Steven Spielberg's West Side Story finally lands in cinemas in just a few days, and the first reactions from those lucky enough to have seen it early are in. Avid fans of the original, you can breathe a sigh of relief now, as they seem to be hugely positive, too.
Starring Baby Driver's Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, the musical follows teenagers Tony and Maria, who fall in love in 1950s New York – just like in the 1957 stage production by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and the Oscar-winning film adaptation that was released in 1961.
There's one big problem, though. The pair each have their own associations with rival street gangs: the Sharks, from Puerto Rico, and the white Jets. (Yes, it was inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet).
Rita Moreno, who appeared in the original movie, has a supporting role and is an executive producer. The Prom's Ariana DeBose, Spotlight's Brian d'Arcy James, Billy Elliot: The Musical's David Alvarez, Dear Evan Hansen's Mike Faist and Ant-Man's Corey Stoll round out the cast.
When a story is as beloved as West Side Story, and a big-screen outing as popular as the new one's predecessor – it won ten Oscars, including Best Picture! – it always seems like a bit of a risk to remake it, even for legendary filmmakers like Spielberg.
The film received its World Premiere in New York on Monday (November 29), however, and those who have now seen the 2021 version seem to have been bowled over by the "tremendous", "phenomenal" and "extraordinary" do-over.
Check out some of the first reactions to the new movie below...
Steven Spielberg’s #WestSideStory is a TRIUMPH! It's beautiful & brilliantly photographed - a real love letter to NYC w/ a tremendous ensemble cast who truly redefine this classic story for a new generation. Shout outs to @rachelzegler & @ArianaDeBose who CRUSH it in this film. pic.twitter.com/9wJbUJclnV
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) November 30, 2021
#WestSideStory is EXTRAORDINARY. 10 more Oscars please! #Spielberg's cam work is UNREAL- directors pls watch! The CAST- megatalented megawatt energy balls! @rachelzegler is magic @ArianaDeBose may be the 2nd Anita 2 win🏆#MikeFaist #DavidAlvarez r lightning! LOVED the love story! pic.twitter.com/ErFQ8Oke50
— Nikki Novak (@NikkiNovak) November 30, 2021
I saw the new West Side Story tonight and WOW it is spectacular. Sweeping, emotional, remarkable staging, each shot looks like a painting, and I swear I didn’t breathe until the credits.
— Alex Wyse (@alexwyse) November 29, 2021
A shocker: I didn’t dislike Spielberg’s #WestSideStory. It’s not a patch on the original (what is?). People’s skin are rendered way too pale. And the VFX is jarring. But Ariana DeBose and her evocative eyes were incredible. So were Rita Moreno and David Alvarez. Ansel? Eh. pic.twitter.com/OwEPlVuv4L
— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) November 30, 2021
I’m in awe at how phenomenal WEST SIDE STORY is.
Steven Spielberg makes it look easy — but every frame of this film is him at the top of his game.
There’s not a misstep — figuratively or literally.
Oh, and @rachelzegler is about to be one of the biggest stars on the planet. pic.twitter.com/9tZ0yZpPBj
— Jake Hamilton (@JakesTakes) November 30, 2021
Hot damn. So, yes, as it turns out, Steven Spielberg knows how to make a WEST SIDE STORY movie
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) November 30, 2021
Steven Spielberg’s #WestSideStory is stunning. His first musical is without a doubt superior to the 1961 film. The cinematography, music and dancing are amazing, and most importantly, it treats Puerto Ricans & Latinx community with the respect they deserve. Spielberg delivers. pic.twitter.com/3tb7eSvbzM
— Fico (@FicoCangiano) November 30, 2021
I was hoping that WEST SIDE STORY (2021) would sate my decades-long desire for Spielberg to do a musical. Alas, it is so beautifully shot and staged, such an absolute schooling of the usual musical directors, that I fear I now want him to make two or three more.
— Jesse Hassenger (@rockmarooned) November 30, 2021
There’s no day quite like new Spielberg day. #WestSideStory is magical. The choreography is off the charts, it’s filmed beautifully, and there are some wonderful performances happening throughout (including Rita Moreno). But Rachel Zegler, she blew me away as Maria. pic.twitter.com/XBL9VOPK7P
— Chris E. Hayner (@ChrisHayner) November 30, 2021
West Side Story will be released in US and UK cinemas on December 10.
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