Based on the well-known Broadway musical (1957), West Side Story (2021) explores various themes and stories, including a dangerous rivalry between two street gangs of different ethnicity. One gang calls themselves the Jets and the other the Sharks. On the flip side, West Side Story is also about a pair of young lovers named Tony (Ansel Elgort) & Maria (Rachel Zegler), who are forbidden to pursue their dreams and desires. Things only worsen when the two teenage gangs realise Tony and Maria’s relationship is possibly growing into something bigger. Tension rises within the city streets.
For those who are not aware, West Side Story was released on Broadway in 1957 and then adapted into an award-winning movie in 1961. Now it has been adapted for the screen again in 2021. West Side Story is a musical filled with drama, crime and, most importantly, romance.
It’s evident the director Steven Spielberg has set out to do something he’s never done before: a musical. For the most part, I’m excited to say the director succeeds in many areas with the selection of cast and filming style, capturing dance sequences and dramatic tension wonderfully. The costumes and locations are flawless and feel realistic, suiting a setting of the mid-’50s.
Leading performances from Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, who play the forbidden lovers, are great. The chemistry between the two is highly believable, and they deliver touching and heartfelt moments whenever they share the screen. Musical numbers are performed well, and I found myself having a great time. While the dialogue helps us understand the characters and storyline, the musical numbers were easily the best aspect of this film. I was impressed by the level of talent and entertainment on-screen.
Unfortunately, while I have lots of praises for this film, I have major issues with one aspect- the pacing. The film takes a long time to get underway, and engagement is much higher in the second act. The third act also feels longer than it should be, and sadly, the runtime is felt significantly. Thankfully, the final moments are strong and unforgettable, even more so for those who have never seen the film or are unaware of the story.
Overall, I truly admired that director Steven Spielberg has set himself a challenge of doing his first musical, and for the most part, his work yet again is as impressive as expected. The film has a wonderful style, delivering fun entertainment along with many heartfelt and dramatic moments. Costume designs and leading performances are wonderful, and the musical numbers are a major highlight, delivering fun through the impressive talent on screen. With so much to brag about, I am saddened to see the film’s biggest flaw is pacing. The film drags on in key areas, including the opening act, and audiences will feel the runtime as the film enters its conclusion.
Brilliant, thanks Walkden Entertainment! I’m always a little scared when my favourite musicals are made into movies, but I’m excited to see this one 🙂
I’ll make the effort to get out and see this one on the big screen.
Thanks Dee, I hope you enjoy the film on the big screen! (I’m sure you will!)