What Might Have Been
The documentary "This Is It" is a chronicle of the rehearsals for Michael Jackson's comeback tour. It was compiled from hours of footage that were shot during the day to day work getting ready to launch Michael's first major concert tour in years. As we all know the "comeback" never took place due to Michael Jackson's death this past June. So all the hard work never came to fruition, but at least this memory of the effort has been captured.
The scenes show a variety of rehearsals which featured different songs from Michael's repertoire of hits. With each song we see the perfectionist that Jackson was. He knew his voice, he knew the song, and he knew his audience. Though soft-spoken his control of the product was evident. Kenny Ortega may have been the nominal director of the show but this film shows that Michael was the boss.
The people working for Michael Jackson appear to have adored him. You can see it in their willingness to do things over and over, and in the emotion in their faces when they watched him perform. He was the master and they were all acolytes learning from him.
"This Is It" lets us see Michael Jackson the performer but there is little shown of the man himself. Everything takes place at the rehearsal venues and there are no personal tales or anecdotes presented by those interviewed. It is a shame the focus of the film is so narrow and the portrait of Michael the man so sketchy.
Since these are rehearsals we are watching, there is no smooth performance to be admired. Everything is building up to the "comeback" performance and it never took place. Therefore we get the motions of the concert but not the emotions of it. Jackson gives us a feel for what he can do but we never see him full force. He is holding back, protecting his voice, and conserving his energy.
The film is rated PG for some scary images in the "Thriller" number and for some sexually suggestive dance moves.
Michael Jackson's fans should love this final homage to their idol. Others, who are less adoring of Jackson, may find the film too much of a rough cut. They will want the full on technically perfect Jackson and they won't get it.
This film shows what could have been but never was. It is the best we can ask from the people behind the man. The scenes are from the rehearsals for a big day that never dawned. It is all that is left -- this is it!
I scored "This Is It" a rehearsed 7 out of 10.
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