After hearing that they were going to release a film chronicling Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” rehearsals, I was a little skeptical about the intentions of such a release. At the surface it seems that This Is It could’ve been seen as essentially a shameless way of cashing in on the recent death of “The King Of Pop”. However, I think this film works superbly as a showcase for Jackson’s undeniable talent as an entertainer, as well as a consummate professional.
The film consists of various rehearsal performances that were taken by a small camera crew as Jackson was preparing for what was going to be his grand “comeback” tour. As well as capturing some great performances we are also able to see Jackson’s interactions with the dancers, the musicians, and director Kenny Ortega. Also, interspersed in the film are a few interviews with the people involved with the show at the time of the rehearsals. These are easily the weakest parts of the film considering they do little more than show the dancers and musicians talking about how great Michael Jackson is, but luckily those are kept to a minimum.
This Is It never really lets us get that close to Michael Jackson, and it doesn’t really give us too much more insight in to Jackson personally, but that’s OK because what really makes this an intriguing film is being able to see Jackson truly thrive on the stage, the place I think he always felt most comfortable. His dancing is just absolutely electric, he shows no signs of illness and it’s absolutely mesmerizing to see what he was able to do with his body even at 50 years old. His singing is also pretty great, even though MJ mentions a few times in the film that he should be saving his voice and not project as much, but from most of the performances you wouldn’t be able to tell that he wasn’t giving it his all.
I also found the whole backstage aspect of the film to be pretty interesting too, as we’re able to see what went into what was going to be a very extravagant concert. Being able to see the way Jackson worked meticulously with his back-up band as well as the dancers also really gives us an idea of his attention to detail as a performer. And despite the fact that Michael Jackson remains a kind of mysterious figure throughout the film, This Is It really gives us a striking depiction of why he was so successful and why he left such an impact on pop culture.
I know they were billing this movie as playing “for two weeks only” when it was first released, but I think it’s going to be running a little longer in theaters. So if you’re a fan of Jackson’s work I would recommend getting out there and seeing This Is It, it stands as a very respectful and at the same time thrilling tribute to one of the great American entertainers of all-time.