Remaking one of the all-time great musicals is nothing if not a risky gambit given the original’s monolithic stature in the genre, but Steven Spielberg has more than earned the right to do whatever he wants, and what he wanted to do was update West Side Story.
Update might be the wrong word when the latest version is still set in the 1950s, but the legendary filmmaker will be utilizing plenty of modern techniques to put his own stamp on an undisputed classic. Very few talents would even contemplate the idea of mounting a brand new adaptation of a movie that won eleven Academy Awards from twelve nominations 60 years ago, but this is Spielberg we’re talking about.
He’s got three Oscars of his own from a grand total of seventeen nods, while he also happens to be the most commercially successful director in the history of cinema. Hopes are high, then, and the good news is that the early reactions to West Side Story are making it look as though the bearded one has delivered, as you can see below.
Of course, the first responses to any film are typically of an overwhelmingly enthusiastic nature, but you’d have to be an idiot to doubt Spielberg at this stage of his career. Nobody is as comfortable at flitting seamlessly between prestige pictures and broad crowd-pleasers, with West Side Story shaping up to be an ideal combination of both.