By Guest Reviewer : Murali K. Thalluri
Long before the world turned on Michael Jackson through tabloid sensationalism, long before the pigment crippling skin disease – Vitiligo – turned his color to a porcelain doll white, and long before the Peter Pan of Pop was accused and acquitted of child molestation, he was and remained to the end one thing, the greatest entertainer who ever lived. The new documentary THIS IS IT shows us that despite what we were reading about him in the press, this was a gentle genius who just wanted to help the world through his art, it shows us the man still had talent, that when he sang, he sang with the voice of angels, and when he danced he did so with the grace of god, and though he is no longer with us, the manâ€™s legend will live on through the legacy piece, THIS IS IT.
The film chronicles the final few months of Michael Jacksonâ€™s life from the moment he announced his eagerly awaited comeback right down to the night before he died. It is a mixture of performance as well as an in-depth behind the scenes look at the man at work. Together with the director of the show Kenny Ortega, Michael goes about directing his crew and team of dancer with grace and humility but also with a sternness that was not not expected from the softly spoken pop star. This was not a man who was eight hours away from dying, here was a man who was excited to bring his latest creation to the world, a man who despite his thin frame, moved better than the dancers half his age and despite four decades on stage still had the voice that thrilled the world. The rehearsals were filmed for Michael Jacksonâ€™s personal archives and were never meant to be a movie, but despite that, this documentary proves to be one of the most revealing insight into Jacksonâ€™s persona.
Starting with the explosive 1983 hit â€˜Wanna Be Startin Somethingâ€™ Jackson glides across the stage mesmerizing those watching in awe as the man moves with the some graceful aggression that defined him as the King of Rock, Pop and Soul. From here the film jumps back to the announcement of the concerts, before splicing live performance with behind the scenes footage. At the concert announcement it was said that he would be doing the songs the fans want to hear, and the film delivers them all from â€˜Billie Jeanâ€™ to the lesser known but beautiful â€˜Human Natureâ€™, from the highly political â€˜They Donâ€™t Care About Usâ€™, to the plea for world consciousness in â€˜Earth Songâ€™. The entire stage was to be backed with a 130 foot 3D screen so the audience could watch Michael interact with 3D elements, something that was developed specifically for this show and would have been a world first. We see the recreation of â€˜Thrillerâ€™ in 3D, Michael Jacksonâ€™s army of love all dancing in unison to â€˜They Donâ€™t Care About Usâ€™, and in perhaps one of the most stunning sequences of the film, he uses digital technology to insert himself as a character into an old black and white Rita Hayworth and Edward G. Robison movie before allowing it to transition into â€˜Smooth Criminalâ€™. Iâ€™ll say this, when I walked into that theatre I did not expect MJ to be shot at by a 1940s gangster in a variation of a film classic! Epic! As he glides through an extended â€˜Billie Jeanâ€™, caresses his way through the sublime â€˜Human Natureâ€™, roars his way through â€˜Jamâ€™ and fights his way through â€˜Beat Itâ€™ we see Jackson as heâ€™s never been seen before – unguarded doing what he does best. The only issue I had with this film was that the Michael Jackson we see in the film was such a perfectionist that Iâ€™m sure he would turn in his grave if he knew that the world was seeing him in rehearsals and not the full blown show where he is putting in 100% of his effort.
Whatever you want to think about Michael Jackson, there is one thing that can not be denied, the man was the best that ever did it and this film shows it. Even when not putting in a film effort, he still completely outshines todayâ€™s stars like Usher, Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown. This Is It is a beautiful film that will remind the world that Michael Jackson was far from all of the things that the tabloid media painted him out to be, he was a gentle genius. It is just tragic that it took his death for us to see that. I for one was looking for Michael-Mania to sweep the world once again through what would have been one of the biggest comebacks in music history, instead we get this emotive, thrilling and heartbreaking tribute to him, this shouldnâ€™t be it, but unfortunately it is!