Though it didn’t bomb by any means, Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” wasn’t exactly a box office smash either. It still topped the weekend charts crossing the $10 million marker. But it didn’t runaway with a huge lead like many believed it would.
The reimagined classic is filled with song and dance. Much more intricate than the 1961 version starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. And critics praised Spielberg for the project.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story line, we’ll give you a brief rundown. It all begins when Tony (Ansel Elgort) sees Maria (Rachel Zegler). He spots her for the first time at a dance in New York City. He’s lovestruck by the beauty queen. But to his dismay, she’s involved in a world which rivals his. Their love story is encapsulated by two rival gangs: the Sharks and Jets. This gets the couple into a world of trouble as each warring side fights for control of the NYC streets. The entire film is a commentary on social class, violence and love.
Further, the project was put on the back burner for some time, according to Cinema Blend. Spielberg was hoping for a better opening weekend. But the good news is that there’s definitely interest. It would seem that musicals are here to stay – and delight us all in the process.
Critical Acclaim for ‘West Side Story’
Additionally, critics seem to think the film will have a slow burn effect as people recognize its relevance in our current cultural climate today.
“It’s not just stunning (and low-key horrifying) how relevant the social themes of the piece are when looking at what we are dealing with in our society today – particularly in regards to class warfare, policing, gentrification, and immigration – but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a recreation. Watching the film, you wonder if Spielberg got access to time travel technology and just decided not to tell anybody about it,” one critic write.
Another praises Spielberg for taking on the project but still lending nods to the masterpiece of the original production.
“The basic plot remains the same as the classic 1957 Broadway musical, taking William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet and transposing it into mid-1950s New York, but what’s accomplished as far as exploring the cinematic art form is utterly breathtaking. In his latest collaboration with screenwriter Tony Kushner and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (among others), Spielberg has created one of his most spellbinding works to date, both visually and aurally – replete with spectacular sequences and an ensemble cast that is truly phenomenal…”
Still unsure about “West Side Story” in 2021? Well, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself. Either way, there’s one thing we can all agree on, even if musicals aren’t your thing. The choreography and dancing in the film is mesmerizing and definitely worth a watch. Even if it’s only once.