This is my review of Steven Spielberg’s remake of the classic musical ‘West Side Story’. I hope you enjoy it!
The visuals in ‘West Side Story’ are simply stunning and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński knocks it out of the park, bringing the upper west side of Manhattan to life on the big screen. In an age of big CGI-filled blockbusters with digital cameras moving all around virtual sets, it’s refreshing to see the camera being moved through the streets of Manhattan with camera movements that are done in real life rather than on a computer. Aditionally, The colors in this film are also great. They are dark & dingy (like in the opening scene) but also bright & colorful if the material calls for it (such as in the ‘America’ scene). I also love the cinematographer’s choice to shoot this movie on 35mm film stock, which I think influences the wonderful colors and helps give it a delightful old-fashioned feel at times while still maintaining brilliant detail & sharpness.
This movie’s cast includes Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, David Alvarez, Ariana DeBose, Mike Faist, and Josh Andres Rivera. Every actor gives a stellar performance, especially Ariana DeBose – who won an Oscar for her role.
For this iteration, Tony award-winning Tony Kushner (sorry for the repetition!) pens the script and you’ll be happy to hear it is just as good as the visuals and the acting. There are some great moments such as the monologue by Lieutenant Schrank in the opening but it never gets too bogged down in deep, long, speeches and always keeps you hooked. This movie’s 2h 38m running time never feels too long and I never found myself checking how long it was until it was over (something I can’t say for most movies).
Singing, Dancing & Music
Obviously, I can’t review a musical without talking about the singing, the dancing and the music. The songs in this version of West Side Story are largely the same as the 1961 version, except for some minor re-ordering in the tracklist, and one new song (‘La Borinquena’). Apart from these structural differences, I would say the only other difference is that the singing in this version is better than the 1961 version. I can’t tell if this is the power of modern technology and auto-tune or if the crew genuinely chose better singers for the roles, but the one thing I can say is that with or without technical meddling, Rachel Zegler’s voice is outstanding and the rest of the singing is still very enjoyable to listen to. The original songs from the musical are as good as they were all the way back in 1957 (My favourite is ‘America’) so no worries there. The choreography by Justin Peck is exceptional and never gets boring.
Steven Spielberg’s dazzling new adaptation of West Side Story is, in a word, breathtaking. The singing, the choreography, the script, the acting, and the visuals are brilliant and I can’t actually find any faults with this sensational movie. This will without a doubt become the definitive version of this material for years to come.