Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Is IT. The Spotlights Last Shine On an Icon

Hollywood has long taken music icons and turned them into silver screen stars. The "Concert" film has been done with many of today's big music stars, U2, and The Rolling Stones to name a few, and now Michael Jackson stars in what is listed as footage shot solely for his own personal collection. "This Is It" is footage shot of Michael's final rehearsals before what would have been his return to the stage after a twelve year absence. The final fifty performances of this tour were sold out in advance and the King Of Pop wanted his fans to see perfection, this films delivers, albeit on a sad note.

The film showcases the dedication Michael had to his fans, the time and effort he took to make sure that every note of every song was perfect. He not only wanted the music to be right, he also wanted the dancers to be showcased and to become in essence a part of him. The movie is directed by long time friend Kenny Ortega that is a compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of the Legend himself. Each song showcased in the film are among Michael's greatest hits, Billy Jean, Beat It, Bad, and of course Thriller. The dance portion of the show is toned down for Michael, he was, one must remember in his fifties, the biggest dance routine was for Thriller, Michael takes it easy during this song, and seems at times more worried about being able to carry the vocal portion of the songs then anything else. This dedication to each song, each step in the rehearsal process takes the fan deeper into the man's mind. he wants the fans who come to watch him to experience something that they wont ever forget.

It must have worked because the sold out audience clapped along with the songs, snapped their fingers and even sang along with their hero. One thing that should be pointed out is that this really isn't a "concert" film it is more of a making of film. Although this does nothing to distract from the movie at all, the fans deserve to understand what it is that they will be seeing. Michael would have wanted it that way. Would Michael have wanted his fans to see this film? It is after all nothing but rehearsal footage of Michael and Kenny directing the musicians, and dancers, leaving Michael to say over and over again, that this is why we rehearse. The movie studio, having paid an extraordinary sum of money for the rights to the footage, want the mans fans to go in thinking they will get a behind the scenes look at one of Michael's concerts, that isn't what you get, it is close but it is after all just footage of several rehearsals. We see as Michael oversees several facets of the show, some new animation sequences that were shot just for the concerts, we see how eleven dancers are turned into eleven hundred, we see new 3D footage being shot for the Thriller number, we get behind the scenes as Michael adds footage for Smooth Criminal and we see some footage for Earth Song, this number ends with a huge bulldozer coming onto the stage and stopping just short of Michael who would be standing at the stages edge.

I must confess that I am not nor have I ever been a Michael Jackson fan, but seeing the way the man took the time to make sure he delivered the best for his fans, and also the way that the beat grabbed you, no matter your taste in music, and soon has you snapping your fingers right along side the man or woman next to you. I must say that I now have an admiration for the man and his talent. The Michael we see on screen in This Is it is far removed from the man in his twenties, even his thirties, but he still has the desire and drive to put on a great show. Even if it is just archive footage.

I give This is It a 4 and on my avoidance scale a 0, I can not recommend this movie any more so than by saying it is nearly as flawless as the man himself. I understand that Michael was marred by controversy throughout his life, but this movie isn't about his life it is about his talent, his love and his ability to make people happy, just with his voice. Take your family, maybe introduce the kids to the King of Pop, if they don't already know more about the man then you do. if you have never seen a concert performance by this man this is your ticket to what would have been his farewell, and if you have seen one of his shows then by all means don't miss his last.

This Is It is rated PG for some Suggestive Choreography and Scary Images
Running time is 1 hr. 51 mins.

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