THIS IS IT! - A Fitting Tribute To The King Of Pop
THIS IS IT! (concert rehearsal clips)
Cast: Michael Jackson, Kenny Ortega, Michael Bearden, Travis Payne, Judith Hill, Orianthi Panagaris, Tommy Organ, Mo Pleasure, Stacy Walker and Tony Testa.
Director: Kenny Ortega
Time: 120 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: When Michael Jackson spoke to his fans in London to announce his O2 Concert Tour, he said: "This Is It! This is the final curtain call." That statement turned out prophetic. The curtain fell sooner on his life than he - and all his fans - had
What remains is this concert rehearsal musical - a fitting tribute to the King Of Pop and all that he stood for.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? If we had expected to see a drugged and sick performer struggling through gruelling rehearsals, we would be disappointed. MJ looked definitely in control of his senses and his art. The paces he went through at the rehearsals would tire out any man. The movie was assembled from rehearsal clips from April through June 2009 for a concert tour scheduled for the summer. The footage was shot by a few cameras but they were professional high-definition cameras and the sound track is full Dolby stereo.
The numbers include his old hits - Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It, I Can't Stop Loving You - plus the new title track This Is It!
HITS & ASTONISHMENTS: All that I would like to say about the film is that had the concert been staged, it would had been one helluva show with MJ reasserting himself as the world's top class performer. The musicians and dancers that accompany him
are the cream of their trade. The blonde Australian guitarist Orianthi Panagaris, clad in black boots, who wowed everyone with her screeching guitar solo and fittingly worked to MJ's exhortation: ‘It’s your time to shine,’ - and she did just that.
There are also instances that demonstrate MJ's attention to detail, like in his exchanges with the keyboard player, "You got to let it simmer; bathe in the moonlight".
This Is It! is basically a documentary but there are very limited interviews with dancers and fans. Director Kenny Ortega would not allow any undue interruptions to the show.
I particularly like the intro to the Smooth Criminal number with MJ inserted into vintage footage of Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. And then, of course, he had to champion the environment with footage of a little girl in a rain forest, ending up with him riding a cherry-picker tractor. You just can't help but love this Peter Pan of Pop!
THE LOWDOWN: When the last song is played in the closing credits, you may want to shed a tear for MJ - and probably to queue up to buy tickets for a second viewing.