Michael Jackson's This Is It Proves Entertaining But Not Revelatory
- Wednesday, October 28, 2009
DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: October 28, 2009
Rating: PG (for some suggestive choreography and scary images)
Genre: Music video/documentary
Run Time: 112 min.
Director: Kenny Ortega
Performers: Michael Jackson, Alex Al, Nick Bass, Michael Bearden, Daniel Celebre, Mekia Cox, Misha Gabriel, Chris Grant, Judith Hill, Dorian Holley, Shannon Holtzpffel, Devin Jamieson
Considering Michael Jackson's unexpected death was only two weeks before his big comeback tour was slated to premiere at London's O2 Arena on July 8, I'm sure that plenty of This Is It ticket-buyers will automatically assume the roles of amateur psychologists and detectives, you know, basically looking for any clues to what may have caused his untimely demise.
Was he working too hard? Were the pressures to regain his pop music throne too great? What was the proverbial straw that broke the King of Pop's back?
Well, unless someone can mine an insight that I happened to miss from This Is It, chances are, no one will ever know.
See, unlike Martin Bashir's Living with Michael Jackson documentary back in 2003 that provided an uncharacteristically candid window into the pop star's unusual, and occasionally, macabre existence, This Is It doesn't have any of those personal flourishes.
And given that Living with Michael Jackson wasn't exactly positive PR for someone whose reputation was already seriously on the decline, I'm guessing that's exactly how director Kenny Ortega (High School Musical series, Gilmore Girls), a longtime friend and collaborator with Jackson, wanted it.
Instead of focusing on M.J.'s private life or his particular oddities, This Is It is really all about the music and a farewell tour that'll never see the light of day, a move that ultimately casts Jackson, and his legacy, in a more favorable light. Had everything gone off as planned, I'm guessing it would've produced that desired result, too—the reclaiming of Jackson's "King of Pop" throne.
Longtime fans, not to mention those who simply love good pop music, will find plenty to love about This Is It. While Jackson may not be quite as agile as he was back in his moon-walking days, there's still countless glimpses of the talent that made him such a big star in the first place.
Not only does his voice sound surprisingly fresh on "Human Nature" and "The Way You Make Me Feel" but his blast-from-the-past moves on "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" are so good that it's hard to believe he was actually 50 years old. Truth be told, watching Jackson and his dancers in action made me a bit tired just watching and gave me a whole new respect for the work that goes into creating a tour of this magnitude.
What also makes This Is It so fun to watch is seeing Jackson's creativity in action, a side that audiences haven't always been privy to. Always known as the consummate perfectionist, Jackson is clearly intent on getting every detail just right, and his interactions with the band and the dancers (who gush on and on about how great it was to work with him in an embarrassingly fan-like fashion) are some of the movie's best moments.
Adding a sometimes theatrical, sometimes Cirque de Soleil feel to the proceedings are a slew of fabulously elaborate set pieces. While each set-up inevitably improves on the one before it, the best of the bunch, hands down, is the modern reenactment of "Thriller," complete with those iconic dance moves, creepy-looking zombies and dead brides and grooms that zip through the air, and eventually, into the audience. And of course, "Thriller" wouldn't be "Thriller" without the requisite Vincent Price-esque voiceover, so that's back, and even campier fun than ever.
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