If there is anything childish about Michael Jackson in his “This Is It” film, which was taken from footage of his rehearsals from March to his death, it would be that he still had the passion for his music and the energy to perform as if he was still in his prime.
Jackson, 50, died on June 25, just weeks after the first of his 50-date comeback tour was scheduled for July 13 in London, after being on hiatus from the stage for nearly a decade.
Jackson’s dancers, backup singers, band and stage crew were initially the only lucky ones to catch a glimpse of his performances, but Sony Pictures released the clips as a movie on Oct. 28, for the rest of the world to see.
The documentary, directed by Kenny Ortega, consists mainly of rehearsals from Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles that were taped specifically for Jackson’s private collection.
The film begins with a brief introduction of Jackson’s scheduled tour, followed by interviews with Jackson’s backup dancers and music band who speak of Jackson’s impact on them, how it was like to work with him, and most importantly, how Jackson’s sudden death changed everything.
“I’ve been searching for something to shake me up a little bit and give me a meaning to believe in something,” says a teary-eyed dancer in the movie. “And this is it [referring to Jackson’s legacy].”
Jackson was known for his cinematic music videos, and many credited him as being the pioneer of music videos. Standout performances in the movie include remakes of his best-known music videos “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal,” in which legendary stars such as Humphrey Bogart makes a digital appearance.
Other performances include, “They Don’t Care About Us,” “Human Nature,” The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Black or White,” “Earth Song,” Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and even hits from his days singing with his brothers in the Jackson 5, such as “I Want You Back” and “I’ll Be There.” Each song has its own specialized theme and choreography, with Jackson even appearing out of a giant spider on stage during one of the songs.
“This Is It” gives insight on the concert itself, which would have been a spectacular one, that includes elaborate effects on stage such as flames erupting from every section of the platform to Jackson’s outrageous costumes.
The only drawback is Jackson’s constant interruptions during songs that may be an annoyance to those dancing along and enjoying the performance, an indication of Jackson being a perfectionist. While he may have complains about the pounding in his ear from his earpiece or his abrupt stop from singing due to the need to conserve his voice, Jackson holds his composure and never shows any sign of frustration.
The movie is a must-see for every fan, although they shouldn’t expect to see any signs of a frail and unhealthy Jackson. Rather, the film provides a “behind-the-scenes” look on what he was like on stage, whether it was correcting the music director to play his song a certain way, or directing the dancers to move on cue with the music.
But most importantly, the movie gives the world evidence that Jackson was and forever will be the “King of Pop.”