Michael Jackson’s This Is It (2009)

this is it poster 2009 movie michael jackson
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

A preview of what might have been

Kind of profits on the death of Michael Jackson

Movie Info

Movie Name: Michael Jackson’s This Is It

Studio: AEG Live

Genre(s): Documentary/Musical

Release Date(s): October 28, 2009

MPAA Rating: PG

michael jackson this is it the way you make me feel

This Is It!!!

This is it!  When Michael Jackson announced a concert series at the O2 arena on March 5, 2009, he promised that not only was he planning it to be his farewell tour, but that it would be a concert that no one would forget.  With massive sets, hundreds of workers and dancers, and a discography of top songs, This Is It promised to be an amazing experience.  The plans all came crashing down on June 25, 2009 when Jackson died at his Los Angeles home before the concerts could begin.  This Is It collects and shows what Michael Jackson was planning…this is it.

Directed by Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson’s This Is It is a musical documentary film about Jackson’s plans for his final concert series.  The film was met with a mixed reception from fans and Jackson’s family since it was never intended to be released and most of the footage was for Jackson’s personal library.  Despite this, the film received positive reviews and became the highest grossing concert film of all time.

michael jacksons this is it behind the scenes

A perfectionist and an artist

Michael Jackson was on pretty shaky ground in 2009.  He hadn’t had a massive hit in a while (his last album release Invincible came out in 2001 and didn’t fare well) and continued to face allegations of abuse in addition to increasingly odd public behavior.  The London concert was meant to be a throwback to the old Michael Jackson for his rabid fans and an attempt to win back some of the fans he might have lost.  While the big stage show never happened, Michael Jackson’s This Is It does succeed in painting a better picture of Jackson by reminding viewers that he’s an artist.

What This Is It does best is that it doesn’t give Michael Jackson much of a spin.  While the footage is shot for Jackson and praises him over and over again (it is assumed that it would be made into a video for Jackson later), it shows some of Jackson’s thought process, his attachment to the music, and doesn’t focus on his behavior which was largely the media coverage of his last years…he’s a singer and performer.

michael jacksons this is it behind the scenes video

It takes a lot to put on a show…

With that being said, it is/isn’t a concert film.  While smartly edited from multiple run-throughs, Jackson isn’t performing, he’s practicing.  It is interesting to see his process, but it also means you don’t get a full-fledged version of any of his songs.  At one point, he makes it clear that he is saving his voice.  You see how musicians block and run-through their music without hitting all the high notes and tough hits to their vocal cords.

What is also interesting is to see the behind the scenes of a massive concert.  Like the concerts in Las Vegas, the production had multiple sets, costume changes, movies that tied into the songs, and tons of people employed…even seeing some of the renderings in the film, I don’t understand how it would have all worked.  The loss of the concert series is one of the more tragic parts of the film (which doesn’t go into Jackson’s health or death).  You see how important the concert was for the performers and creators.  With Jackson’s death, the dangers, musicians, and creators were out of work and the experience of performing with a legendary performer…it wasn’t just Jackson’s family who lost Michael Jackson, it was his coworkers.

michael jacksons this is it documentary

The end is here…

Michael Jackson’s This Is It does have merit in that you see a different side of a culture icon who was both controversial and popular.  Before Michael Jackson himself became the story, Michael Jackson’s music and performances made him famous.  Rumors and innuendoes surrounding Jackson were never proven in court, and there have been many attempts to prove or disprove Michael Jackson’s alleged behavior.  This Is It skirts all of that and just presents a performer who at fifty (and battling drug addiction) still had the moves and style that many performers younger than him lost…Michael Jackson (good or bad) was one of a kind, and This Is It is a reminder.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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