Friday, November 6, 2009

This Actually Isn't Really It

The penultimate title of the Michael Jackson concert film, This Is It, maybe have noble intentions, but it's pretty misleading at best. Certainly while the back-up dancers, vocal singers and musicians are giving it their all 100% of the time, Michael understandably conserves his energy, walking through routines and skipping thorough lyrics. Yes, he does chide a singer for challenging him during a duet, but it is both brief and gentle. The reports of his task mastering in this film have been greatly exaggerated.

Which leads directly into one of the main faults of the film and from what I have read, most reviews of it. I wrote in a post at the time of his death about my feelings of great affection towards the man, but I know that those were not shared by everyone. There might not have been a more polarizing celebrity than Jackson, but it seems even in death, his fans have shown him great reverence and have flocked to see this film. I am surprised at how many respected critics seemed to enjoy the film and praise it merits, but I must admit, through my rose colored lenses which watched Michael dance in awe, waiting for a moonwalk that never happened and knowing every song he was going to sing before he sang it, the movie was not without its faults.

Yes, Michael is meticulous in the vision of his show. And his vision is truly grand. The movie only hints at what would have been an amazing show for those lucky enough to see it. Unfortunately, I feel that now we are the unlucky ones who get to see the skeleton of the show (no pun intended) instead of the spectacle that Michael had planned for everyone. Still, the movie is impressive enough with huge set pieces, special footage shot for new takes on "Smooth Criminal", "Thriller" and "They Don't Care About Us". And admittedly, when the Jackson 5 backdrop came down, I sucked in my breath and got all excited, but slowly exhaled when Michael again walked through the steps and ho-hummed thorough the songs. So, while I remain a huge Michael Jackson fan, I was glad I only paid five dollars to see the movie about a rehearsal of a concert that never happened.

Furthermore, I heard that Sony had planned a limited run in order to shorten the DVD release window and make it possible for a Christmas release. I for one, am a big fan of this strategy and had hoped it would payoff for Sony, thus enabling the damned teenagers behind to see the movie in a few months in their own home where they can talk through the entire film to their heart's content.

Stupid kids.


The Mad Hatter said...

The first moment I knew this movie wasn't going to be what people might have me believe is when Michael was way off rhythm during "Jam".

Any film that could include such a rusty performance was clearly feasting on scraps.

Certainly seems like it would have been a cool concert though, donchathink??

(PS - damn kids!)

Big Mike Mendez said...

Right? Like I said, I'll pay five bucks to go see Michael Jackson on Youtube and twenty bucks to go see Avatar.

Would've been a great show, and maybe a great concert movie, on the level of Talking Heads or maybe even a Stones movie. But, alas, it was not meant to be.

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Branden said...

I love Michael Jackson. I knew that this movie was not going to be the best that Michael wanted.

This movie was taken from 140 hours of footage. It's not bad in that perspective that Kenny Ortega had to make a cohesive film.

I liked it. The reinventions of Thriller, Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel would have been cool.