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Review: This is it

Michael Jackson fans need not lose heart. Any doubts they may have harboured about his anticipated comeback — a concert series that tragically never happened — are dispelled right away by This Is It, says Rashid Irani.

movie reviews Updated: Oct 31, 2009 11:46 IST
Rashid Irani

This is it
Cast: Michael Jackson
Direction: Kenny Ortega
Rating: ***

Michael Jackson fans need not lose heart. Any doubts they may have harboured about his anticipated comeback — a concert series that tragically never happened — are dispelled right away by This Is It. The incredible voice and dance moves are on dazzling display.

Assembled from hundreds of hours of rehearsal footage for his ill-fated London shows, this tribute to the ‘King of Pop’ is directed by his longtime collaborator, Kenny Ortega. The material was recorded for the songwriter-performer’s private library and compiled into a theatrical feature following Jackson’s untimely death on June 25.

The documentary takes a while to gather momentum — the first half hour is somewhat drab — but once MJ hits his stride, it soars.

His interactions with the musicians during rehearsals give us a glimpse of his creative process. The set pieces rock, especially the renditions of I’ll Be There, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You and the new title track This Is It. Elsewhere, Jackson belts out Beat It with foot-stomping verve.

The production as well as set designs are impressive. However, the save-the-environment video that serves as a backdrop for the Earth Song number is extremely tacky. On the other hand, inventive use is made of film footage from black-and-white Hollywood classics such as Gilda and In a Lonely Place during the ‘Smooth Criminal’ act.

The film is snazzily edited and Jackson’s music keeps the proceedings going at full blast.

A momentous concert rehearsal movie, This Is It also serves as a fond valediction to the greatest entertainer of his generation.