Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Michael Jackson's This Is It

Okay, folks if anyone by now does not know the background context behind this film, you have been officially living under a rock for the past year or there is really, really something deeply wrong with you. For those of the, eh, how should I put this, the less informed manner, this film is a documentary film built from footage originally intended for Michael Jackson's archives, covering the production and the run-up to his This Is It tour, which as everyone knows never happened, as a result of the death of Michael Jackson. Yes, he is dead, in case you didn't know. Anyway, excuse me, sorry, it's just it has been rammed down my throat so much over the past few months, and it can't not be annoying to some extent, despite my great respect for him and the fact that his music was among the first I ever enjoyed. It's just that everyone has jumped the bandwagon like never before. You know, you thought Heath Ledger's death had necro-clingers, this is like that up to 11. Alright, post-rant, let's see, to start with the good about the film, Kenny Ortega, director of the High School Musical trilogy, which is a lot better than people give it credit, who was directing the concerts, is on board here and does a really solid job of balancing between documenting the process behind the concerts and making a tribute to the singer. Once again, Ortega proves that he is a master for grand spectacles, taking upon his shoulders a behemoth task and performing it with gusto. Also, for what is essentially a bunch of bits intended for the ever-perfectionist Jackson's archive to study, it certainly is a well-done job, all things considered. What I am so glad that the film-makers and all involved did was that they did not let the movie run too long into overtime. They keep it snappy, easy to digest, and fill in the gaps where appropriate and neccessary. Granted, it does get repetitive through it's structure, which continues in the same pattern throughout (people talking about Jackson, set-up of song, song etc), but at least they decide not to let it go on to the point of extreme boredom, overexploiting the whole thing and not sticking to the grand old principle of less is more. Also, seeing as how he is the subject of the film, mention must be made of Michael Jackson himself. Watching him in this film, whilst he has slowed down a pace or two, he makes up for it for his creativity in the overall dance choreography. His voice however, despite his age, seems as youthful and powerful as ever, as though these literally were his last breathes. The power of the songs in this film cannot help but permeate as they always have, and whilst Jackson may be dead, the songs are infinite and drive the film. Also, the production quality of the concerts that never happened were stellar, proving indeed that these concerts would have been the grandest spectacle on stage over the past decade. However, and this where things will get controversial considering the sensitivity felt towards Michael Jackson at present, there are a number of criticisms that must be flagged up. Like many films which are very good, the film-makers do not seem to make the effort to go that extra bit further and make them masterpieces. Granted, this is a good tribute to Jackson, but it certainly is no masterpiece, and will forever be remembered as the Michael Jackson movie, which is not fair by any means. Also, one thing I have a real problem with is the limitations that have been imposed on the film-makers and that this footage has in itself. In the contract between Columbia Picture and AEG Live, the distributors of the film and the concert promoters respectively, it states not only that the film must attain a PG rating, be under 150 mins long, but that "Under the terms of the proposed contract, the film will have to be screened for Jackson's estate and cannot include any footage that puts the superstar in the bad light." Now, I'm sorry, but if that does not sound like limitations and restrictions laid out for the sake of making a family-friendly, non-controversial, non-lengthy film for the sake of earning a bit of extra money, I don't know what it is. Also, notice that Man In The Mirror is the final song in the movie, considering the song was never one of his "classic" songs, good song or not, but quite simply capitalising on it's recent recognition. Finally, the footage itself has it's limitations. Whilst it is refreshing and nice to see this footage, truthfully I feel a YouTube Channel would have been sufficient and, if you want to put it in financial terms, more successful. Considering the popularity of the Internet these days, releasing a new song every week would have been a master viral marketing campaign, and truthfully, a more fitting tribute to Jackson in my opinion. In all honesty, I found some of the footage in the film to be too gushy and cheesy, and felt that it was not truthful representation, but merely filler, and at certain points I was quite bored, garnering one of my rare film toilet breaks. Nonetheless, despite the flaws in the limitations, causing occasional boredom, for what it is it's an enjoyable, touching tribute to Jackson, despite my resignations.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.8/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Iffy

1 comment:

Jack's complete lack of surprise said...

It's me again. I just thought I'd tell you, from one cinophile to another, about some films that I think you would like. I work in a cult video store, you see, so I have access to some forgotten gems. I believe that you would thoroughly enjoy Wristcutters: a Love Story, Frost/Nixon, Lost in La Mancha, Waltz with Bashir, Dead Man, Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Many of these are not new films, and I don't expect you to review them here. I just think they will entertain and educate you. React to this as you want to. I don't know you, so I will not be offended. That is all.