Michael Jackson's This Is It

Film, Drama
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Michael Jackson's This Is It
Just as the 2007 documentary on the Apollo moon landings ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’ struck a blow against all the crackpot theorists who thought Buzz, Neil and the other guy were actually doing their floaty moonwalk thing in a disused seed barn in Delaware, posthumous concert film ‘Michael Jackson’s This Is It’ will come as a revelation to all those expecting to see the self-spun ‘King of Pop’ as a spindly, lethargic fantasist whose performing stamina was generated from the noxious vapours of whatever prescription pain killers he happened to have been mainlining at the time.

Undoubtedly – and unashamedly, perhaps – the film is cash-in propaganda of Riefenstahlian proportions... but to be honest, it’s all the more riveting and emotionally rewarding for it. Here we have a no-frills eulogy for Jackson the performer and artist - with all the reams of dodgy courtroom footage, the ruinous tabloid splashes and any enquiry into his dubious private life kept at arm’s length, perhaps being saved for a different, more damning portrait of one of the world's most enigmatic celebrities.

Indeed, it’s a film that’s been methodically purged of any ill feeling and negativity: the fact that he died isn’t even mentioned, which gives you some idea of just how desperate the makers of the film are to transport you to Jackson’s gooey-eyed Neverland where nothing bad ever happens. Yet, they do somehow succeed, and that helps the audience maintain its focus on the rousing and pleasingly stripped-back renditions of tracks plucked from Jackson’s venerable back catalogue.

All the classics are here, and not only are we able to see intimate footage of Jackson rehearsing but we also get a preview of the bespoke films and stunts that were set to accompany each song. ‘Thriller’ is backed by a 3D graveyard scene with various heavily made-up ghouls dancing from their tombs. ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ opens on a huge backdrop of workers descending from a scaffold at daybreak and is accompanied by a languid, Gershwin-esque prelude with which Jackson tries to emulate ‘the sound of getting out of bed’. He’s even spliced into a bullet-time-enhanced Humphrey Bogart movie for the introduction to ‘Smooth Criminal’.

Beyond the music, though, there is interest to be had from the between-song footage of Jackson conversing with his many adoring collaborators. When complaining that his earpiece is too loud, he descends into a kind of infantile gibberish where he dances around the issue with bizarre abstracts (‘I’m being punched in the ear!’) and the crew all duly respond to his mithering in the sickeningly fawning tone that might be offered to a puppy with a thorn in its paw. It’s patently obvious that Jackson had surrounded himself with a cadre of slathering yes-men, which helps you understand why he might have been trapped (perhaps willingly?) in a state of arrested development.

But this is a concert film, and, as such, it’s utterly engaging from beginning to end. Of course, there are those who believe that this 50-date concert engagement was one big insurance scam, and that Jackson faked his own death so he could sup mai tais on a private beach in the Cayman Islands while counting the money as it rolled in like the waves. The unquestionable amount of love and craftsmanship that went into this performance puts that theory into heavy disrepute. For sheer what-could-have-been tragedy, this is one to file next to the Elvis’s ‘’68 Comeback Special’.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Wednesday October 28 2009
Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Kenny Ortega
Cast: Michael Jackson

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Michael was not a particularly articulate speaker when it came to expressing his feelings, but he was fluent in music. He has worked with many of these professionals for many years (watch his old concert videos), they understood, respected, and loved each other. Rather than kissing his butt, they were showing a consummate performer who knew what he wanted, had been in the business for 45 years and professionally for 40 respect. Michael never condescended and also thanked his people with a thumbs up, a nod, or a "God Bless You". I wish my boss would show as much humble gratitude for my efforts. He wanted the best for his fans, gave his best, and expected the best from others. And what's wrong with that? Michael was doing it for us - each fans. Everyone else can stuff it.

im just so glad i went too see the film as its brilliant infact id go so far as to say i enjoyed it better than 8mile and i saw that 3 times. everyone should see it. michael i love n miss ya xx

It's not often you get the opportunity to spend two hours watching a genius at work - this is not to be missed. On the evidence of the movie, had the concerts have gone ahead, this would for a time have been the greatest show on earth, truly spectacular in terms of ambition & creativity. Such a shame for those who were waiting to go see it, but also for the performers who were due to take part, as this would have no doubt been a career highlight for most of the people involved. The album is definitely going on my Christmas list for this year!

