West Side Story review: Steven Spielberg reimagines the source in a vibrant showcase for its stars

Adjusted by playwright Tony Kushner, the movie — referred to as a “reimagining” of the initial — has a grittier edge, straight linking gentrification of New york city’s shanty towns in the 1950s to the 2 gangs fighting over their diminishing grass as if their lives depend on it. The casting and subtle touches, like not subtitling the Spanish discussion, likewise have substantially more cultural credibility than a duration where non-Latinx stars would be cast in critical functions.

As an included benefit, the filmmakers have not just consisted of Rita Moreno — an Oscar winner for the 1961 film — as the drug-store owner, however skillfully broadened that function in a manner that showcases her. If the intent was to supply a tip that the 89-year-old Moreno, a winner of every award possible, is a nationwide treasure, objective achieved.

Beyond that, the bones of “West Side Story,” itself influenced by Romeo and Juliet, stay quite undamaged, with the mix of jaunty tunes and lushly romantic ballads thanks to Sondheim and author Leonard Bernstein, in its terrible tale of love at very first sight.

Ansel Elgort and newbie Rachel Zegler play the star-crossed Tony and Maria, whose immediate infatuation is available in the middle of racial strife in between 2 gangs: the Sharks, headed by her bro Bernardo (David Alvarez), and the Jets, run by Tony’s long time friend Riff (Mike Faist), who’s perplexed by Tony’s desire to leave that ruthless life behind.

While the dance numbers are muscularly choreographed, Spielberg has actually tamped down a few of the magic associated with director Robert Wise’s variation, a choice obvious when Tony and Maria initially fulfill at the dance. At that time, the world stopped around them; here, they quietly pull back to a peaceful area behind the fitness center bleachers.

It’s no minor to the male cast members to state the females beat them. Zegler (who’ll follow this launching with another renowned function as Snow White) is favorably luminescent as Maria, and Ariana DeBose capably fills Moreno’s shoes as Anita, who has faith in pursuing an American dream that Bernardo and his competitors have actually quit hope of accomplishing.

Naturally, “West Side Story” has actually barely been inactive in the stepping in years, with phase revivals and more high-school productions than anybody might count. Yet Spielberg and Kushner have actually toed a fragile line in crafting a motion picture that shows fidelity to the initial while playing with it in manner ins which welcome contrasts to the variations — some totally rational, others a bit more approximate.

The movie marks the very first time Spielberg has actually taken on a musical in his storied and diverse profession, that makes the effort an event on that level. That he has actually done so in a year occupied by a number of others, consisting of “In the Heights” and “Tick, Tick … Boom!,” shows how cycles shift and the hunger for material has actually grown.

Eventually, “West Side Story” passes the “why” test and will likely leave fans disputing which variation they choose. Even those of the viewpoint there wasn’t a burning requirement for a renovate — reimagined or otherwise — need to conclude there’s a location for this one too.

“West Side Story” premieres in United States theaters on Dec. 10. It’s ranked PG-13.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.