On Wednesday October 28, Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” hit the big screens for a limited two-week engagement. Produced and directed by Kenny Ortega, this “off the wall” tribute was adapted from 100 hours of footage originally only intended to serve as rehearsal aids for Jackson and his crew.
In a documentary-styled fashion, Ortega pieces together behind-the-scenes highlights to show the audience what Jackson had envisioned for his real finale, a series of 50 sold-out concerts at London’s 02 Arena.
Highly-anticipated by MJ fans across the world who had been waiting 12 years for a comeback, “This” is what Jackson had intended for his fans. And although the fans never got “It,” the film successfully thrills and inspires the audience to only wish they had their last dance with the legend.
From the start of the film, the audience can already sense how Michael Jackson inspired and affected the lives of people globally. The consummate performer had not only bred generations of dancers and singers who were all touched by his magic on stage, but also paved the way for many of today’s successful artists.
In “This Is It,” Jackson demands the best from top-notch dancers, musicians and vocalists, who are all more than happy to deliver. From dance tryouts to lighting, Jackson has a hands-on approach to every aspect of his performance. It is his show, and he takes it very seriously.
Meticulous to the point of perfection, Jackson is constantly directing, editing and inspiring his team of workers to perform at their highest potential, while accepting “this is why we rehearse.” He knows his music down to every beat, pitch and note, and is ultimately the head supervisor in the execution of his vision.
Although the 112-minute film gives fans a taste as to what Jackson had planned for his last goodbye, the main bulk of footage was never intended to be viewed by an audience. Less of a reminiscing tribute and more of a preview as to what was missed, “It” is not the real thing. “This” is simply what they were left with.
While providing a clear reflection of the “man in the mirror,” the film content is somewhat repetitive in its nature, as it basically runs through the production process and dress rehearsals. Without a plot or a conclusive final performance, some may be disappointed by this makeshift finale, as they are forced to settle with what Ortega could scrap together from rough material.
What makes this featured film unique are these candid moments shared by Jackson and his crew. Looking behind the scenes, we see how much effort and love was poured into even the smallest details of his performance. Every aspect must “sizzle” a n d “simmer ” with Jackson and be “nourished” over time. And ultimately, it is the love and care for his work that crowned him the King of Pop.
Although negatively portrayed by the media throughout his career and even after his death, Jackson’s true colors shine through in “This Is It.” A man of compassion for all human beings, Jackson is selfless not only in his global perspective , but also in his performance, which is giving, thoughtful and all about the fans.
After seeing the movie, fans can only be left disappointed that they never got the real thing. Despite his frail figure, Jackson proves to be no less competent of a singer or dancer than he was during his prime. To imagine how powerful and “thrilling” of a performance This would have been is a bittersweet moment for all.
Production: 4 out of 5
“It” Factor: 3.5 out of 5
Dancing: 3 out of 5
Music: 4 out of 5