Director; Steven Spielberg. Starring; Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose. Rated PG-13. Color. 156 Minutes.
The plot concerning “West Side Story” is very well known. In its original form, this was an interpretation of the biggest Shakespearean play of all time. While this latest of the broadway musical is not as offensive to humanity as say “The Sound of Music”, it is not too far off from the idea of simply being passible. No question “West Side Story” is vastly better made than its award winning predecessor. At the same time, when gangsters yell “JETS!” towards their teammates during a knife fight, the elusion of suspense is instantly thrown out the window.
Ansel Elgort plays the ‘Romeo’ here named Tony. He is a former gangster fresh out of jail trying to get his still young life back together. Not against Elgort as an actor personally, but as a gangster he does not necessarily instill fear into ones heart. The biggest debacle plot wise is a white gang from the 1950’s New York burrows, AKA the ‘Jets’, who are not cool with the growing population of Puerto Rican citizens. Blood is being spilled on the streets between the two groups who are battling over nothing.
The main character star-crossed lovers fall for each other as the story goes, after a simple glance. Tony (Elgort) is floored the moment he sees Marie (Rachel Zegler). The ‘tale as old as time’ romance begins behind the high school bleachers. Too bad the gangster crews surrounding this upstart integrated New York neighborhood gets in the way. A white-as-they-come boy getting involved with a Puerto Rican princess will clearly not sit well for multiple parties in this story.
As opposed to the nonsensical original Best Picture Oscar winner, the latest version of “West Side Story” does have some amicable characteristics. The racial undertones in the current “BUILD A WALL” culture are made very clear. Not all of the musical numbers are nonsense, despite the opening debacle of a gang fight. The prom scene that results in the rival gangs dancing things out while your two leads fall in love is textbook broadway material that will have you celebrating in your seat. The real standout is Mike Faist as Riff. This dynamo performer lights up every frame when he is onscreen.
“West Side Story” is no doubt crafted by the best of the best in filmmaking in terms of pure logistics. This is not a movie in which those making it were intentionally doing a bad job. Unfortunately, the late Leonard Berstein wrote a musical about rival street gangs based on a Shakespeare play that for some reason became a phenomenon. No argument from me as far as the technical quality of this picture. It is the re-make of its source material that is the crux of why “West Side Story” is simply not that good.
Suck Factor: 4 out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
The SUCK FACTOR! How it works. We have flipped the script on the standard ratings system. If you make a masterpiece such as “The Godfather” your movie receives 0 SUCKS! If you create garbage such as Michael Bay frequently does, you receive a not so perfect 7 out of 7 SUCKS!