West Side Story

Director: Steven Spielberg
Year Released: 2021
Rating: 2.0

For his first musical feature, Spielberg takes the 1957 work (by Robbins, Bernstein, Sondheim and Laurents adapting the Bard) and attempts to put a "modern" spin on it: once again the Jets (led by Ansel Elgort and Mike Faist) get into a "turf war" with the Sharks (with David Alvarez as Bernardo), with young love blossoming (between Elgort and Rachel Zegler) amidst the violence.  The 1961 screen adaptation never really did much for me, and sadly the same can be said here: the direction and cinematography are excellent (which is to be expected at this point), but whenever Spielberg tries to handle social issues he can't help but fumble the proverbial ball, like how he tries to "take on" issues like racism (which he also did with The Color Purple) and the transgender movement (with the character of Anybodys).  The main romance between Elgort and Zegler doesn't quite work either (love at first sight and all that) ... plus, who knew that killing your girlfriend's brother is the ultimate aphrodisiac?