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A behind-the-scenes film that shows Michael Jackson getting ready for his would-be London O2 shows released on October 28, 2009.

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This shouldn't have been it. A stunning look into Michael Jackson's final days.

  • Oct 30, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Great songs, behind the scenes footage, MJ's final rehearsals, innovative videos

Cons: Would have liked more of MJ's directives, a bit disjointed

The Bottom Line: Michael Jackson: This Is It is in its own genre. Seeing Michael full of life, dancing, singing and taking charge is both riveting and sad. He still had "it".


I'm a little hesitant to review Michael Jackson: This Is It because I'm not a movie reviewer and this film wasn't even a movie. However, it touched me deeply and so, I will attempt to review the film I just saw that had no plot nor any real direction. Before I do, I should note that I am, and always was, a casual fan of Michael Jackson. I like a lot of his songs but I thought his personal life was out of control. I was stunned, as was pretty much everyone else was, when I learned of his death and, in fact, I have been more interested in him since. I went to This is It to see if all the rumors of Michael Jackson being emaciated, strung out, barely able to move, and completely manipulated by AEG seemed true. I came out of the film with a whole new respect for Michael Jackson, the entertainer and the man.

Michael Jackson: This Is It

This one hour and 51 minute film directed by Kenny Ortega (who we see plenty of in the film), is raw rehearsal footage from Michael Jackson's This is It tour preparation.

The film begins with a scrolling intro, never really saying anything about Michael's death but it does mention the date June 25, the day Michael died.

We're then launched dancer interviews done during rehearsals and the into rehearsal footage, sometimes with split screens, often with Michael's outfits changing as he sang, showing him rehearsing on different days.

Interspersed between the singing and dancing are more interviews from the dancers as well as back up singers and musicians. These were done before Michael's death and they basically just talk about what an honor it is to work with the King of Pop and how professional he is. Was. I still have pause and remember Michael Jackson passed away.

Throughout the film, Michael is seen dancing very much like he did a decade ago. For someone who supposedly could barely walk, that man could dance! I was surprised at how great his dancing still was and how innovative his moves were. Although he looked painfully thin, he certainly showed no signs of slowing down.

The film simply goes from song to song, stopping to show Michael as he discussed moves or music with the staff. Those glimpses of Michael Jackson quietly but firmly taking control of the production and having a hand in everything from the dance steps, the tempo of the music, the looks of the videos, and more were the most interesting part of the film for me. I had thought that Michael was forced into this tour and really had no interest in it. I was wrong. He was the consummate perfectionist in the scenes we saw and it was clear that he was very much in charge.

We got to see some of the videos that were to be used in the background during the tour and they sure are amazing. Thriller is remixed and redone, Smooth Criminal is super cool looking in old style black and white, and other videos are state of the art and touching at the same time.

While this film had no plot and no documentary qualities, it flowed fairly well. There were moments where it seemed to drag on but I suspect that was because I just didn't happen to like the song that was being performed.

The quality of talent Jackson had backing him was top notch. The dancers were the best of the best, the musicians were great, and the back up singers couldn't have sounded better. But unlike some singers' comebacks that rely on supporting talent and smoke and mirrors to hide flaws, Michael Jackson was always front and center in every number. He danced throughout the numbers, sang, and gave 100%.

It's astounding to think that he had such a troubled personal life yet was able to deliver such amazing performances in rehearsals. If he was the strung out addict that he has been said to be, he certainly hid it well. He looked sharp, sounded coherent and focused, and showed no signs of being anything but 100% professional.

The theater I went to was small and many of the people there seemed to be older. As the film progressed, sniffles could be heard and my own sister, who went with my husband and I, pulled out the tissues a few times. It was, indeed, sad to see such amazing performances in the making that will never be seen in their finished versions.

I didn't look for things like video quality (It all looked fine to me.) or editing glitches (The nature of the film was lots of clips edited together.). I just went to see the last work Michael Jackson did. And, when the film was over, I left with a whole new respect for him.

This is It
will be out on DVD soon, probably with extra footage, but I don't regret watching it in the theater. The surround sound brought the songs to life and the big screen made the performances exactly what they would have been had Michael lived and gone on to perform the numbers on tour: larger than life.

We all really enjoyed the film and came away with a sadness that the King of Pop is gone when he clearly still had so much to give to his fans. It would have been a heck of tour had it happened.

Although some parts of This is It seemed to be a bit disjointed or rushed, in all, I have to give the film 5 stars. Had he lived and gone on to tour and I went to see this film, I would have rated it lower. But this is it. Michael Jackson's final days and final rehearsals for a tour that will not happen. I'm glad I got to at least see what would have been to come had Michael lived to perform the numbers he clearly worked so hard to perfect.

Conclusion

Michael Jackson: This is It is in a genre of its own. It's not a concert film and it's not a documentary. The star of the film is gone so he can't promote it and his death is completely glossed over. I guess anyone going to see the film clearly knows that MJ is gone and to turn the footage into a memorial for him would have taken away from the film's objective of showing that Michael Jackson was still on top of his game and in control.

My favorite parts of the film were watching Michael quietly yet sternly direct those around him as to exactly how he wanted things to look, sound, and convey to the fans. Without a doubt, Michael Jackson was fully immersed in the upcoming tour. It's a darn shame he never got to show skeptical fans (like myself) that he still had "it". But seeing this film convinced me. Michael Jackson would have been able to deliver an amazing live show. At least we have this film to remind us of that.

