When the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It was announced shortly after the entertainer’s death, I scoffed: it sounded like a money grab, yet another forgettable movie adaptation of concert material. I’ve never understood why people would pay money to go sit in a theater and watch concert footage, and even after the movie was making lots of money in theaters, I still didn’t get it. And then I watched This Is It on DVD and realized what all the hoopla was about: the movie is a legitimately entertaining experience, one that makes me wish Jackson were still alive today. Having never seen him live in concert, I can only imagine what kind of an experience it would have been.
This Is It is a concert documentary that turns behind-the-scenes preparation footage into a full-on musical. While the movie provides some rare backstage footage of Michael working with his dancers and crew, exemplifying his passion for putting on only the best of experiences, it is most impressive for the overall experience it delivers. Director Kenny Ortega does a superb job of making a full-blown musical out of clips of footage and training exercises that may only scratch the surface of what Jackson was capable of but still gives the audience something truly satisfying.
The movie has few if any flaws, and is one that should be seen by any Michael Jackson fan. This Is It may not be the last we see of Michael Jackson - there is no doubt that he’ll be the subject of many more documentaries and dramas over the years - but it does set a high benchmark.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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