‘West Side’ adaptation goes toe to toe with predecessor

By Alisha Durosier, student life editor

Renowned director Steven Spielberg has attempted to repackage “West Side Story,” a 64 year old classic that has received such critical acclaim that it has the impression of being ultimately untouchable. 

I think he did an okay job. 

While the differences between the two versions are undeniably evident, Speilberg did mostly a good job of picking and choosing which elements of the original this film should stay true to (some decisions were questionable).

The 2021 adaptation of “West Side Story” gave light to many to the motives of the rival gangs, something that the original sort of glossed over and was overall written better than the 1961 version.

Visually, “West Side Story” keeps your eyes busy, from the vibrant colors of the aged sets and costume design, all accentuated by the dazzling color grading, to the powerful dance numbers choreographed by Justin Peck, where actors flowed together effortlessly and seamlessly. 

Many of the performances were equally as vivid, mainly from the supporting cast, similar to the original film. 

David Alvarez’s Bernardo and Ariana DeBose’s Anita had amazing on screen chemistry, their performances, even as stand alone characters, demanding the attention of viewers. 

Casting DeBose’s as Anita was a great ode to her predecessor, Rita Moreno (who took the place of Doc in this adaptation), who won an Oscar for her role as the same character. Mike Faust also delivered an unforgettable performance as Riff, one of Tony’s right hand men.

These electrifying performances made to those of Rachel Zegler (Maria) and Ansel Elgort (Tony) quite underwhelming. 

Maria and Tony, even in the 1961 film, were never the most interesting characters. If it was Spielberg’s goal to highlight the dullness of the characters with even blander acting performances, he succeeded.

The two leads, who are supposed to be passionately in love with one another, have zero chemistry. And they are just as charmless together as they were by themselves, Their supporting characters outshined them.

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