We round up the reviews for Steven Spielberg’s new version of the classic musical.

WhatsOnStage: ***** “But while this glitz and refined panache will no doubt get a hefty wad of praise, kudos must also go to Kushner himself for his screenplay – taking Arthur Laurents’ subject matter and, while retaining its immense heart and truth, embellishing with brilliant details and novelty. This is by no means a carbon copy of the film seen 60 years ago.”

The Guardian: ***** “Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story 2.0 is an ecstatic act of ancestor-worship: a vividly dreamed, cunningly modified and visually staggering revival. No one but Spielberg could have brought it off, creating a movie in which Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics blaze out with fierce new clarity.”

Hollywood Reporter: “While many wondered about Spielberg’s chutzpah in tackling a movie musical widely regarded as an ageless classic, his richly satisfying remake gives this version a resplendent life of its own.”

Entertainment Weekly: “No matter how poignant or pointedly reworked, West Side Story is still high Hollywood fantasy: Where else outside of a sound stage can turf wars be resolved with a warbled melody and a kick-ball-change? But it feels like a rare achievement to even attempt to scale the unscalable and still, after more than half a century, be able to make it sing.”

The Independent: *** “Spielberg’s film is a final tribute to Sondheim’s work. If it achieves anything, let it remind us of exactly who the world lost when the composer died last Friday.”

Empire: ***** “But it’s Spielberg who is the MVP. He keeps the expressionist colours and bold shapes of the ’61 film but opens out the stage to the real world, mixing showy shots, like the stretching shadows of the Jets and Sharks meeting on a battlefield, and lived-in communities, like the giant street party that is ‘America’, without losing sight of the emotion. Let’s hope this is the first and not the only Spielberg musical.”

Time Out: ***** “Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner (a Pulitzer prize winner for Angels in America) untap fierce new resonance in the story’s treatment of immigration, race, gender, masculinity and gentrification.”

Indie Wire: ” It’s a wonderful musical, and an unabashed Steven Spielberg movie. And the moments in which it most comfortably allows itself to be both of those things at once leave you convinced that some harmonies are worth waiting for, even if it seems like they’ve been always been around the corner and whistling down the river.”

The Wrap: “Over the course of a long and often distinguished career, Spielberg has offered clues that he was willing and able to make a musical, from the breathless jitterbug sequence in “1941” to Kate Capshaw crooning “Anything Goes” (in Mandarin) with a kick-line of tap-dancing chorus girls in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” He’s finally gotten to apply his know-how to one of the great musicals of all time, and the dare has paid off. Contemporary filmmakers who embrace the genre but who hide their lack of expertise behind excessive editing and auto-tuning have just had a gauntlet thrown down.”

The Telegraph: ***** “The director’s first musical feels as definitive as the previous screen adaptation and a timely testament to the genius of Stephen Sondheim.”

BBC.com: ***** “Directed by Steven Spielberg at his most masterful, with a smartly-conceived screenplay by Tony Kushner and crisp new choreography by Justin Peck, the film honours the production’s roots while giving it a 21st-Century sensibility. Full of energy, wit, passion and tragedy, looking backward and forward at once, it is one of the most moving films of the year.”


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