“WEST SIDE STORY” Rated PG-13

 

 

WEST SIDE STORY” GREAT MUSIC AND DANCE; “ONE SHOT” ON DVD

A Film Review by Tim Riley

WEST SIDE STORY” Rated PG-13 Sixty years ago, the 1957 Broadway musical “West Side Story” was adapted to the big screen starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in the roles of star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet couple.Fast forward six decades and director Steven Spielberg brings his unique talent for a reimagining of the beloved musical that delights with a brilliant adaptation of the work of legends Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the respective creators of the music and lyrics.

Not only are the memorable songs so enticing and seductive, the choreographed scenes of the rival Jets and Sharks gangs prowling the rough streets of New York City’s Upper West Side and shifting randomly into electric dance moves are something to behold.Set in 1957 when urban renewal was replacing the neighborhood tenements to make way for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and other developments, the streets are a battleground for the Jets, a white gang, and their Puerto Rican rivals known as the Sharks.The putative leader of the Jets is rather bland Tony (Ansel Elgort), who comes across more like an Ivy League student than hardened street tough even though he served a prison term for nearly killing an immigrant.

The Sharks are under the command of Bernardo (David Alvarez), whose younger sister Maria (Rachel Zegler) becomes romantically linked with Tony in the Shakespearean-inspired young love that fuels a violent showdown of the opposing gangs.While Tony is trying to go straight by working at Doc’s Drugstore, which is now run by widow Valentina (Rita Moreno), the Jets find the volatile Riff (Mike Faist) more than willing to rumble for the sake of claiming turf that will soon be gentrified. Speaking of Rita Moreno, she’s a real treasure in this film, bridging the divide between the gangs as well as being an unrelated link to the past, considering she played the role of Bernardo’s girlfriend Anita in the original.

The tragedy of the love story is obvious to anyone familiar with the Shakespearean source material. What works well here is a romantic fairytale told with superb passion and intensity.Remember that the original “West Side Story” won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and that alone is a reason to marvel at Spielberg’s daring to take on the challenge of a remake, and yet the result is fits of apparent messaging that may diminish widespread appeal. In a world where so many films are rebooted to dwindling acclaim, was a remake of the iconic “West Side Story” essential? Probably not, because the original remains so fantastic but at least the radiant choreography and music of this updated version provide great pleasure.

ONE SHOT” ON DVD

Though he may not be a household name, Scott Adkins is making his mark as an action star in B-movies and that’s a good thing. After all, guys like Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris are now too old, and Charles “Death Wish” Bronson is no longer with us.With martial arts skills similar to those of more famous B-grade action stars, Adkins has had supporting roles in big pictures like “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.” Soon he’ll be seen in the next “John Wick” sequel.Punching above his weight to get to the next level of action stardom, Adkins portrays Navy SEAL Lt. Blake Harris as a fearless warrior reduced to a one-man army when faced with holding the line against cutthroat insurgents.

An emergency situation compels Harris to lead an elite squad of fellow SEALs and junior CIA analyst Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene Khoury) to retrieve a detainee from a CIA black site on a remote island that resembles the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.The mission appears simple enough. Disembark from the chopper and retrieve suspected terrorist mastermind Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) for interrogation about the location of a dirty bomb set to destroy the three branches of government in Washington, D.C.Yet, we know things won’t go smoothly. First problem is the base’s chief officer Jack Yorke (Ryan Phillippe) who refuses to release the detainee based solely on the intel provided by Anderson.

Before the internal squabbling subsides, a band of ruthless mercenaries led by particularly nasty and brutal Charef (Jess Liaudin), who looks like a UFC cage fighter, invades the island determined to kill Mansur and snuff out any chance he’ll divulge terrorist secrets.There’s no way that Adkins would take a role where he would not shoot, stab, kick and punch his way to eliminating the hordes of villains armed with AK-47s and an endless supply of ammo.

Filmed as a nonstop take, “One Shot” fashions a relentless battle with mercenaries where the tension continues to mount as Harris and the soldiers on the base face increasingly difficult odds for survival.The perceptive B-movie aficionado who appreciates that Scott Adkins, who also appeared in “The Expendables 2,” is hell-bent on delivering the goods will not be disappointed by the taut action of “One Shot.”