Reviews are now out for Steven Spielberg’s Remake of West Side Story. So far, critics are praising Spielberg’s version of this classic musical, calling it a great update that still pays homage to the original version from 1961. With 40 reviews thus far on Rotten Tomatoes, West Side Story currently holds a 93% critic score, however, this will definitely change as more reviews come in.
The 1961 version of West Side Story is acclaimed as one of the best movie musicals of all time and even won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It’s safe to say that there is a high bar to meet when remaking something so highly regarded. Many critics in their reviews say that the 2021 remake doesn’t surpass the original, but that Spielberg does update West Side Story in ways that are improvements while still keeping the spirit of the original.
The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde wrote in his review, “Spielberg and Kushner give the venerable property a new paint job, secure a few walls, move a few windows and ultimately build their own edifice from the legendary Broadway musical.”
Another aspect of the film that critics seem to be unanimous on is the performances by Rachel Zegler as Maria and Ariana Debose as Anita. This is Zegler’s first cinematic performance and she is already set for stardom as she has also been cast as Snow White in Disney’s live-action Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Debose appeared in Netflix’s The Prom and the Apple TV+ musical series Schmigadoon!.
Brian Truitt of USA Today said in his review “With outstanding performances from newcomer Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose, Spielberg’s take doesn’t stray too far from the original 1957 ‘Romeo & Juliet’-inspired Broadway musical or the 1961 best picture winning-film, but is rather a more authentic, dynamic and thoughtful revamp.”
While critics seem to be loving the movie overall, one thing that critics are mixed on in their reviews is the performance of Ansel Elgort as Tony. Tom Beasley in a tweet wrote “I really loved #WestSideStory, which feels very classical and overflows with style. Two and a half hours flies by. Ariana DeBose is a ferocious highlight and Rachel Zegler makes a confident debut. Ansel Elgort, though, feels miscast and often looks downright lost.”
I really loved #WestSideStory, which feels very classical and overflows with style. Two and a half hours flies by. Ariana DeBose is a ferocious highlight and Rachel Zegler makes a confident debut. Ansel Elgort, though, feels miscast and often looks downright lost.
— Tom Beasley (@TomJBeasley) November 30, 2021
The rest of the cast in West Side Story includes Maddie Ziegler, Mike Falst, David Alvarez, and Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film. West Side Story is set to hit theaters on Dec. 10.