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Michael Jackson's This Is It(2009)
A rare glimpse into the final days of Michael Jackson, the documentary is compiled from an estimated 80 hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage of the legendary entertainer preparing for his 50 sold-out shows at London's O2 Arena that were scheduled to commence in July 2009 before his untimely death in June at age 50. Interviews with collaborators and close friends of the late performer are also featured.
For more about Michael Jackson's This Is It and the Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray release, see Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 19, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Kenny Ortega
Starring: Michael Jackson, Orianthi Panagaris, Tommy Organ, Bashiri Johnson, Jonathan Moffett, Alex Al
» See full cast & crew
Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray Review
"This is It,' a celebration of life rather than a remembrance after death, is a must-own Blu-ray for both Michael Jackson fans and connoisseurs of exceptional filmmaking.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 19, 2010
This is the final curtain call.
On June 25th, 2009, the world lost one of its preeminent entertainers, a musical sensation whose career spanned decades, topped charts, and touched the lives of millions upon millions of fans around the world. One of the most recognizable names and faces of the 20th century and dubbed "The King of Pop," entertainer Michael Jackson was on the cusp of an ambitious and large-scale London comeback tour. Entitled "This is It," his series of highly-anticipated concerts were set to kick off only weeks after his untimely death. Soon thereafter, work began on a farewell motion picture, assembled from "This is It" rehearsal footage, and was met with enthusiasm, skepticism, and outright anger by fans and pundits; the fear of a rushed production and a cash-in on Jackson's death and heightened media awareness surrounded the film's release, but the picture -- entitled This is It -- proves for both longtime Jackson fans and relative newcomers to the Pop sensation's music a powerful and exceptionally engrossing Music Documentary, the film ripe with enthusiasm and portraying Michael as a quiet but energetic individual with nothing but a passion for his craft, a love for his fans, and a dedication to making the world around him a better place. This is It isn't a biography; it's not about Jackson's life, his ups and downs, the accusations and the oddities, or the seemingly unending controversy that followed the superstar in his later years. No, This is It is Michael Jackson in the raw, capturing his final months and the toil of creating a one-of-a-kind show for the fans. This is It is Michael Jackson doing what he was born to do.
In the spring of 2009, 50-year-old Michael Jackson -- whose life had known nothing but the spotlight since the Jackson 5's first single debuted in 1968 -- was preparing to return to the concert stage following a 10-year absence. This is It -- so named after Jackson's never-realized comeback tour -- captures the Pop sensation in rehearsal for his epic and sweeping London tour, the film offering a glimpse into what might have been and, more importantly, into the soul of a quiet and exceptionally-talented man on the verge of returning to what he knew best and loved most. This is It, directed by Kenny Ortega (High School Musical), focuses not only on the music but the man behind it and his dedication to and love for his craft. Portrayed as a perfectionist but also a mild-mannered superstar with a welcoming persona, This is It features Jackson in various costumes and venues rehearsing some of the most prized numbers from his repertoire, including "Human Nature," "I'll Be There," "Thriller," "Beat It," "Black or White," "Billie Jean," and "Man in the Mirror." Additionally, This is It covers a broader spectrum that includes an extended and passionate focus on the hopes and dreams of young dancers eager to earn a spot on the stage with Jackson, the advanced technology and set construction implemented for the performances, and wardrobe selection. Though focused on Jackson, This is It smartly entwines a fascinating report on the support structure around the man that made him a spectacle on stage, a legend of music and dance, and the King of Pop.
Though Michael Jackson's death is no longer front-and-center in the public conscience or the lead story on every newscast, This is It nevertheless remains timely and captivating but with nary hint of a morbid or otherwise unnerving feel that detracts from the film's sensational glimpse into Michael's world. Instead, This is It is real, even touching at times, and exceptionally produced. Aside from Jackson's on-stage artistry, splendid vocal abilities, and the excitement and pomp and circumstance surrounding even just the rehearsal footage and the spectacle of what would have been, another star of the show is Director Kenny Ortega's assemblage of the footage that not only presents Jackson performing one song after another, but also creates a narrative with purpose, vision, and emotion. The film is a celebration of life and talent and not simply of remembrance after death; the film ends without delving into the aftermath of the superstar's passing, leaving audiences invigorated rather than down, joyful for having experienced the Pop sensation's final rehearsals and feeling his energy and enthusiasm rather than depressed and reliving the loss that shocked the world well before its time. Indeed, This is It celebrates a man by portraying him in an unscripted and unrehearsed environment, the film showcasing a talent that still appears vigorous and enthusiastic and strives for perfection with every note, look, and move, and, so it seems, doing it because he loves what he does and those for whom he does it.