Recommended:
Yes

Movie Mood: None of the Above
Viewing Method: Studio Screening/Premiere
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Pacing

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More Michael Jackson's "This Is It" reviews
review by . March 03, 2010
posted in MJJCommunity
I was finally able to see this "highly anticipated" film once it came out on DVD.  Overall I would recommend this film to anyone that has any interest in Michael Jackson and his music.      Experience Overall my experience with This Is It was great! To me it was unreal when Michael Jackson passed away. I can’t say I was a diehard fan, but I definitely can say I was big fan. His music always made me want to get up and dance. When I heard his songs, they …
review by . June 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tomorrow, June 25, marks the 1 year anniversary of Michael Jackson's tragic and untimely death.
With Michael Jackson's children in mind, they lost a wonderful father, and I, along with other fans, have lost a true musical genius, a man whose generosity is unsurpassed, and a gentle soul who loved everyone.      I saw This Is It when it first came out in the theater; I was so excited to see this masterpiece that Kenny Ortega had put together so quickly.  When the DVD came out, I bought that too and have watched it several times since.      I admit, …
review by . October 30, 2009
posted in MJJCommunity
@Nando1 and I went to go see "This Is It" yesterday. I LOVED IT! I do wish that it was more like how the show would've been since they had the footage but, I also really liked that you get to see Michael as he was. Now, my disclaimer that I thought of after reading @KevinTRod's review, I am not a professional reviewer nor, even though I studied film, do I ever pay extra attention to the technical aspects of a film. It has to be a pretty obvious error for me to even …
review by . November 07, 2009
Too bad
Love him or hate him or even just not understand him, Michael Jackson might have been the most popular name in the world.  The man behind the name, his own 'Man In The Mirror', embodied great talent and equal amounts of flawed struggle.  This documentary showcases preparations for what was shaping up to be a game-changing concert tour.  In that regard, the film focuses solely on the creative force of Michael Jackson.      Ladies and gentlemen, the trailer   …
review by . August 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Surprisingly Interesting Movie
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. Like a lot of other people I grew up with the sights and sounds of Michael Jackson, with that I mean that I was born in the same year as him. His music always intrigued me and I have enjoyed hearing the music from thriller and all of the albums that he put out. But, with the death of MJ he was just as big as Elvis Presley. Why are all of the really talented artist taken from us early, and why is it that more times …
review by . October 29, 2009
Title: This Is It   Director: Kenny Ortega    Staring: Michael Jackson    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1    Studio: Sony Pictures   Genre(s): Concert/Documentary    Rated:       (For some suggestive choreography and scary images)   Buy From Amazon.com: DVD / BluRay / UMD / Soundtrack / Soundtrack (MP3) / Poster CONSUMER ADVICE Parents, except for Michael's crotch grabbing there's not much to object to here. Recommended …
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
reminded me what a talent we've lost, despite the oddities; gives a glimpse into a troubled and complex mind
review by . June 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
THIS IS IT is now all there is. Watching this film in the DVD format in the home strikes many chords for almost every viewer. Michael Jackson's life was made far too public and this brief recording of the preparations for his final tour sets much straight about why he was such a remarkable talent. It allows us to forget all the raucous press that hounded him during his life and simply watch Michael Jackson doing what he did best - perform. Some of his gifts can be listed. Creative body language …
review by . May 14, 2010
Real-life thriller
The rehearsals for Michael Jackson's last tour were filmed and provide a stunning look at a superstar entertainer and consummate professional at work. We see him sing and dance many songs along with the special effects that contributed so much to the dynamic show. The film itself is more home movie than documentary; comments from the show staff come later in the extras.       I hadn't followed Jackson's life for years and assumed he was past his prime, but this film completely …
Quick Tip by . March 29, 2010
posted in MJJCommunity
Admittedly not the biggest MJ fan but found this to be tedious to get thru. Mostly just liked the stage affects.
About the reviewer
Patty Therre ()
I am a writer, editor, researcher, and reviewer as well as a fashion and beauty fanatic. I am into fitness and like to switch up things so that fitness is fun and not a big drag like it can often be. … more
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Wiki


Michael Jackson's This Is It is a 2009 American concert film documenting Michael Jackson's rehearsals of the concert series of the same name (scheduled to start on July 13, 2009, but cancelled because of his death on June 25, 2009), both on stage and behind the scenes. The film shows Jackson mentoring his team for the 50 shows, as well as him creating, developing, and ultimately staging the high-tech performances. The film's director Ortega confirmed that when Jackson had filmed footage of himself rehearsing that he never had the intention of releasing it to the public, but after Jackson's death, it was agreed that the film be made and released for Jackson's fans. The footage was filmed at The Forum and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Despite originally being set for an October 30, 2009, release date, the film's release date was rescheduled for October 28, 2009; due to a strong demand by Jackson's fans. The film was given a wide worldwide release and a limited two-week theatrical run from October 28, to November 12, 2009. Tickets went on sale a month early on September 27, 2009, to satisfy a high anticipated demand.

Since the confirmation of the film, AEG Live had faced criticism mostly consisting of theories that they'd only made the film solely for them to be able to make a profit off Jackson. Multiple members of Jackson's family had confirmed that they didn't support the film and some family members went as far...

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Details

Director: Kenny Ortega
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: 10/28/2009
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
Runtime: 111 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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