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Movie Review: Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” (October, 2009)

Director: Kenny Ortega
Date of Release: October 27, pharmacy 2009

I feel cheated. No, esophagitis not because I feel like AEG or Sony put one over me, sildenafil but I feel cheated out of many years of pleasure in watching the greatest performer of our lifetime having been stolen too early from this life.

Full disclosure: I am a huge Michael Jackson fan, like many people out there, so this review will be somewhat biased and is written with an outlook that may be different than my other reviews because of this.

Michael looked completely agile at the age of 50, playing around as though he was still a child, and dancing and moving the same way he did as though time had never passed. He looked thin, though lively, and most importantly, happy. His band, his backup singers and dancers, were absolutely phenomenal.

His band and musical director Michael Brearden mixed up his songs such as “Theatened” and “Jam” in such a way that gave a whole new modern feel that truly brought life to the music. The transitions between songs felt smooth and the the small segments of comments from his crew interspersed throughout were at just the right pacing, though it would have been nice had we gotten more footage of Michael working behind the camera, and seen him working with his crew and dancers more, but I cannot complain with what has been delivered.

It was nice to get a peek into such a raw look into how Michael operated when working on his craft – being the perfectionist he was. I remember thinking to myself when he was working with Brearden on “The Way You Make Me Feel” that I was surprised Michael was able to release any music, as many perfectionists are never satisfied with their work. My favorite scenes were ones when he worked with his crew because you could see, if only for a moment, what was going through his mind; how he envisioned what parts of the concert and setup would look like. It also displayed how in control he was of every aspect of the concert, despite the fact that Kenny Ortega was the concert creative director.

His performances? Phenomenal. People have made some ridiculous comments on how Michael Jackson could no longer sing. I ask them, what planet are you from? This film clearly shows that Michael could certainly still sing, and sing very well at that, and imo, I don’t think many of the “A” list singers could hold a candle to him today. Some parts were difficult to decipher whether or not he was lipsyncing, and at times, just when I had decided he was lipsynching, he adds a “wooh” that was definitely not a part of the song, and clearly sounded live.

When he was all out dancing, his movements fully had my attention, especially in the scenes where he dances with his backup dancers. Michael was hitting the moves faster and more clean than his backup dancers – which reviews and comments had mentioned soon after his death. The “Bad” segment, where Michael is showing how to dance the steps to his backup dancers against a green screen for “They Don’t Care About Us”, just made me think “wow”, and I longed for more. Michael’s dancing is unique, and unlike any other, he moves with the beat of the music that comes deep from within, and as you watch, you have the desire to get up and dance along with him. As I was watching the backup dancers go at “Wanna be Startin’ Something”, I started tapping my toes, and I really wanted to get up and just dance. I could only imagine what it might have been like had Michael been in front of all his fans in London, thriving on their energy.

“This is it” was definitely a labour of love from Kenny Ortega. From all the various footage they had intended for use in Michael’s personal archive, they did an excellent job compiling something for us Michael Jackson fans. This concert documentary included short films they had intended on showing for the concert, including the black and white “Smooth Criminal” and dancers in amazing makeup and costume for “Thriller”, which was supposed to be in 3D (with elements of 4D via real puppets and smoke billowing out for the audience to see and feel). They did not finish the 3D scenes in time for the film. Watching Michael dance to “Billie Jean”, I would have liked to have seen his vision for what he wanted to show for “Billie Jean”, as this was always my favorite performance from his previous concerts (Billie Jean from his Dangerous Tour). I felt kind of empty watching it, because even though his dancing was terrific… he was missing his fedora, the centerpiece of the “Billie Jean” performance. There were moments where you could see how he was miming with his fedora, but it made me sad to see him without it. Michael had planned on using a specially designed Billie Jean jacket (take a look: Youtube, made up of Swvaroski and LED lights). I can only use my imagination at how amazing it would have been. The documentary said that the “This is It” concert was asking for technology that did not exist — technology that was specifically created for his concert. I would have enjoyed more details on this (though at the same time, I know that it would result in a feeling of further greater loss of what was lost.)

Michael’s main focus, his main message was his desire to heal the world, to save the planet; “This is it” was a message of love and healing towards the earth and towards each other. The ending song “Earth Song”, would have been the finale, which showed a young girl taking a nap to a beautiful forest, waking up to a dead forest, burning up, and dead trees being pushed by a bulldozer. It was to be a fantastic ending, with a bulldozer coming on stage, ultimately grabbing Michael, in his way of delivering his message.

As much as I love his old songs, I wish the fans had voted on him singing at least one song off of his “Invincible” cd, as there are gems to be discovered on the cd that many people may not realize, mainly because we’ve never had the opportunity to hear him sing these songs live as we have with his previous cds.

The film showed Michael quite intimately, being quite humorous, and he made me laugh countless times (“This is why we have rehearsal”). Every moment I gave myself pause while soaking in his performances, I was immediately saddened with the thought that “this really is it”. We’ll never have anything new of this spectacular, one of a kind artist past June 25, 2009. “This is it” is therefore a gem, but to this fan, it is a very real reminder of what we have lost and how we’ll never get the opportunity to see the “This is it” concert fully realized as Michael would have wanted it, along with his many other planned projects. My emotions are quite mixed as a result. In some ways, I wish I had never seen it because it makes the realization of the fact that Michael is really gone more real, but as a huge fan of his music, his dance and of his genius, there is no way I could not see it or not recommend it.

For fans and even non-fans of Michael Jackson, I would highly recommend this film. It was well compiled and showed the man behind the music, of which many never got a chance to know. However, I would note that it would help if you knew his music, as this will obviously make you enjoy the movie more.

I myself plan to go back and watch it again on IMAX, in all its glory, immersing myself in the immense wattage at IMAX theatres to the sound of Michael’s voice and music as this movie deserves to be enjoyed. In the end, it will be the music and dance of which Michael is remembered, and this movie serves as a reminder that he was human, but that of an extraordinary amazing human being with incredible talents, currently unmatched in our lifetime. As I walked out of the theatre, there was a real empty sadness in the pit of my stomach that still remains with me even as I write this, but I am glad that I went, applauding with other Michael Jackson fans, watching the last but truly happy moments of Michael Jackson’s life. One that was gone too soon.

Highly Recommended. 4.5 i love yous / 5 i love yous.

This is It Movie (View a few clips via “Video”)
An Interview with Kenny Ortega

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” (October, 2009)

  1. Great review Grace. Loved your enthusiasm. I agree, this film was well made, and I enjoyed it alot. I didn't see any signs of lip syncing, but it's possible all the splicing together of different rehearsals into one performance resulted in a few liberties by the director. Seeing it in IMAX – now that's a good idea. I'd like to do that too.

  2. Thank you. I think I've edited it a million times, and some sentences still sound funny to me. I've read so many wonderful articles with interesting tidbits, I've been trying to resist adding them to the post ;P

    I'm planning on seeing it next Friday if you and Ana Laura would like to join me : ) I think on IMAX it would be amazing. There was an article how IMAX is definitely worth it for the MJ fan. Though for us, we'd be seeing it on mini IMAX 🙂

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