‘West Side Story’ (2021) Blu-Ray Review – Spielberg Brings New Life To A Classic Musical

Directed by Academy Award® Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Tony Kushner, “West Side Story” tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. This reimagining of the beloved musical stars Ansel Elgort (Tony); Ariana DeBose (Anita); David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); with Rita Moreno (as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works); and introducing Rachel Zegler (Maria.) Moreno – one of only three artists to be honored with Academy®, Emmy®, GRAMMY®, Tony® and Peabody Awards – also serves as one of the film’s executive producers. 

For in-depth thoughts on West Side Story (2021), please see my colleague Tia Fabi’s review from its original theatrical release here

Video Quality

West Side Story (2021) debuts on Blu-Ray with an AVC encoded 1080p presentation in 2.39:1 that does an excellent job of bringing this world to life. Shot on 35mm film and converted to a 4K DI, the nuance of the film is immediately clear and stunning. Skin tones appear natural with healthy doses of crisp detail apparent on faces such as pores and occasional cuts. The film grain resolves naturally and looks quite organic throughout. The range of the color spectrum is impressive within the world Spielberg has chosen to construct with DP Janusz Kaminski. From beginning to end, the disc delivers stable, dazzling colors within the production design and costumes which really blow you away. The highlights in the film are finely delineated with whites pure and balanced with no instances of blooming to be found, even inside the intentional lens flares. Elements in the film taking place in the cover of shadows are more vivid and stable. The black levels are especially strong in this presentation, staying deep and inky with great detail. This Blu-Ray release pushes the format to its limits in terms of technical excellence. There is a 4K UHD Blu-Ray also available that was not offered to me for review. 

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Audio Quality

This disc comes equipped with a magnificent DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio track that absolutely dazzles from beginning to end. From the opening number the soundscape is set to deliver an expansive experience suitable for a joyous musical. Sounds are appropriately rendered with precise directionality from the more kinetic numbers in the heart of the neighborhood to interpersonal moments of dialogue. Ambient details are plentiful and quite satisfying in the surround channels. Music is the lifeblood of this film, and it envelopes the room with an urgency befitting the narrative. Dialogue is presented perfectly clear without ever being overwhelmed by any of the competing sonic elements. The low end is engaged in a really solid way that will have your house moving and shaking along with the dancers. The mix offers up the best experience for those with the home theater system to support it. Those with an interest in upgraded audio will want to check out the 4K UHD Blu-Ray for a Dolby Atmos presentation.

Special Features

  • The Story Of West Side Story: A truly miraculous 97-minute documentary which tackles the legacy of the original stage musical as well as the Oscar-winning film, the decision to bring this material to the screen again, the effort that went into making it a reality, the development and execution of various sequences, the nuances of the performances, the rehearsal of various moments and more. This is not the type of supplemental package we get very often these days, so fans should be quite pleased by the level of access they are given to these moments. 
    • Opening (3:46)
    • Prologue (7:54)
    • Sharks & Jets (11:30)
    • Dance At The Gym (9:42)
    • The Romance (6:49)
    • America (7:51)
    • Gee, Officer Krupke (8:50)
    • Cool (7:46)
    • From Quintet To The Rumble (9:31)
    • I Feel Pretty (6:04)
    • Somewhere (8:02)
    • Finale (7:02)
    • Tribute (1:57)
  • The Songs: An easy way to jump to songs featured in the film. 
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'With Love And A Major Organ' Review - High-Concept Drama Has Surprises In Spades


Final Thoughts

West Side Story (2021) is a film that many claimed was unnecessary, but leave it to Steven Spielberg to craft a feature that rivals the original Best Picture-winning classic. The film is more than just a win for representation on screen because of the depth of the new screenplay from Tony Kushner. While there are certain members of the cast that could and should have easily been excised, for the most part these performers are firing on all cylinders. Disney Home Entertainment has given this film a Blu-Ray release featuring a fantastic A/V presentation and a truly marvelous amount of special features. While there were initial doubts about the necessity of another take on this material, the film has proved itself to be one worthy of adding to your collection, although you may want to go for the 4K UHD option if you are capable. Recommended 

West Side Story (2021) is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Disney Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.


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