"This Is It": a phenomenal finale

Nov. 2, 2009, midnight | By Fran Djoukeng | 12 years, 6 months ago

A crowning production starring the King of Pop

In June 2009, the world was riveted by the sudden passing of Michael Jackson. The record-breaking artist was just days from beginning his last curtain call with 50 concerts. Although the chance to experience his majesty has vanished, "This Is It" delivers the "man in the mirror" with all of Jackson's magic.

Starting in April, the film chronicles the making of the never-to-be-seen "This Is It" tour slated for this past summer. Director Kenny Ortega merges rehearsal film footage, behind-the-scene clips, interviews, montages and other video content pertinent to the production beginning with the auditions for the dancers and practice runs of show segments. Most importantly, it highlights Jackson's unique and rare presence while he sang and danced.

The film was a tremendous tribute to Jackson as it emphasized his innate gift as a singer, artist and choreographer. Footage of him centered on the mesmerizing way he sang with his body language. All his signature moves were in effect as he moon-walked, jumped, twisted and strutted on stage. In segment after segment, even at age 50 and visibly skinny, Jackson never missed a beat, physically or vocally. Like a live soundtrack, sound quality was impeccable as the delicate, silky and dynamic voice of Jackson reverberated. The juxtaposition of Jackson's solo stage rehearsals and Jackson's directorial comments showcased how he was the music and could electrify the stage like it was "human nature."

One message is clear from the film's organization: Jackson's ingenuity is not to be underestimated. As he worked with instrumental players to get the correct sounds, he knew ever riff, chord, tempo and melody of his hits. As one of the musicians noted, Jackson was truly "a perfectionist." Song after song, his vocal range was characteristically indescribable; he harmonized effortlessly. Jackson's palpable emotion was the sole focus of the film.

Perhaps the best moments of the film were when Jackson was less serious. It was poignant to witness his humor or a close-up of his smiling face after he finished a number.

Every musical scene and dance segment is detailed in such a way as to tell a story. The diverse footage is engaging, from different angles and color schemes. All the recorded bits capture Jackson's passion while Ortega seamlessly pieces together various elements such as the visual effects (the recreation of a 3-D "Thriller" and digital graphics for "They Don't Care About Us" scene are stunning) or Jackson performing for his adoring fans (the concert crew).

For the lucky few chosen to be an extension of Jackson, the dancers and musicians were candid about Jackson's talent. Jackson's interaction with his crew and technicians was touching; the film strikes a compelling balance of reverence and vivacity. During the numbers "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and "The Way You Make Me Feel" or when Jackson jammed alongside guitarists, his sensuality was tangible.

In all his customary outfits, from sparkly suit jackets and bright skinny pants, or his customary crotch grab, the film portrayed a determined Jackson who wanted to provide an experience his fans expected. Captivating in this film are the scenes where Jackson goes on tangents during rehearsal and embellishes a song with repetition and elaborate choreography. Eerie in this film, however, is the neat arrangement; the clips are so fresh and transitions between shots so flawless. Still, the entire film progressed like a concert - entertaining, ultimately symbolizing the pop prodigy.

Regardless of the way Michael Jackson makes you feel, "This Is It" will rekindle the Jackson billions of people love.

"Michael Jackson's This Is It" (112 minutes) is rated PG for some suggestive choreography and scary images. Now playing in theaters everywhere for a limited release period.

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