The Rating: PG
Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT offers Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this summer in London's O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June, 2009, the film is produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. Audiences will be given a privileged and private look at Jackson as he has never been seen before. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson's “This Is It” captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his final show.
The Review: At the onset of "This Is It," it’s painfully clear that only 8 days stood between rehearsals being a full blown show as awed testimonies from dancers oozed of Jackson's wonderfulness.
A tinge of sadness runs through the film as you realize the hard work of the singers, dancers, wardrobe designers and stage hands never got to see the light of day. The updated 3D intro and flying ghosts on 'Thriller', the greenscreen marching army backdrop for 'They Don't Care About Us' - all proof that Michael had raised the bar further than even the King of Pop had been before.
Though it's been over a decade since Jackson's last tour, the 50-year-old artist still had what it took to keep in step with (and sometimes outshine) the energetic 20-something dancers at peak fitness behind him. Even when he wasn’t singing his hardest and dancing his hardest, he was still worthy of this fan given title. "Don't make me sing full out," he pleads to the crew, cheering him on in rehearsal. He needed to conserve his voice for the actual performance. But the slight rasp adds emotion and warmth to "Human Nature," "Man in the Mirror" and "Billie Jean." But Jackson just going through the motions puts other performers to shame.
Still, it is the interludes and vignettes between the performances, which really make this film essential viewing. We see Jackson as a perfectionist, a generous boss, a tough taskmaster. Off guard and probably unaware that it would ever be seen by the public, we find Jackson pushing his band and production team to the limit with demands to "make the music simmer."
If your grandchildren ever ask you what was so great about Michael Jackson, then give them a copy of Thriller and let them figure it out for themselves. However, if they want to know whether the rumors were true about him being a freak and a weirdo, then show them this film. Difficult, odd, kind, obsessive and funny, “This Is It” finally offers us a very brief glimpse of the real Michael Jackson. Cynics and sensationalists looking for evidence of Jackon's faltering health won't find it here. Wacko Jacko was no where to be found. He was simply Michael. There was was nothing strange about him….if you can get past the wardrobe selection.
While it may not be the definitive concert film (or the insightful backstage look) some will hope for, Michael Jackson's “This Is It” packs more than enough entertainment value to live up to its ambitious title.