When Steven Spielberg first began to talk about his desire to remake the iconic West Side Story, people weren’t quite sure what to make of it. While Spielberg’s talent is undeniable, taking on such a project, and a musical to boot, was something fans and critics were far from convinced would work. However, critics have been calling the remake a masterpiece, and as it turns out, fans feel much the same way.
While the new West Side Story didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, it seems that those who have seen the movie are just as in love with everything about it as the critics. It’s difficult to undersell the love affair that social media is having with this movie.
The New West Side Story Is Even Better Than The Original, Maybe?
One of the biggest strikes against a new West Side Story going in was the fact that we already had a film version of the musical that people already loved. It’s one of the movies that a lot of people think is perfect. So the highest possible praise one could give the new movie is that some fans think the new West Side Story is actually better than the first film.
Of course Steven Spielberg was able to remake one of the most ICONIC movie musicals of all time and actually make it BETTER than the original. This new 2021 version of #WestSideStory is a MASTERPIECE. I loved it! I loved it! I LOVED IT! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/MyOFka35UBDecember 10, 2021
If there’s a strike against the original, it’s that many of the actors playing Puerto Rican characters are actually white, including Natalie Wood as Maria. Her performance is excellent, but it may be the fact that the casting was a bit more on point this time around that makes this West Side Story sing just a little bit sweeter.
Better than the original. And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress goes to... Rita Moreno. #WestSideStory pic.twitter.com/Yz8S2ruCRQDecember 10, 2021
Whatever the reason, all any remake or adaptation can ever hope to do is add something new to the conversation; to cause an audience to look at the material in a new way or find a new theme to explore. Whatever West Side Story did right, it did it perfectly, giving people everything they wanted.
😱😱😱 The new #WestSideStory is so incredible that I think it is better than the original. The performance, the music, the dances are fantastic. This is not just one of the best musicals or one of the best films of the year, but one of Steven Spielberg's greatest films. pic.twitter.com/5966s742awDecember 10, 2021
While there’s clearly a lot to love about the new West Side Story, there are two people who are getting most of the credit for the movie’s success on screen.
Rachel Zegler Is Great, But Ariana DeBose Is The Real Star
There’s really nothing that any fans are criticizing about West Side Story, but there are a few things that are receiving specific praise. Chief among them are the performances of both Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose. Zegler was the one that seemed to be getting most of the press before the film’s release, but now most of the attention seems to belong to DeBose.
"How many spins?" @ArianaDeBose: Yes. #WestSideStory pic.twitter.com/oLJjnOwXdZDecember 12, 2021
Ariana DeBose is a relative newcomer whose biggest performance to date might be her role as “the bullet” in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton. Millions have now seen her there since the play arrived on Disney+, but she’s now absolutely exploded since then.
I haven’t stopped thinking about Ariana DeBose performance as Anita in #WestSideStory and THOSE. GORGEOUS. DRESSES! OMG, you can actually hear the fabric moving as she’s dancing! 😍 pic.twitter.com/V9e1T5tLxcDecember 10, 2021
To be clear, nobody has forgotten Rachel Zegler. Fans are in agreement that she is also amazing in her performance, and she’s getting the awards recognition to show it, but if there’s anything in West Side Story that is even better than the sound of Zegler’s voice, it’s Debose.
Takeaways from #WestSideStory - Mike Faist and Ariana DeBose were the MVP’s- Rachel Zegler’s voice wasINCREDIBLE- this feels more of an adaptation than a remake-Tony Kushners screenplay was great - Better than the original - Rest In Peace SondheimDecember 14, 2021
However, while there might be a couple of standout performances, nearly everything in West Side Story is receiving praise, and there’s really only one person who can get credit for that.
Steven Spielberg Has Truly Done It Again
To say that Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest film directors who has ever lived is not exactly a controversial statement. We all know Spielberg is amazing. From the pulp action of Indiana Jones to the heavy drama of Schindler’s List, we know what this director is capable of doing.
Having said that, while many of Spielberg’s recent films have received critical praise, just as many have been far from as warmly embraced. Few have been quite as overwhelming praised as West Side Story. There seems to be a general agreement that not only is this a great movie, but it’s one of the absolute best from this man.
Just watched West Side Story, and I know this is an extremely hot take that not many people will agree with, but...I think Steven Spielberg is very good at making moviesDecember 15, 2021
Steven Spielberg has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Director five times, and those five movies (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan) would probably be in everybody’s top five ranking of his movies. If the response to West Side Story is any indication, Spielberg may be getting ready for a sixth nomination, and your top five Spielberg movies might need to be reordered.
#WestSideStory is a revelation!! Director Steven Spielberg brings us one of his very best films ever!! This movie is filled with incredible dance sequences, unforgettable songs and gorgeous cinematography!! Go see this movie!!! pic.twitter.com/arIi9XiWM4December 10, 2021
Even with everything that we knew Steven Spielberg was capable of, there were still questions regarding his ability to handle a full musical. Those questions have been answered. Steven Spielberg truly can do it all, and what’s more, this might be the greatest work of his career.
Steven Spielberg proves that he is the best living director w/ this dazzling, splendid remake of #WestSideStory. He doesn’t try to best the original, but directs a more gritty version w/ great, heartfelt poignancy. Lovely lens flare of course. The leads are especially delightful! pic.twitter.com/TOj9EwdxyPDecember 11, 2021
It has to be said that the social media traffic regarding West Side Story doesn’t seem quite as plentiful as it does for other major releases. It’s clear that while those that have seen the movie love it, a lot of people have simply not seen it. Perhaps this will help convince those of you who didn't check out the movie to fix that minor oversight.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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