Sakamoto Reviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
🎶Just beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat it🎶
West Side Story is an adaptation of a play that's a rip off of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. This is a favorite among many people in the film criticism department however to me it felt like the average musical that rips off a popular story even if it is done pretty well.
The Pros: The choreography is nothing short of amazing, feeling more like a studio play than just some doofus’s following their 1,2 steps. They do a rather great job of incorporating the dancing with the scene as well as making the cinematography work with the music, I found that very impressive. The songs are also very iconic, especially ‘I Feel Pretty’. The film isn’t afraid to tackle very crude social issues that unfortunately still exist today such as racism and how any and everybody is capable of doing terrible things from behind that juvenile mentality. Everything story wise I like however that has mainly to do with it being an adaptation of Shakespeares so I’m hesitant to give the credit to the movie.
The Cons: As stated before, the narrative is a carbon copy of one of the worlds most popular tales Romeo & Juliet and if you’re here for that story then you’re better off just watching or reading that rather than some West Side goobers dance battling. Also the singing wasn’t anything to sing praises for.🥁 The actors hit their notes however it all felt very out of element, I always got the impression these were dancers first and singers second. The acting wasn’t all the engaging either, I had a hard time believing in Tony’s and Maria’s romance and I also had a hard time believing any of the extras when they did speak. Also-brown face galore. I’m not super conscious of this in most movies but when it’s noticeable, my god. Just cast ethnically accurate actors, you don’t have to be spot on but it’s better than nothing.
I totally see why people recognize this as a classic and I do think it’s above average but if musicals aren’t your thing then you might not dig this, same if you learned about Romeo & Juliet in school. That being said if you are curious I’ll always encourage people to step out of their comfort zone, you may find something to appreciate that I couldn’t.