Steven Spielberg knows how to stage a movie and deliver. In this instance the remake that he’s counting on appeals to a younger audience that doesn’t know the stage play or original movie. It’s all perfectly fine for West Side Story, as long as you can forget not to remind yourself this iteration is supposed to be a holiday blockbuster.
The direction is the typical competence we’ve grown to expect. The downside is it sometimes comes across as more calculated than innovative. There are no subtitles for the Spanish language sequences that leave the majority of the audiences making their best guess. Some parts were overthought and reworked and didn’t make sense. How can you edit a song like “I Feel Pretty” in a department store playing with the displays right after the knifing scene and Bernardo being killed? You’ve just witnessed a terribly violent scene, which can no longer resonate because cut to Maria and coworkers chirping about “Feeling Pretty”. And then she later sleeps with the person who killed her brother. ON THE SAME NIGHT! How can you expect us to attach ourselves to such characters?
This remake is too aware of itself and lacks atmosphere and tension. The new cast is not very believable, a bunch of performing arts graduates. There’s no grit, it’s all very Glee meets High Street Musical. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed myself. It was at times entertaining and professionally done but I wondered how many people today understood the story.
Overall, it definitely isn’t lighting a candle to the original. I think the cast did a great job singing and dancing but the plot is too cheesy. I think it serves more of a purpose for the younger generation to have a chance to see a classic remade. Hopefully, they enjoy it enough to see and feel the emotions and magic which I could hardly find.