Michael Jackson's This Is It Reviews
Since the project was first announced in August 2009, the new Michael Jackson "This Is It" documentary has been shrouded in mystery. Coveted by Media and fans alike, Sony pictures paid a cool $60 million to acquire (and put on instant lock down) Jackson's personal tapings of over 120 hours of rehearsal footage from his pending 50 show London comeback concert extravaganza.
The tightly protected behind-the-scenes insight from Jacksons April to June rehearsals was originally shot for prosperity, analysis and DVD release extras. However, it now stands as proof of his unwavering talent, a legacy for the fans, and memorial for his lifelong commitment to the music industry.
Remarkably unsentimental, the film shows Michael in his natural habitat, on Stage, doing what he loves, preparing how he planned to share it with the world.
Dazzling audiences for decades with thrilling dance moves and unstoppable tunes, MJ's ten year reclusive absence from the industry ended abruptly when on March 5, 2009 he appeared at press conference in London's O2 arena and announced "This Is It; my final concert tour".
The tour was supposed to begin on July 13 in London, however on June 25th less than three weeks out, in a shock to the world, Michael died. During rehearsals however, Michael had personally commissioned a small team to record the proceedings. This is almost the sole content that makes up "This Is It".
Chronologically following the format of the proposed concert, the 112 minute documentary takes us on a walk through of the creative procedure and the pattern in which 20 of his instantly recognizable hits would have played out.
Director Kenny Ortega (High School Musical's 1, 2 & 3, Hocus Pocus and Michael Jackson Memorial) works with Michael, the backup dancers, musicians and stage crew fine tuning every minute aspect. From sound cues, to complex choreography, to stage movement and motion, Ortega showcases the man's perfectionism, vivid imagination for showmanship and adoration for his colleagues.
The fly on the wall perspective cut between high-definition frames and lower-quality rehearsal footage was brought together in the editing room in an effort to project what the final onstage experience would have entailed. Including the shot prior to his departure, zombie laden "thriller" short film scene seamlessly injected later via 3D special effect, as well as a 1930's Chicago film noir recreation where MJ and Humphrey Bogart engage in interactive "Smooth Criminal" shoot out.
In the years building up to his comeback, Michael's body seemed frail and delicate, seemingly unable to withstand the rigorous schedule he was sure to endure. However, the footage captured shows him easily keeping up with backup dancers literally half his age, demonstrating them a trick or two on how to perfect his signature moves.
Sadly, some cynical critics have been instantly unflattering to this production. Calling its restrictive two week cinema engagement a successful marketing gimmick and a last ditch grab at recovering the money used by the studio during the original concert production.
Personally, I believe even with the hype of mainstream cinema and music these days, the people surrounding Michael are doing what he did best; breaking records. With the film opening simultaneously in over 99 countries and due to swell to over 120 within the next 48 hours, the standing ovation and intermittent bursts of clapping in my cinema's pre-screening last night speaks for itself.
The Verdict: Jackson, even with the extreme controversy surrounding his final years, deserved something to send his unearthly career and legacy into orbit. A lasting image of pop culture supremacy "This Is It" consists merely of pressed factory floor sweepings and does little justice to the man and the legend.
This modest and unpolished concert film acts as a time capsule of prosperity as a final humble memento, capturing that specific instant of history the world will always remember; Allowing Michael to bow out gracefully with just a sly little smile from the always performing King of Pop.
Published : The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication : 30.10.2009