Review: This is It
PLOT: A candid look behind the scenes at what would have been a series of comeback concerts for Michael Jackson, staged at London's O2 arena, and produced by famed choreographer/ filmmaker Kenny Ortega.
REVIEW: Like many, I was stunned to hear of Michael Jackson`s untimely passing in June, although, to be honest, in many ways he had been dead to me for years. I`m not denying his talent. I was a huge Jackson fan throughout my childhood, but the controversy surrounding him in recent years, which has been largely glossed over by the media in the wake of his death, definitely tainted his appeal. When I heard they were making a film about his attempted comeback tour, THIS IS IT, I was skeptical to say the least, as it reeked of shameless opportunism. It didn`t help that the trailers for the film made it look like a glorified DVD extra.
However, having finally seen the film, I can understand why it was released, as it does much to reclaim Jackson`s legend. Despite the fact that he would die midway through the rehearsal process, here Jackson seems (forgive the pun) more alive than he seemed in years. He looked committed, and re-energized by the possibility of a comeback, and the footage of him planning the concerts shows a remarkably sane, and focused MJ. If the concerts had come to fruition, they might have really been the start of a major comeback.
One thing that the trailers have somewhat glossed over is that THIS IS IT isn`t really the concert film it`s being sold as. While he performs all of his hits, Jackson was understandably saving his voice for the concerts themselves, so he only half sings a lot of the songs. The only times he really goes all the way is during `Billie Jean`, after being goaded on by his dance crew, and during `Earth Song`, which is a song that seems particularly dear to his heart.
We also get a glimpse of a few newly shot 3D video introductions for a few of his songs (although we don`t get the 3D versions here- the film is a strictly 2D affair), and the one for `Smooth Criminal` looked particularly elaborate, with Jackson inter-cut with vintage clips of Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and Rita Hayworth. This whole sequence works surprisingly well, and it would have been nice to see the finished product in 3D.
THIS IS IT is absolutely worth checking out if you`re a big MJ fan, as it really is a unique glimpse of the man at work. Even if you`re a casual fan turned off by his antics in the few years leading up to his death, you might want to give it a shot, as it redeems him somewhat, and offers a surprisingly human version of this flawed genius.