The Jets and Sharks rumble again


The strong smell of buttery popcorn fills the air as the doors to the movie theater open. Cold drinks are put in the hands of excited viewers as they follow the rows of stairs leading the way to the perfect seat. The overhead lights dim as bright colors fill the room as the Jets and the Sharks find themselves, once again, in the streets of New York on the big screen.  

“West Side Story” is a musical spin on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Two teens find themselves falling in love at first sight, despite having ties to rivaling gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Their relationship is strained as the two groups battle for control in their town. Tony Wyzek, played by Ansel Elgort, is a member of the Jets, whom he considers his family. He falls into a forbidden love when meeting María Nunez, played by Rachel Zegler, who is the sister of the Shark’s leader. 

“I really liked the movie because of the good songs, and I loved the twist on ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ I think it helped to create the great storyline that it has,” Hadley Duplantis, sophomore, said.  

Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins directed the first “West Side Story” film in 1961. In 2018, Steven Spielberg was hired to co-direct Tony Kushner’s screenplay remake of “West Side Story” that wrapped up filming in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its release was pushed back to Dec. 2021. 

“I loved it because the story was well developed, and I am so happy it was a late release because it built up my anticipation,” Jack Turner, freshman, said. 

The “West Side Story” remake and the original have a similar storyline, but the new version contains a few changes. In the first movie, Wyzek and the Jets are considered the good guys, and Riff Lorton, head of the Jets, appears to be a loyal friend. The new version, however, depicts Lorton as a toxic leader who is trying to bring Wyzek down the wrong path with him. Unlike the original, the 2021 movie casted a Latina actress to play the role of Nunez. The songs and parts of the choreography from the new film are similar to those in the original but are paired with modern twists. Even with the changes, “West Side Story” ‘21 did well with a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.8 out of 10 on IMDb. 

“The new movie brings respect and focus on the Sharks and their community – all played by Latino actors – as working toward the American dream,” USA Today said in an article. 

It is not too late to see Spielberg and Kushner’s “West Side Story” in theaters, though it will eventually be streamed on HBO Max and Disney+.