If you haven't seen this film, then MAKE SURE YOU DON'T MISS ‘THIS IS IT!!!! ‘ As you will have missed history in the making. These rehearsals were just so amazing; it was hard to believe they were only rehearsals. This film demonstrated a genius at work in a way perhaps we have never seen before. The choreography was ‘laser’ tight and Michael Jackson’s timing was as slick and sharp as ever, despite being 50 years young. Had the show gone ahead, it would have been one of the greatest live shows of all times as Michael Jackson hadn’t lost anything in his quality of performance since the 80’s One couldn’t help but be in awe and wonderment of Michael Jackson’s talent and demand for perfection. Not only that, but his depth of vision and focus demonstrated a genius in motion. Michael Jackson displayed integrity and compassion throughout the rehearsals, and never seemed phased by the enormous pressure he was under. The film revealed Michael Jackson’s deeper qualities, many of which people might not be aware of because of his ‘distorted public image’. He was surprisingly assertive, and commands huge respect from the people he works with. In spite of being an artist of such high calibre, he was very humble and kind throughout. This man is full of love and the world will never quite be the same without him. If you have any preconceived ideas about who Michael Jackson is, then I urge you to go and see this film, and start to dispel this myth about ‘Whacko Jacko.’ This man is a seriously multi-talented artist and deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest artists and performers of our times, and definitely lives up to his title ‘King of Pop’

I love Michael Jackson with all my heart! I cried a river when i went to watch it. It's sad when you loose someone you care about the most, it's just life i suppose?

Absolutely brilliant! A fantastic documentary of a musical genius at work without sentimentality. Don't miss it whatever you do!

David Jenkins cynical review is rubbish. If you've ever enjoyed any of MJ's music over the past thirty years then do'nt miss this film on the big screen. This superbly crafted film is a fitting tribute to arguably the best pop artist we will ever see. The dancers and musicians are brilliant to. He did'nt surround himself with yes men. It's just they felt privileged to work with him and he knew how to get the best out of everyone .

It was a magical experience just to watch the movie. So poigniant, that when it was over the entire cinema audience just sat and clapped. A testimony to a true legend in the real sense. Nothing infantile about his comments regarding the earpiece AT ALL. It was actually one of my best parts, bcos it showed how important it was for him to FEEL the music. I think he was brilliant from start to finish. Again, contrary to the reviewer, comparing MJ to Elvis is a joke. No denying Elvis has a massive and dedicated fan base in Europe and US, BUT MJ was the WORLD - Asia, Africa etc. His death was felt not just in cities, but in every town, village and every home. I come from a remote African village where nobody has heard of Elvis, but there was a great sense of loss when MJ died that cut across age groups. Anyway, I agree with Max totally. The movie is a definite must-see - not just about the performance, but the man himself. Humble, caring, intelligent and full of life. He was so natural in his performance. To think that even the rehearsal is better than most finished concerts of other artists. Its amazing. MJ leads, other artists follow.

Bloody brilliant film! Had goose bumps throughout. Very tasteful and a really interesting view of him as a performer and genius. It could've been done so differently, I didn't find it cringeworthy, they didn't labour on his death (it was hardly mentioned) and there was no grief porn at all... If you're a fan or concert geek like myself (live shows fascinate me) then you really will love it. Made me quite sad though...it really would've been a great show. However, I disagree with Max - the scene about the earpiece was a tad strange. It was the only part of the entire film that looked to me as if he was high on prescription drugs. Or maybe he was just being tired and poetic, who knows. The fact remains, the man came across really well and rehearsal footage is a nice gift for fans, much more intimate than viewing the entire polished show.

'This Is It' was absolutely brilliant! Michael was amazing! I will be going to watch this film again and again and again!

Brilliant....I have always liked MJ, not an obsessed fan of his but none the more for that, he was an excellent performer and no one can take that away from him....This is it was done in good taste in my opinion and his death was not mentioned which is not what the film was supposed to be about, it was so the rehersals to be seen by his fans......just leave him alone now that he is dead and stop being so negative,

The film is directed in such a way that it leaves you to make your own mind up about the man. It is just simply raw footage of Michael reharsing, so doesnt cast an opinion of the directors, film producers etc. There is no denying, that he could still sing and dance. The man had a natural talent, and that doesnt just go with age. He also had his wits about him, which might come as a surprise to most people (the ones that listen and believe the media) But he comes across as being very intelligent and a man who knows exactly how he wants his show to look, I think the reason, all his crew listen to him and do exactly as he says, is the simple reason - he has more experience than anyone, he was in the game all his life and is the most successful artist of all time. Its pretty obvious he knows what hes doing, so they will listen.

I was watched this film with one thought in my mind that this man is a genius an a legend, an that should not be forgotten, you got to remember when you watch this is that the intention for this film is to show you what Michael had planed for his concerts, it's not about how questioning the content it is simply showing what would of been an how Michael was preparing for his come back , if you are interested in seeing if he still had that magic an what he had intended for his shows then you will not be disappointed when you watch this this. The question of did he still have it, the the answer is undoubtedly a big fat Yes the this 50 year old man could still hold his own an deliver beyond all expectations, when you watch this this spare a though as to how the live shows would of been in full costumers an with him giving it his all, like he always did on a live stage. Long live the King....

Michael Jackson's artistry shone so bright for me.....he was so in control and saw to things so minuscule....but needed it to be perfected.......that to me shows a great artist and an all time perfectionist. Smooth Criminal stood out for me....and so did Thriller.

As I am abig MJ fan l loved everything about this movie ,MJ had so much love to give to this world.but this world did not value him enough when he was alive.