greats. Here is a look back at his career in entertainment. Read more »

Altria: iQOS cigarette alternative off market through 2022

The Associated PressFILE – This Nov. 25, 2019 photo shows IQOS heated cigarette store sign in Richmond, Va. Altria said Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, that its heat-not-burn cigarette, iQOS, probably ... Read more »

How to store Covid at-home tests properly

Temperature changes, moisture levels and other factors may affect results. Read more »

Late-stage colon cancer showing up in more younger adults. 'Get screened,' doctor urges

A growing number of young adults are being diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer, according to a new peer-reviewed study. Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine looked at ... Read more »

Group warns of potential catastrophe on old tanker off Yemen

CAIRO — A leading environmental group warned Thursday of a potential major oil leak or explosion on an aging oil tanker moored off of Yemen’s Red Sea coast. The neglected ... Read more »

Two charged in coat thefts reject sentence offer

Jan. 27—DANVERS — Two of the five people charged in what turned into a violent robbery at a Danvers clothing store back in 2019 are turning down a judge's proposed ... Read more »

Opinion: Dave Winfield remains enemy of Buckeye Nation, 50 years after infamous brawl

As villains go, Dave Winfield is the Darth Evader of Ohio State basketball history. For 50 years the former Minnesota Golden Gophers forward has downplayed his role in the 1972 ... Read more »

Tracy Morgan made Ad Meter history with 2021's Super Bowl commercials

Ad Meter’s top three commercials pulled the punches, including Michael B. Jordan voicing Amazon Alexa and Tracy Morgan giving homebuying advice. Read more »

White House expands digital regulations for U.S. water supply

The new recommendations follows similar White House initiatives for the aviation and gas pipeline sectors. Read more »

Mega Millions jackpot jumps to $421 millions for Friday drawing, two tickets win millions

No one won the Mega Millions jackpot Tuesday night so the jackpot will climb to $421 million for Friday night’s drawing, according to the Mega Millions website. The cash option ... Read more »

Stranger sneaks into Iowa neonatal ICU and bottle-feeds baby

In a statement, hospital officials said they're "actively cooperating with the Des Moines Police Department ... and have conducted an internal investigation into the matter." Read more »

Russian hockey player Anisimov out of isolation for Olympics

MOSCOW (AP) — Former NHL forward Artem Anisimov is out of isolation after testing negative for the coronavirus and has rejoined the Russian team ahead of the Beijing Olympics, the ... Read more »

EU watchdog clears Facebook's purchase of Kustomer startup

The Associated PressFILE – Facebook’s Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2021. European Union regulators have approved Facebook parent Meta’s ... Read more »

Amy Schneider dethroned by Rhone Telsma: A look back at the tricky 'Jeopardy' clues she missed

Amy Schneider’s “Jeopardy” run ended Tuesday night after 40 games. The engineering manager was dethroned by Rhone Talsma, a Chicago librarian. Schneider often held huge leads by Final Jeopardy, but ... Read more »

ShowBiz Minute: Andrew, Young, 'Jeopardy!'

Prince Andrew renews attempt to get Giuffre suit dismissed; Spotify says it will grant Young’s request to remove music; “Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider’s history-making run ends. (Jan. 27) Read more »

CRA to send out new round of letters checking eligibility from CERB recipients

OTTAWA — The Canada Revenue Agency is sending out a new round of letters to pandemic aid recipients to verify they were eligible for the help, and warning of potential ... Read more »

Hilary Duff's husband Matthew Koma posted a savage TikTok after bumping into her ex boyfriend at dinner

Photo credit: Michael Kovac – Getty Images Let's face it, we love it when celebrities show their real sense of humour. From Mila Kunis and Demi Moore making Ashton Kutcher ... Read more »

Hailey Bieber just showed her real skin texture in unfiltered pictures

Photo credit: Hailey Bieber/@haileybieber Social media can be a funny place. As much as it can be a fun space to share your #weekendbrunch snaps, it can also be leave ... Read more »

Melanie Ham: Crafting YouTuber dies aged 36

YouTuber and crafter Melanie Ham, who was well-known for the stories about her art and personal life she shared on social media, has died at the age of 36. According ... Read more »

YouTube bans Fox News host Dan Bongino for evading suspension

MICHAEL REYNOLDS via Getty Images Fox News host Dan Bongino is no longer welcome on YouTube. The company confirmed to The Hill that Bongino is now permanently banned from its ... Read more »

Oklahoma prepares to execute man for 2001 hotel slayings

The Associated PressFILE – This undated photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows Donald Anthony Grant. A federal appeals court in Denver has rejected a request from two ... Read more »

Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo lead iHeartRadio nominations

The Associated PressFILE – Justin Bieber attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala on Sept. 13, 2021, in New York. Bieber leads the iHeartRadio Music Award nominations. ... Read more »

In Mexico, avocados, deforestation, drug gangs go together

CHERAN, Mexico — Regular citizens have taken the fight against illegal logging into their own hands in the pine-covered mountains of western Mexico, where loggers clear entire hillsides for avocado ... Read more »

Cold Front Brings Snow to Amman

Snow accumulated in the streets in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday, January 27, after a cold front had moved across the eastern Mediterranean. The Public Security Directorate said some secondary roads ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic