Old 10-28-2009, 12:06 AM
Kenny Ortega's This Is It

This Is It (2009)

Before I begin, I have to start by saying that I have never been a hard-core Michael Jackson fan, so this review is coming from someone who only knows a very small percentage of his songs, and of those songs I know, there's a handful that I like. This includes songs like "Thriller" (in my opinion his best song, of the few I know), "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "Smooth Criminal." What we have here with "This Is It" is a film made by a fan, for the fans, so it becomes a little hard to judge, but I'll do my best.

"This Is It" was assembled from more than 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage that covers the last few months before Jackson was to start a new tour after he had been off the stage for quite a long time. This documentary allows us to witness his last few performances as he goes through song after song, including all of the one's I mentioned at the beginning of this review. It also includes brief interviews with dancers, technicians, musicians, and all the people who come together to put on a show of this magnitude.

The rehearsal footage is interesting for a little while, but after awhile, it felt like I had been over-saturated with footage of Jackson doing his usual dances. The songs that I was not familiar with are not ones that were particularly good, giving the film a bit of a "blah" feeling when he would perform these lesser-known songs.

The film felt like it was lacking any insight into the man who had recently been brought up in the news due to his tragic death, and a few years before that because of charges that had been brought against him involving children. Let's face it, he was always a strange character, but he certainly had talent, and a lot of that talent shows clearly in this film as he performs, particularly when he performs the songs that just about everyone, fans and non-fans alike, knows.

Some of the most interesting parts of the film don't even involve Jackson. The film opens by showing interviews with the backup dancers who can't believe that they are getting the chance to dance with the King of Pop onstage. It would have been interesting had the film come back to these dancers later to get their reactions after having done so, but sadly we never get to see it.

Something else that would have been interesting to see would have been some interviews with Michael Jackson himself and how he felt about going on tour again after having been off the stage for ten years, but unfortunately, we don't see any interviews with him. In fact, pretty much the only footage we see of Jackson is when he is performing or going over parts of the show with his crew.

This gives us a chance to see all that has to come together to make a show like this work. We get to watch as he works out cues with his musicians, usually coming in the form of a dance move culminating with a point. There are times when he has to explain several times exactly what he wants. One of his musicians praises him for knowing every bit of his songs, tempos and all, knowing exactly what he wants and how it should be. The behind-the-scenes work on the show makes it look like it would have been phenomenal had it gotten to be put on, particularly the beginning, which would have begun with Jackson emerging from a robot-like figure.

Other interesting moments of the film included the filming of special scenes that would have apparently played during the concert. We get to see the filming of some zombies in a graveyard for "Thriller," some soldiers for another number, and a long sequence where Jackson is digitally inserted into a black and white film with Humphrey Bogart for "Smooth Criminal."

Luckily, I got the chance to attend this film at a screening packed with fans of Michael Jackson's work, which allowed me to gauge their reaction to the film. It wasn't that hard to do with all of them clapping and cheering after every single song that Jackson performed. Others shouted at the screen, addressing Jackson directly, encouraging him.

So in the end, you'll have to take my rating with an asterisk next to it. For me, it was too much Michael Jackson in one sitting and not enough insight into the man and the people responsible for the show. For the loving fans, to whom the film is mainly directed, it was everything they were hoping for. 2.5/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 10-28-2009 at 12:56 AM..
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:27 PM
THIS IS IT review

well, to start off, MJ was a huge influence on me and one of the most talented and irreplacable individuals in entertainment history. so, there was no way i was gonna miss this movie. there was also no way i would have a problem with it either. but even though there were a few weak links, the whole expierence was entertaining, funny, poignant, thrilling, stylish and just plain celebratory MJ awesomeness from start to finish. everyone go see this until it leaves in 2 weeks. or at least get it on bluray at christmastime. it's a very important movie and it also sometimes feels like you are actually at a michael jackson concert. also, it was great to hear all the songs again with all the great dancers backing MJ up. well done to everyone involved because somewhere up there, MJ is moonwalking around heaven with a smile. JAMONA!
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Old 10-29-2009, 07:41 PM
Its strange because I'm no Jackson fan either but had the opposite experience, I was totally drawn into the piece

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