Michael Jackson's This Is It (PG)



Documentary (2009)
111mins US

Starring: Michael Jackson
Director: Kenny Ortega
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

The death of Michael Jackson in June, shortly before a planned series of 50 sell-out concerts at the O2 Arena in London, sent shockwaves around the world. With the full support of the singer's estate, this revealing documentary offers a glimpse at what might have been, drawing upon hundreds of hours of backstage and rehearsals footage shot predominantly at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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LondonNet Film Review
Michael Jackson This Is It

This is it - the behind the scenes film of the 50-date concert series at the O2 Arena in London that sadly never was...

Michael Jackson THIS IS IT. © Sony Pictures Releasing UKHastily constructed from hundreds of hours of backstage and rehearsals footage, Kenny Ortega's documentary is a glowing tribute to the King Of Pop as he prepares for one of the most spectacular live shows of his career. "Here is a glimpse of the personal gift Michael was preparing for his fans and the audiences of the world," announces the sombre, opening credits crawl against a black screen, which bursts into life with dancers preparing to audition for a coveted role on the tour. "She's the one," says Michael pointing to a willowy blonde as the show's director Kenny Ortega announces the names of the principal dancers to screams and tears of delight.

The rehearsals footage, shot predominantly in June at Staples Center in Los Angeles and The Forum in Inglewood, California, opens with a foot-thumping rendition of "Bad" and segues into "Jam" with male dancers flanking the star in perfect time. The hits come one after another: "They Don't Care About Us" with a futuristic military theme, "Billy Jean", "Beat It", "Black And White" and a delicate version of "Human Nature", which reveals the singer has lost none of the melody in his voice. For "Smooth Criminal" we go behind the scenes of a green screen video shoot to insert Jackson into black and white movies clips including Rita Hayworth's glove striptease in Gilda then a chase involving Humphrey Bogart. A second video shoot for Thriller in 3D cuts back to the venue where Michael emerges from a giant black widow spider that scuttles onto the stage. A sound check for "The Way You Make Me Feel" leads to a difference of opinion with musical director Michael Bearden over subtle changes in key and tempo. "You gotta let it simmer," says Michael, trying to let the music build slowly. All that remains is a triumphant rendition of "Man In The Mirror" culminating in the epitaph, "Michael Jackson. King Of Pop. Love Lives Forever."

Michael Jackson THIS IS IT. © Sony Pictures Releasing UKScreening for a limited two-week engagement, This Is It is an opportunity for the fans to witness arguably one of greatest pop concerts never staged. A lot of the footage is rough and some of the sound is muffled but Ortega has cut together scenes with impressive attention to detail, employing split screens when appropriate. At times, Jackson looks painfully thin and gaunt as he strives to perfect each arrangement but for the most part, the film captures a musician at the height of his powers, excited to be reconnecting with fans in a live environment. Sadness over his death mixes with regret that we never got to enjoy his vision at the O2. If only...

- Jo Planter


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