Thursday, October 29, 2009

Movie Review: This Is It

Four months after Michael Jackson's death we are being allowed to see what he was doing in those days prior to his death. This was director Kenny Orgeta's love letter to Michael. One should not expect to see the concert it is a documentary about that process. You will get to see what goes into the making of a multi-million dollar concert as conceived and executed by Michael.

For someone like myself who loves to know how things work, this was very engaging. Through out the movie the viewer is given snippets of the audition process, the lighting, stage set up, set transitions, dance preparation, special effects, props, pyrotechnics, and music arrangement. The announcement at the O2 Center in London was covered and the crowd was just wild about the possibility of seeing Michael Jackson's comeback concert. For the people who got tickets, if the show had gone on they would have been treated to a larger than life spectacle that would have been deserving of one called The King of Pop.

Michael is all about the process in this documentary. From the announcement of the concert, meeting the dancers, talking to the lead background vocalist, going back and forth with Kenny, trying different arrangements dance steps. It was an insight to Michael that we, the general public never really got to see.

The collection of video was taken during the start of rehearsal process and watching how it was stitched together while at one point with disconcerting, it showed the evolution of what would have been the final product. We see part of the rehearsal taking place in a room with black walls. We see them in the Staples Center where they were putting together the massive stage. First just a stage and some lighting. Then more lighting. Later we see the massive video screen in the back that would have added lots of dramatic effect to the concert. The clips are not shown in order. Some of the first musical sequences we get to experience are with the what looks like largely completed stage. Some of the songs at the end just have the minimal stage.

Michael himself. There were times during the movie where I got choked up. There is no denying that the man was born for music and entertainment. While the movie didn't get into anything outside of the concert we all know about the circus that surrounded his life. In my mind, I was hoping that these concerts would go well for him so that we could once again enjoy Michael the entertainer. With his death, this will never get to be proved out. He showed that he still had it. I constantly was drawn to his feet and what he could do with them to move around the stage held me spellbound.

With the rehearsal still in process we are treated to the what would have been moments. For Smooth Criminal we get taken backstage to see the taping of what would have been the background video. Combining live action, green screen, and the meshing with old movie footage. We watch as the movie cuts back and forth from what would be shown on the screen to what is happening on the stage. During Thriller we watch as corpse rise from their graves and are taped. Kenny and Michael are there giving directions for the dancers/actors as they watch on a special monitor using 3D glasses. In the last number we watch the background videos and then see a computer 3D mock up of what was to have played out on the stage.

What would have been if Michael hadn't passed away. Although I wasn't going to see the concerts there in London, I'm glad that I had a chance to see that Michael was as creative as ever putting this performance together. When you go to see the movie, make sure you stay through the credits. There are little bits added in there for you. Lately I've made it a habit to stay through what I call the "Blue screen or rating"

This movie is rated PG due to some of the crotch grabbing we've seen in Michael's choreography before and running time of 112 minutes.