Directed by: Kenny Ortega
Premise: A compilation of rehearsal footage for Michael Jackson’s This Is It tour, which never came to fruition due to Jackson’s sudden death.
What Works: For a film that is assembled from rehearsal footage, This Is It looks great. The quality of the camera work and sound and the editing of the footage are all well above average for this kind of documentary. Although we only get to see the rehearsal as opposed to the final production, what the film delivers is actually more interesting than a typical concert film, as we get to see Jackson’s creative process at work and the ways in which he improvises and improves the choreography and the music and how he collaborates with director Kenny Ortega and others involved in the production. The film features performances of most of Jackson’s biggest hits and his fans will be able to appreciate one last look at a legendary performer.
What Doesn’t: Although This Is It is put together well, it is, ultimately, a compilation of rehearsal footage and plays more like a special feature from a DVD than a film in and of itself. The whole thing lacks a shape or a structure that leads toward a conclusion and audiences are unlikely to come away from the film with any new understandings of Jackson as a person or as a musician. In fact, This is It is about on par with The Making of “Thriller” documentary that was released in 1983, and in some ways the earlier documentary was superior.
Bottom Line: This Is It is a nice tribute piece and fans of Michael Jackson will definitely want to check it out. As a final word on Jackson as a person or as a performer, the film leaves a lot to be desired.
Episode: #264 (November 8, 2009)