Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Movie Review: Michael Jackson's This is It
Check Out Dance Footage From Michael Jackson's This Is It
I went to see the advance screening of Michael Jackson's This is It last night at the Brenden Theaters at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Having been a fan when I was in school (who wasn't in the early 80s?), and later, I already had incentive to go. But having had a former co-worker and roommate who actually worked for Jackson for 15 years, I had a more personal reasons.
For many years, my friend has relayed stories from his tenure, and even got me a gig at Neverland Valley Ranch once running the bumper cars! So my MJ fandom has an added dimension. I attended a dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe with the "King of Pop Fanatics," which I may not quite qualify for. For instance, while I've owned Thriller and Bad in vinyl and CD, bought Dangerous and HIStory Volume I & II on CD and have had varioius iterations of Jackson's videos on laserdisc and DVD, I'm far from a completist. Blood on the Dancefloor and Invincible never made an appearance in my collection.
I've always thought that Jackson had terrible PR. His people couldn't spin any of his eccentricities well, and he always came off far worse than he might've otherwise. Of course the allegations against him were a PR nightmare. Many people to this day will adamantly insist that he was guilty, even though he was acquitted of all charges. My own personal insight into the stories has lead me to believe that the charges were baseless. But I can understand how others might be inclined to disagree.
Anyway, all of that has little to do with This is It, except that particular dark cloud seems to hang over everything. Fortunately, from the time the picture starts, all the craziness melts into the background. You even forget the rhinoplasty after a while, and just get into the music, the moves, the attention to detail Michael had for his craft.
The biggest revelation of the film is that the tour Jackson was about to embark on was real. After all of the past weirdness and flakiness, many believed the tour was going to somehow be cancelled before it began. But it is hard to come to that conclusion watching the film. If Jackson had survived, he had a hell of a show ready to go. I remember seeing news/entertainment (they really are pretty much one entity now) reports that had Jackson barely able to stand, on oxygen, going through dance moves like a creaky old man. Not true.
The movie is almost a concert film, but since all we get to see is a combination of several dress rehearsals, it is of course a little different. We get to see Jackson perform, though not always in full voice. He dances like crazy, but you can see that he's still mapping out what he's going to do. And he knows exactly what he wants of himself and others.
Most of all, Jackson's treatment of his dancers, musicians and other employees was endearing. He showed respect for them, great deference, and yet still was adamant that he got what he wanted out of them. I liked seeing the playfulness, and the "we'll work it out, it will be amazing" attitude.
For a film that was cobbled together from different video sources at different performances in just a few months, I have to say the producer and the editors did an amazing job. The songs--though not complete, due to the rehearsal nature--were edited together seamlessly. Video produced to be used in the concert tour is used effectively in the film, as well as behind the scenes "making of" information. A cynic might label This is It to be little more than a "DVD special feature" from the missing real concert. And it probably would have been, had that concert tour ever happened. But it never would have been this epic. Great job all around.