West Side Story (2021)
|Released:||Friday, December 10, 2021|
|Studio:||20th Century Studios|
|Rating:||Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.|
West Side Story Synopsis
An adaptation of the original Broadway musical, WEST SIDE STORY explores young love and tensions between rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks on the streets of 1957 New York. The cast also includes Ansel Elgort (Tony); Rachel Zegler (Maria); Ana Isabelle (Rosalia); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); Curtiss Cook (Abe) and Academy Award®-winner Rita Moreno, who plays Valentina and also serves as one of the film’s Executive Producers. The film is now in production for Twentieth Century Fox and The Walt Disney Studios.
WEST SIDE STORY is produced and directed by Steven Spielberg from a script by Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The film has been adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical, which was written by Arthur Laurents with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Tony Award®-winner Justin Peck will choreograph the musical numbers in the film. Also leading the production are Tony Award®-winning producer Kevin McCollum and Academy Award®-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger.
The film’s music team includes renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who will helm the recording of Bernstein’s iconic score; Academy Award®-nominated composer and conductor David Newman (Anastasia) who will be arranging the score for the new adaptation; Tony Award®-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Broadway’s Fun Home and Thoroughly Modern Millie), who will be working with the cast on vocals; and Grammy®-nominated music supervisor Matt Sullivan (Beauty and the Beast, Chicago), who will serve as executive music producer for the film.
West Side Story images are © 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
West Side Story to Debut on Disney+ on March 2 2/9/2022 10:29 AM EST
Disney+ has announced that Steven Spielberg's award-winning, critically-acclaimed "West Side Story," will debut on the streamer in the U.S. and most international countries on March 2. The film will launch in Taiwan on March 9 and Japan on March 30."West Side Story" has been nominated for 7 Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Ariana DeBose) and 11 Cri... More>>
West Side Story 4K Review
It may seem difficult to believe but it has been almost seventy-five years since Jerome Robbins (On the Town) conceived the idea and shared the concept of bringing a modern version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Broadway as a musical. It took another eight years for the idea to be realized when, after some changes and revisions, it debuted on Broadway. In 1958 it was nominated for six Tony Awards and won two.
Four years later the movie adaptation, starring Natalie Wood (Rebel Without a Cause), Richard Beymer (Twin Peaks), George Chakiris (Meet Me in Las Vegas), and Rita Moreno (The King and I) premiered and won ten out of the eleven Oscars it was nominated for, including best picture. At the time an eleven-year-old named Steven fell in love with the story and music and sixty years later, Academy Award-winning director, Steven Spielberg released a remake, which has been nominated for seven Academy Awards this year, including best picture. This week, the latest version of West Side Story hits stores on Blu-ray and 4K.
Like Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Marie are doomed lovers. They are from two different worlds even though they live within a ten-block radius from each other in New York City. She is a Puerto Rican Immigrant, and he is an American who was part of a gang (The Jets) that hates the new immigrants and their gang (The Sharks). Despite resistance and objections from everyone around them, Tony and Maria are determined to be together. Sadly, so often when there is hate there is violence, and their story ultimately ends in tragedy.
The 1961 version is so iconic that it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the roles of Maria, Tony, Bernardo, and Anita but Spielberg found some young talent that do their best. Rachel Zegler, who plays West Side Story’s Maria, is an incredible find. Her talent knows no bounds as her acting is only outshined by her singing which is excellent. Surprisingly, Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) is cast as Tony, and he does a good job overall but is upstaged by Zegler. The surprise is that Elgort can really sing…who knew!?!?!
Broadway talent Ariana DeBose steps into the role of Anita but she has some big shoes to fill. For younger audiences, they will probably find her to be very good but for those who saw the original film will compare her to Moreno and Moreno wins hands down. Interestingly, Moreno plays Valentina, Doc’s widow who runs the drug store. She also executive produces the film and incorporating her into the updated production was a smart move for Spielberg.
The remake, put together with a one hundred-million-dollar budget, had some production issues that are apparent on the 4K disc. The 2160p video quality is sharp and details are clean, but some scenes shot on a soundstage look incredibly fake which is distracting. The most blatant offenses are the scenes filmed to look as if the actors are at a demolition site.
Conversely, the Dolby Atmos audio is robust, layered, and rich sounding with depth laden throughout. Of course, one should expect no less from Bernstein and Sondheim’s intricate music and lyrics. The extras are housed on the Blu-ray disc and are lumped together in one big hour and a half long featurette called The Stories of West Side Story. Cast and crew interviews along with comparisons to the 1961 film are presented and offer some interesting facts.
If this had been a brand-new Spielberg movie, I would have said the production value, cast and plot are all strong and the film is entertaining. However, since this is a remake of a classic film that was a critical and box office success previously, comparisons will obviously be made, and I prefer the 1961 version over the 2021 version. It isn’t a bad movie; it just isn’t an improvement from the sixty-year-old story.
-- Allison Rose
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