Movie Review: Michael Jackson’s This Is It

Published by Clay Cane on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 12:55 am.

MJThisIsItSummary: A concert documentary on the late, great Michael Jackson’s  This Is It tour.  The film follows the last two months of MJ’s life through rehearsal footage, his dancers and crew, and music.

Review: There is no doubt that Michael Jackson is a genius, but some have doubted if he is human or at least treated him like he wasn’t.  Michael Jackson’s This Is It flawlessly highlights his talents, but it also humanizes him in a way that the public has never seen. He was humble, kind, intelligent and had a sense of humor. Unfortunately, Jackson was so crucified by the media that he probably didn’t feel comfortable showing this candid side. Thankfully, fans, lovers of music, lovers of dance and those who appreciate humanity, have this documentary.  The tag line for the doc is “Like you’ve never seen him before.” In most cases that would be media hype, but in this case, it’s the absolute truth.

At this point, we all give any Michael Jackson project the side-eye, wondering if another person is trying to capitalize off the King of Pop’s name. However, in this case, not enough praise can be given to the creators of This Is It, especially the director and MJ’s choreographer, Kenny Ortega. This Is It clearly comes from a pure place and honors Jackson’s legacy like no other project since his death.

This Is It includes most of Jackson’s hit songs like “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “I’ll Be There” and  “Beat It.” The viewer gets an intimate look at Jackson’s rehearsal style, his quest for perfection and gifted attention to microscopic detail.  Jackson operated from feeling and passion, at one point, when he is standing in one space after a musical number he says, “We’re sizzling,” to the crew that waits for him to move. Or, while arranging the music, he walks the musical director through the tempo and explains, “You gotta let it simmer” versus jumping right in to the beat.  It’s truly fascinating to watch and makes you want to study so you can somehow factor these skills into your own life.  It would be similar to viewing footage of Beethoven composing a musical number or Picasso painting a portrait. This glimpse into MJ’s genius is awe-inspiring.

With all the rumors, there were some doubts if Michael could still perform and sing like his fans would expect. This Is It clearly shows Michael still had it.  The dancing was incredible with his movements like water.  Personally, I was amazed at MJ’s vocals.  At 50 years old his voice was in stellar shape. To hear him hit those nearly 30-year-old notes (no key change!) in “Human Nature,” do improvisations on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” or doing vocal warm-ups was riveting.

Most importantly, in Michael Jackson’s This Is It, you don’t see death, just life.  There is no sadness or tears; you walk out with a smile on your face, feeling loved and more human. Forget the controversies, scandals and drama. This Is It is truly who Michael Jackson was — his music. It’s a film that you don’t want to end.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It opens today and is only in theaters for two weeks.

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