Given the constant and overwhelming media frenzy surrounding Michael Jackson's untimely death, I was less than eager to see "This Is It." But less than five minutes into this amazing documentary, my adrenaline was pumping so profusely, I found it impossible to sit still. Director Kenny Ortega manages to capture the genius behind this phenomenal performer — perhaps the greatest musical talent ever.
Assembled from hundreds of hours of rehearsal footage (shot between April and June) for his upcoming concert tour, the film is startling. Having been barraged with reports of MJ's failing health, I expected to witness a frail, unsteady and out-of-it former icon. Instead, the 50-year-old Jackson is totally at the top of his game, in superb physical condition and so energetic that he out dances even the youngest of his co-workers.
Ortega focuses on Jackson's control over every aspect of the creative process. His obsession with perfection leads to frustration over minute details but never in an angry or condescending manner. It's abundantly clear that Jackson is a kind, humble, completely centered individual. And his passion is infectious; everyone who's working with this man has a smile on his or her face. They love this guy.
"This Is It," the tour, would have been mind blowing. Not satisfied with just singing and dancing, Jackson and Ortega whip up some ingenious special effects. Mini movies, one which is Jackson interacting with Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart in "Gilda" are killer cool. An addendum to the "Thriller" video is even, dare I say, better than the original. Also included is rare rehearsal footage of classic Jackson Five tunes ("I'll Be There" and "I Want You Back").
The team of Don Brochu, Brandon Key, Tim Patterson and Kevin Stitt do an extraordinary job of editing, which contributes to the film's pulsating pace. And I'd be remiss in not mentioning the unbelievable guitar work of Orianthi Panagaris who's told by MJ, "It's your turn to shine." And, wow, is it. She is as hip and sexy as her boss.
Admittedly, I had a lump in my throat for the entire 112 glorious minutes that "This Is It" occupied. Michael Jackson changed the way we perceived music on so many levels. His talent was unparalleled. He was loved by so many people around the world, including me. Thank you, Michael.
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