‘West Side Story’ First Reactions Praise the Classic Musical’s Reimagining as ‘Spectacular’ and ‘Top-Tier Spielberg’

·5-min read

The first reactions to 20th Century Studios’ “West Side Story” are beginning to pour in following the film’s premiere in New York City on Monday evening. Those who attended the screening took to social media, voicing praise for director Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of the classic musical.

In this new version, Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort portray Maria and Tony, whose ill-fated romance flags the fires of the bitter rivalry between local street gangs the Sharks and the Jets. The cast also includes Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo and Mike Faist as Riff. Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance as Anita in the 1961 film adaptation of the musical, appears in the remake in a new role and served as an executive producer. The remake was written by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) and marks Spielberg’s first feature length musical.

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Variety’s own executive editor of film and media Brent Lang called the film “bold and stirring.” He also voiced some criticism for Elgort’s lead performance before highlighting the overall production as a likely Oscar contender.

Chris Evangelista, chief film critic at /Film, hailed the film as “top-tier Spielberg.”

Film critic Robert Daniels prefaced his favorable opinion by declaring his surprise over having enjoyed the film. After voicing a few issues on the technical side, he highlighted the performances of DeBose, Moreno and Alvarez.

Thrillist senior entertainment writer Esther Zuckerman simply affirmed that Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner are not talents to be doubted.

Film critic Jesse Hassenger also enjoyed the film, highlighting the misfortune of there being no other Steven Spielberg-directed musicals on the immediate horizon.

See more reactions below.

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