Certainly, Ortega's storytelling ability is first-rate, particularly considering the director's knack for constructing a story where there originally was none, a challenge to be sure for any director and focusing on any subject and one that's multiplied many times over considering the scrutiny sure to follow a compilation film that features a stalwart figure in the music business, an icon of the 20th century, and an idol to millions around the world. Indeed, Ortega acquits himself splendidly, his film capturing an honest and endearing tone that never seems self-aggrandizing or otherwise manipulative for profit or motive, other than, of course, to bring full circle a career marked by triumph and tragedy and to conclude it with a magnum opus, a Music Documentary for the ages and certainly suitable for the King of Pop. Still, the film's power comes from Jackson's performances, and This is It allows its audience to become lost in each number, the film inviting a toe-tapping good time with every rehearsed song, many seemingly ready for the spotlight. For anyone not familiar with at least a couple of Michaels's songs, the energy behind his performances and the flowing beats of his music are captured wonderfully here. If this is what Jackson put into his rehearsals -- particularly considering a traumatic 10-year absence -- one can only imagine what was and never will be again, the spectacle, the power, the artistry, the majesty of it all. Unfortunately, this was indeed it, but the superstar's legacy will live on forever thanks to a powerful, fun, and sometimes moving one-of-a-kind Documentary masterpiece.
Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray, Video Quality
Michael Jackson's This is It features a 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer that's a mixture of high definition and standard definition video footage, but the end result is nevertheless an overall strong visual presentation when taken in the proper context and allowing for the flaws inherent to the source. As one might expect, the high definition material proves the visual star of the show and, generally, looks exceptional. It's rather crisp, clean, and nicely detailed; viewers will note every stubble of facial hair on Michael's face in one scene; beads of sweat and tears of joy on dancers' faces; scuffs on floors; or stitches, beads, and other adornments on clothing. Colors are fairly rendered, whether the frame be awash in multicolored mood and accent lighting or showcasing Michael's bright red pants seen here and there throughout the film, This is It's color palette shines brightly even though the film often takes on something of a slightly dark tone. Indeed, much of the film features dark or hazy backgrounds, but the transfer resolves them with ease, never delivering anything but pristine blacks and the image pleasantly free of excessive banding or other problematic anomalies. The film is intercut with standard definition material, and while it proves a drastic downgrade in quality, the strength of the film often allows for viewers to overlook the sudden shift and accept the lesser material in favor of the strong thematic and visual presentation and consistently exceptional soundtrack. Still, such scenes appear with jagged edges, aliasing, cross coloration, reduced sharpness, and the like. It's clearly inferior, but it's also unfair to criticize it for being what it is and with no room for improvement. All told, This is It looks excellent on Blu-ray, the high definition material in particular a pleasant surprise and translating exceptionally well to Blu-ray.
Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Michael Jackson's This is It features a mesmerizing DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Nothing but the best would do, and Sony's latest lossless endeavor ranks among the best the format has to offer. For as good as the film looks, this soundtrack tops it, and from the opening beats onward, it dazzles with every musical number but also solidifies itself as an exceptional track even in quieter scenes with a more nuanced audio presentation. The beats of the uptempo songs penetrate the listening area with tremendous clarity; repeatedly thumping bass as heard during "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" pleasantly but powerfully pulsate into and throughout the soundstage. Additionally, everything from the percussion drums to the pyrotechnic explosions are handled marvelously by the DTS mix as every beat, syllable, and sound effect are delivered with pinpoint accuracy. Every note, from the highest trumpet rhythms to the heaviest guitar riffs, is richly recreated, and the spread of sound and style -- whether the pulsating rhythms of "Beat It" or the more soothing and relaxed tone of "Human Nature" -- never poses a challenge to the disc's amazing clarity at every turn. Additionally, dialogue is wonderfully executed, and voices finely reverberate through the cavernous rehearsal areas in several scenes. The track is simply electric, and Michael Jackson fans in particular are destined to adore this track for what is one of the quintessential sonic presentations of the King of Pop's top songs. Like some films are best experienced on large screens, This is It demands a spacious, powerful sound presentation; built-in television speakers just won't do this one justice.
Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Michael Jackson's This is It arrives on Blu-ray with a solid assortment of extra content. First up is Staging the Return (1080p, 40:46), a two-part Documentary that examines the "This is It" tour. Beginning with The Adventure Begins (1080p, 28:13), the piece features various people from within Jackson's circle looking back on the artist's career and the formation of what would become the comeback tour and final series of performances that never was. It focuses on the scope of the production, the involvement of Kenny Ortega, the assemblage of the crew, Michael's visions for the show, the surprises Jackson and the team had in store for fans, the incorporation of 3D technology in the show, and Michaels' insistence on adding meaningful depth to the show. Part two, Beyond the Show (1080p, 13:25), examines Jackson's passion for and understanding of his craft, his ability to entertain without the glitz and glamour of technology, the planned exit from the stage, his final rehearsal on the day before his death, and the role of This is It in telling the story of Jackson's last days.
'Thriller' Vignette With 5.1 Audio (1080p, 3:51) and 'Smooth Criminal' Vignette With 5.1 Audio (1080p, 3:58) are a pair of completed sequences that were meant to precede their accompanying songs on a giant video screen behind and above the stage. Making 'Smooth Criminal' (1080p, 11:08) takes viewers on a detailed behind-the-scenes tour of the construction of the video that places Michael inside a vintage black-and-white noir film, Gilda, starring Rita Hayworth. Next up is The Gloved One (1080p, 15:13), a piece that takes an in-depth look at Michael's attire -- designed by Zaldy -- for the "This is It" tour. Memories of Michael (1080p, 16:19) features a broad array of people around the Michael Jackson "This is It" camp sharing their recollections of the late Pop sensation. Next is Auditions: Searching For the World's Best Dancers (1080p, 9:50), a piece that takes a further look at the search for background dancers to participate in the show, expanding on one of the film's more interesting, memorable, and emotional sequences. Also included is BD-live functionality; Sony's MovieIQ connectivity with the This is It playlist; the Michael Jackson's This is It theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:31); and additional 1080p trailers for Grown Ups, It Might Get Loud, Soul Power, Ghostbusters, A River Runs Through It, Salt, Ice Castles, and Hachi: A Dog's Tale.
Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Michael Jackson's This is It is a career-defining Documentary, a fitting final tribute to an icon of entertainment, and an exceptional film from both thematic and entertainment perspectives. Surprisingly deep and moving but also tremendously fun if only for the enjoyment of the music and performances, This is It is an excellent piece that's sure to please longtime Michael Jackson fans but also serves as a wonderful, no-bias, nuts-and-bolts introduction to the man's music and dance choreography. Both visual spectacle and a celebration of life of one of entertainment's most renowned performers, This is It is simply one of the best films of its kind. Sony has rolled out the red carpet for This is It; the Blu-ray presentation features a true-to-the-many-sources 1080p transfer, a pristine lossless soundtrack, and solid array of extra materials. Highly recommended.
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Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Buy Michael Jackson's This Is It and Another Blu-ray, Save $5 - January 28, 2010
Amazon is having a special promotion linked to the Blu-ray release of 'Michael Jackson's This Is It'. If you buy it together with another qualifying Blu-ray title, a discount of $5 will be applied at checkout. At the time of writing, there are twenty eligible movies, ...
• Today on Blu-ray - January 26th - January 26, 2010
To some, he was known as the “King of Pop”. To others, he was “Wacko Jacko”. But to most, Michael Jackson was one of the most gifted and influential singers of his time. His untimely passing while rehearsing for a comeback tour caused shock throughout the world, ...
• Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray Announced - November 29, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that it will release 'Michael Jackson's This Is It', the movie documenting the late performer's rehearsals for a series of London concerts cancelled after Jackson's sudden passing, on Blu-ray on January 26, 2010. It ...
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