This Week at the Movies: This Is It

Will Hazzard

The world was deeply saddened the day Michael Jackson died. The unexpected death of a great artist always draws attention and of course an ensuing media blitz. Most people at one point in time last summer saw some sort of tribute to life of Michael Jackson chronicling his extraordinary and tumultuous life. However, if there is one film out there that will do Michael Jackson the most justice and portray him in the way he should be remembered, as an artist, it is This Is It, directed by Kenny Ortega. It is a film that captures Jackson at his best, his most creative and his most inspiring.

The film is a documentary covering the rehearsal process for his closing London Shows, scheduled for July of 2009. Beginning with the extensive audition process for the dancers, it moves into each individual practice for the songs we all know and love. The movie also takes time to interview the choreographers, musical directors, set designers and various other creative entities. The movie also takes time to break down the various pre-production aspects of Jackson’s shows such as the video segments that accompany each of his songs. The experience as a whole is overwhelming and awe inspiring. The viewer only really gets a tiny glimpse of the magnitude of these shows. What the viewer sees is only the precursor, a reservation of the true potential. Much is left up to the imagination of what these shows would have been like with thousands of fans and Jackson’s full energy on stage. The songs are continually enjoyable and the viewer can’t help but find themselves singing along to their favorite tunes. The only real problem with the construction of the movie is that fact that it is really a lot of the same thing. The vast majority of the movie is just the rehearsals of the songs. There are long stretches of the film where there are no breaks between the various songs. While this is all well and good, it can become a little tedious. A little more variety in the content would have been a little refreshing.

From a technical standpoint, This Is It is beautifully orchestrated. Considering this film was simply of collection of back up footage that was originally intended to be a personal momentum, it does an excellent job of fleshing out the composition of the shows and the persona of Jackson. Despite having only two cameras, angles are interesting and do a good job of capturing the essence of the show. While it is obvious the viewer is watching a rehearsal, one can’t help but feel like an audience member in the front row of the concert of a lifetime. Shots of Jackson and his band are seamlessly blended together with the background videos to truly create the total concert experience. It is a visual feast for any moviegoer.

Michael Jackson deserved this movie. We see him in the light that blinds out the preconceptions many have placed on the star. We see him as he should always be remembered: a brilliant musical artist and a performer that revolutionized the way we hear popular music. We now all have the chance to see the show we never got to see and experience the man in all his glory. Whether you are a Jackson fan, a lover of documentaries or an aspiring musician, This Is It is the movie for you. If you are not any of those things, I wouldn’t look over this onetime event so quickly. Anyone can take something away from this movie regardless of taste or thoughts on Michael Jackson. Enjoy this movie for all it has come to stand for and the memory that will live on forever.