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Movie Review: Michael Jackson's This Is It

 
Prinz Lee image

Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years and 2 months ago

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Written Oct. 29, 2009

I just want to say that I’m not going to lie and say I was Michael’s biggest fan. I guess actions speak louder than words and there are those out there who have proven that in many ways. However; I can say that while growing up, I can remember all the hoopla this man would bring once mentioned. Whether on the radio, TV or in magazines, anything that entailed this man’s name or image caused a level of attention beyond anyone’s comprehension. Given the fact that this man did havea pretty dysfunctional life, there’s no question whatsoever that he indeed was, is and will forever be one of the most energetic and influential entertainers of our time. There have been many that come and go, but very little can carry that torch of success for what may seem pretty much an eternity. I strongly believe that like Elvis, The Beetles, The Rolling Stones, or even James Brown, the name, the image, the aura, and legacy to sum it up will forever live. No matter what facet in the world of entertainment, Michael Jackson in one form or another will always have some kind of hidden print. And no denying that at least ONE… ONE song of his has touched all of us (metaphorically speaking of course) in some way or another. I’m not ashamed to say that there are a few songs of which really dig deep within my soul and to this day love and actually have uploaded in my I-pod. Man in the mirror for example… Why is that? I guess it’s because of everything he’s endured and his form of expressing it which to a certain extent relates to something we’ve been through or currently experiencing. Whatever that may be sits on a throne of emotional privacy, but denial that his art isn’t appealing would flat out be a complete lie. And from the looks of it, I’m going to go as far as saying that his influence among man-kind has pretty much been set globally. Outside of believing that there isn’t a human on earth that doesn’t like at least one of his songs… I’m also going to say that it parallels to the fact that I’m sure there isn’t a human being around the world that isn’t familiar with him. I mean I bet even the freaking Amish know about this man and they’re set back about 100 years. That’s how HUGE this man was while alive and will be while dead. Sure you can say the media helps with it, but you know what? Prior to his death whether under positive or negative light, he possessed the ultimate IT factor.

It's a shame that the last years of his life where over-shadowed by those horrible child molestation charges, which almost made us all forget what a talent he was. We'll probably never get the real story, but whether those accusations were true or not it's now between Jackson and whatever court(s) of higher power(s) exist in the afterlife.

When Jackson died in June of this year, he was in preparation for a series of concerts to be held in England. With the title “This Is It”, the concert seemed as if it was to be the swan song of his career or “the beginning of the final curtain” as he called it. Jackson's collaborator was Kenny Ortega (Disney's 'High School Musical' series) and their goal was to create a memorable and unique experience for the audience, taking them places they've never been. Unfortunately, his untimely death put an end to that, but the hundreds of hours of footage that were recorded provide a glimpse at what surely was to be an incredible show. The footage was actually never to be seen and recorded expressly for the show and Jackson's private library. Ninety-nine percent of it is Jackson performing and rehearsing on stage, never off, but it reveals a side to him many have never seen. Though he was a consummate professional and demanding perfectionist, Jackson was very humble, full of tender encouragement and had good sense of humor.

Ortega does a fantastic job at presenting detailed history regarding the path to This is it!..It embellishes on a journey from dancing auditions that extend all around the world at a chance at being able to perform with Michael, to creative levels of short film shoots to go along and enhance the concert in unique ways. All well crafted and explored in such a way that pretty much leaves you as an audience member feeling a bit puzzled knowing that it was all just draft upon draft before unleashing their final product. As a lover of documentary films, I must say that when viewing this one, the sense of what goes on behind the scenes will also help you gain a level of respect and knowledge of the logistics that takes place when piecing together such a complicated puzzle.

As rewarding and entertaining an experience This is it! Can be, it's also somewhat bittersweet. There was more than one occasion where I forgot Jackson was no longer alive. His onscreen presence and enthusiasm are so infectious that they almost feel like the high his songs can produce. Then when it reality sank in, I found myself getting a little angry towards him for being so careless and dying in such a reckless manner. With so many different bits of footage pieced together to tell this story, Jackson's appearance does vary, but its much more than his wardrobe. At times, he looks like a youthful Michael from twenty-five years ago and at others he appears like an old man in a Michael Jackson get up.

A highlight for me when watching this film was his voice. Jackson's voice was such a powerful instrument in itself, that he was probably one of the few performers who sounded as good live as he did after studio synthesizing. A good performer will not give you a song in concert the exact way it sounded on an album. They will dig to any depth in order to provide it, but won’t, however; Mike magically made it happen.

It's unclear just what Ortega and his editors had to work with. The footage is almost all from high-definition elements, with the occasional standard video shots. It's not only amazing how he was able to piece together what almost feels like a complete concert film, but the fact that This is it! the show looks to have been pretty near completion at the time of Jackson's death. I had several misgivings about this whole project from the moment it was announced. At times it felt like people were just using the footage to cash in on Jackson's death. I'm sure if he were alive, the perfectionist in him would never allow this footage from an incomplete show to be seen. But this is his legacy material like this is why fans adore him. This documentary is actually something that needs to be enjoyed and appreciated in a theater with fellow fans. It's almost an interactive experience. I spotted audience members not only taking snapshots of the screen, but recording the film with their cell phones. They weren't doing this for profit, but to take a small piece of Michael with them. Acts like that, including the creation of this film, allows Jackson to remain in our hearts and minds. And by doing so, along with the love found in his music, he will truly live forever.

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