MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: The King of Pop
Director: Kenny Ortega
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Features: See Review
Length: 111 Minutes
Release Date: January 26, 2010
“Hold for applause…hold for applause…and fade out.”
It’s still hard for me to believe Michael Jackson is no longer with us.
For those of you much younger than I, you might have grown up in the afterglow of the indescribable success Michael had in the early 80s, but you didn’t get a chance to experience the explosive worldwide phenomenon first hand. Those of us lucky enough to be youngsters or teens at the time got to be a part of something that can only be compared to the breakout of The Beatles in the 1960s. Michael Jackson had been a star, even a household name for a long time as the boy who fronted the Jackson 5 and led them to hit after hit in the 70s. But it was as a solo artist that this young man from Gary, Indiana truly shook up the world and forever changed it.
This Is It, therefore, is both a joyful celebration of a glorious past and a wistful longing for a future that will never be. It was an intimate chronicle of the undisputed King of Pop preparing for his new tour celebrating his 50 years on the planet and the fans that made him one of the most successful artists of all time. Michael passed on before he could bring one show to his audiences, but the cameras that captured his rehearsing and the assembling of what would have been a historic 50 date tour have brought us a fitting finale to the man and the legend.
With amazing sets and costumes, talented dancers and an absolutely amazing back up band, Michael was getting ready to bring to the world a showcase of the music that helped define popular culture for most of my life. All the songs you most want to hear are done; and even though Michael sometimes says he’s holding back in the rehearsals to save his voice for the real show, whenever there was a small crowd, even if it was only his stagehands and dancers, he couldn’t help but open up and deliver as only he could. That was part of his magic; it didn’t matter if the audience was millions or just ten people. Michael always put his full heart and soul into every performance, and few, if any, could match him in that respect.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the movie is during a segment in which Michael embraces his Jackson 5 days, singing both “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save”. But when he opens up and delivers an astonishingly potent rendition of “I’ll Be There”, it’s as if time had stood still and continued to do so. It was like Michael was never gone, and that all of the legal issues and controversies that had become synonymous with his name in recent years had never happened.
This tour would have been one of the most phenomenal rock and pop events in music history, and it’s heartbreaking to think it never got a chance to happen. But thanks to this film, some devoted artists, and mostly Michael himself, we will always remember the man and his music. 50 years old or not, when he took to the stage, he was, and forever will be, in his prime.
This is everything I hoped it would be on Blu-ray…this is Michael Jackson’s last vision presented to the world, and it looks absolutely glorious in high definition. You can tell some hi-def cameras were used and some that were standard, but the overall mix of footage is beautifully crisp and colorful, and given the intimate nature of the events, without large audiences, this disc really makes you feel like you’re there. The footage shot for background video is also extraordinarily detailed and intricate.
Likewise, this solid DTS 5.1 mix brings all the excitement of Michael’s hits to vivid life in live performance form. As mentioned, his band is untouchable, and with this mix, you can hear everything in powerful dynamic glory. Michael’s showmanship shines here; sometimes he brings everything gently down to pin-drop level before bringing the music to explosive climaxes. An absolutely joyful listen.
There are two making-of documentaries and three featurettes on costumes, auditioning the dancers, and remembering Michael, along with the full vignettes conceived for “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller”. An optional Movie IQ track can run while you watch for even more behind-the-scenes information.
What Michael Jackson brought to the world will never be forgotten, and This Is It will forever remind all of us fans how much more he had to give. This is not the mourning of a life lost too soon, but a celebration of music, talent and spectacle, the likes of which will always be the legacy of the King of Pop.