A remake of the classic musical West Side Story was questioned by many people for a long time after its announcement. Why remake a movie that is beloved and does it really need to be remade now? Will Spielberg even do a good job after a few movies that some felt didn’t have his full heart into the production? How could you possibly improve a movie that was made 60 years ago on an extremely small budget and sets compared to today? Well, do i have some news for you, Not only Does it improve on the original and stand side by side, it gives a new voice in a way.

Steven Spielberg’s touch can really be felt in this movie, in a magical way that hasn’t been seen in quite a while. The set pieces are bigger and more encompassing of the setting, take “America” for example, instead of taking place on a small rooftop, it goes throughout the streets and shops that the Puerto Rican Characters live in and is one of the best musical scenes of the year. In fact the respect that is shown to the Sharks Side is outstanding and courageous with none of the Spanish being subtitled as they wanted to give as much respect to the language and people as they do to Tony and the Jets side of the story. Don’t worry you will always understand what Any character who speaks Spanish is saying as they act physically so well that you can tell if it was out of anger or love. A lot of Credit also must go to the screenwriter Tony Kushner for making some of the changes that helped the story along in my opinion, Fleshing out some of the supporting characters more so than in the original, Changing Doc to his widow Valentina played by the fantastic Rita Moreno, or even who sings or the setting of a song. Two of my favorite song changes were giving the song “Cool” to Tony and have it sung to Riff before the big rumble to try and stop him, and having Valentina sing the song “Somewhere” after hearing about what happens at the rumble as it feels she is singing for her and Doc, Maria and Tony, and Anita and Bernando and it is just so well done.

Acting Wise the standouts for me were Rachel Zegler as Maria, Ariana DeBose as Anita, Mike Faist as Riff, and David Alvarez as Bernando. First let me say that everyone is just utterly fantastic Ansel Elgort is a fantastic Tony, but he doesn’t steal the show like the others do. Zegler, DeBose, and Alvarez together are some of the best parts of this movie and they are fleshed out and given more depth, sometimes the depth is shown just in the expressions and way they act. Mike Faist stole the whole movie to me, as soon as he comes on screen, he commands your attention as Riff and he plays him as a guy that you want to love but you need to hate. The Best acting i have seen all year was between him and Alvarez in the rumble scene, Both have knives pulled on each other and they dance around trying to stab the other, but you see in their faces that they don’t want this, they dont want to die for this, But the ego of both characters can’t have them stand down and look weak. It is a scene that has stuck with me so much ever since i saw this movie.

West Side Story is the Musical you know and love, just told bigger and with a voice and love for the cultures of the characters that isn’t there in the original

West Side Story gets a 95/100

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