Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner29/10/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Watchable documentary that entertains on the strength of the music alone, but beyond admiring his extraordinary energy and work ethic you get very little feel for who Michael Jackson was and there's no escaping the fact that the film is essentially a feature-length DVD extra.

What's it all about?
Directed by Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT is a behind-the-scenes documentary that was assembled from footage of the concert tour Jackson was rehearsing for prior to his untimely death back in June. Presumably intended as a DVD extra to go with a film of the eventual concert, the multiple hi-def cameras capture run-throughs for 17 of Jackson's best loved songs.

In addition, the film includes the specially filmed video effects sequences for Smooth Criminal (Michael spliced into ‘40s movies so that he interacts with the likes of Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart), They Don't Care About Us (11 dancers dressed as soldiers multiplied into an 11,000-strong marching army), Thriller (a newly filmed 3D graveyard sequence including a giant spider that Michael mysteriously pops out of) and Earth Song (a little girl wakes up to find her rainforest home being destroyed) as well as brief soundbite interviews with various musicians, choreographers, dancers and technicians.

The Good
The film is extremely well edited, with each song taken from several different rehearsals, so that Michael's costumes change back and forth throughout. Looking at the footage, two main points stand out: first, that it would have been a hell of a show, and second, that there's no doubting Michael's incredible energy (you'll look in vain for signs of his reputed ill health) or his extraordinary work ethic – he takes a professional, courteous and fully hands-on approach to every aspect of the production.

There are a few tiny highlights, such as choreographer Stacy Walker fine-tuning the crotch-grab move with the dancers and it's also unusual to see him finish a big, show-stopping number and be met by only a smattering of applause.

The Bad
The main problem is that you get no feel at all for who Jackson was as a person and it's a shame the film doesn't capture any more candid moments. It's also very repetitive and a good 30 minutes too long.

Worth seeing?
Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT is a watchable, impressively edited documentary that won't disappoint fans but offers very little if you're a non-believer.
Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT Premiere

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Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT (PG)
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Content updated: 16/07/2018 13:53

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