This Is It
I still want to know just how dirty Diana really is.

Theatrical Release Date: 10/28/2009
Director: Kenny Ortega
Cast: Michael Jackson

Regardless of what you thought of the man and the scandal that plagued the last part of his life, there is no denying that he was an amazing choreographer and a consummate showman. Originally meant for his personal library, this 112-minute film is a compilation of interviews and rehearsals. It allows the audience a rare and very personal backstage pass to the King of Pop himself as he prepared for a series of sold out shows in London.

The film opens with audition interviews of various dancers, which is a little gushy – bordering on maudlin at times. On the other hand, I was impressed by not only the scale of the auditions, but also by how many Michael Jackson had inspired to become dancers.

Michael promised that this concert series would be filled with the music that fans wanted to hear and wow, did he deliver on that promise … playing classics like Beat It, Thriller, Billy Jean, Man in the Mirror, and even a song from the Jackson 5. It was touching to hear the audience sing along occasionally. While I haven’t been a Michael Jackson fan since the late 80’s, I have to admit that this film helped to remember why I had been a fan.

From a technical point of view, this movie was all over the place. First of all, the fully choreographed routines were awesome, well synchronized with sharp angles and lines, but there were also a handful of odd movements, which I can only hope were improvised including one scene where MJ lays down and does the bicycle.

Second, there were a variety of new videos that I assume were to be used in the background during the concert. Some of these new videos were amazing, but others were cheesy and felt unfinished. I really liked the video and routine where they multiplied the dancers into military formations, but thought that the remake of Thriller was reminiscent of Disney and not nearly as good as the original.

Third, the shots were out of focus and not germane or well thought out. Finally, the vocals were often overpowered by the music and Michael fully admits that he’s not singing to his full potential since he needs to conserve his throat. Basically, I often felt like I wish I could see this routine from a slightly different perspective or get to see more of the dress rehearsal. While, I fully realize that this footage may not exist, and that this was shot for Michael’s personal use (thus is more like a home movie in production quality), I still longed for a more polished product.

This movie gave you a rare personal look into the man behind the music. Michael appeared energized, strong, and very soft spoken. He was involved in every detail of the creation of this experience and was obviously well loved by his entire cast and crew. All in all this would have been a great multimedia event, but it’s unpolished and unfinished. It’s worth seeing if you have the interest, but is not a must see in my opinion, earning a 3.5 out of 5.