Tuesday, October 27, 2009

POPped Review: 'Michael Jackson's - This Is It'

Photo: Kevin Mazur, AEG-Getty Images

'Michael Jackson's - This Is It' is one of the best concert movies I have ever seen. Yes, regulars of POParitaville know that I am a big MJ fan. But that's not the reason I say this about this movie. I say it because it's true. With most concert movies we feel like we are in the audience; But with 'This Is It' you feel like you are a part of the crew. You get to take your pick of who you want to be. Are you the hot blonde guitarist, the musical director trying to find the right rhythm with MJ, the dancer who took a chance flying in from Australia to audition, the director who is trying to blend everything seamlessly, or are you just lucky enough to be in the same room watching it all come together? Whoever you are, being able to watch a show of this scope come together is something that most of us will never get to experience.

The movie is cut together of footage that was being filmed for Michael's personal library and also material that was shot to be used as a part of the concert. Director Kenny Ortega found a way to take us from the opening of the concert to a very touching finale. All the while the movie is never sensationalistic. There is nothing in it that attempts to be in for shock or controversy. No. This is a movie about a concert that could have been as we see some of the big numbers rehearsed back stage on stage. At the same time, do not expect this to look like every other concert movie. This wasn't being filmed for broadcast, but they still manage to capture what looked to be a hell of a show. By showing us rehearsal footage, animatics and finished footage for the concert, we can truly picture what the final product of the concert was going to be.

What about Michael Jackson? Watching this movie I never saw any sign of the fatigue so many gossip sites were all to eager to write. There is nothing that leads you to believe something was wrong. We see a man with endless energy and an amazing voice. This is clear when with his voice he shows the bass player the correct rhythm to a song. Yes, there are times where you can tell that a track was used to sweeten the songs. However, through much of the footage we hear MJ's voice loud and clear as he tries to get everything perfect. But we also get to see how every movement and pause was designed and choreographed to enhance the moment. Not only for him, but his performers as well. There are moments where he is mentoring these artists and giving them their moment to shine. He knows they're talented, and unlike many performers today, he doesn't want them to just blend into the background.

There is still something more to watching this. Michael is having fun. This is obvious. You can also see just how badly he wanted this show to be perfect for his fans, but he balances that creative need with gentleness. He feeds off of the energy of his dancers, band and crew. A few times in the movie we see him get so into rehearsal that he pushes his voice harder than he should in rehearsal..and mentions it after. But the excitement of those watching him perform makes him immediately go full out. It's not all perfect though. There are moments of frustration for him when the band is missing a cue, or his ear monitors just don't work right. Even with this, don't expect any Christian Bale outbursts. He voices his frustration and moves on.

It truly is like listening to his greatest hits album. From 'Smooth Criminal' to 'Black or White'; 'Thriller' to Jackson 5 classics, the performances will have you tapping your feet or clapping along (as many at the screening I went to were). I found myself in awe of his performance energy and then saddened at the thought that there will be no more from him. But I believe that this is why the movie was created. (Well that, and a promise of quick money.) It's there to show how good the concert was going to be, how good the cast was, and how much he was ready to be back on top.

I cannot recommend seeing this movie enough. Whether you are a fan or not, there is no denying that there was no other entertainer as talented as Michael Jackson. This movie just makes me more aware that there will never be another MJ. Truly, this is it.

Review POPped by Jungle Jesse

1 comment:

  1. I just read the review over at MSNBC.com and it sounded almost identical to yours. There's was posted a few hours after yours too.