This Is It (2009/Michael Jackson/Sony Blu-ray + CD Set)
Sound: B Extras: C+/C Film: B/B-
of Michael Jackson is not what anyone expected.
At first, it seemed surreal and at its most cynical, seemed like a
publicity stunt of some crazy ploy. How
be dead? Isn’t he working on a new
comeback tour? He has so much money
despite his debts, how could this happen?
Maybe the death of Farrah Fawcett was so shocking that the fact he had
died too was too much to take; two of the 1970s most important icons gone for
good, but it was the ugly truth and he too was really gone. This
Is It could have been an exploitation piece and we have seen some trying to
take advantage of the situation, but it turns out to be a sad surprise.
long-time collaborator and choreographer Kenny Ortega has been one of his
biggest supporters and he took on the project of editing and directing (which
he was in effect doing as you can see when you watch) the hard work, plans,
rehearsals, creativity and culmination of what would have pretty much been the
biggest comeback in music since Tina Turner return in 1984 with Private Dancer. No expense was being spared, no detail being
left to chance and the result would have been proof that Jackson still had it.
reports to the contrary, he still had plenty of energy, all of his facilities,
full control of his dancing abilities and his voice still in great shape as the
111 minutes of this surprisingly compelling work show. They shoot new video footage, push the latest
technology, hire a great group of dancers with serious energy, bring on the
best music and plan a show that would have been worth every penny of the
highest ticket prices. The taping was
both for study and Jackson’s
personal library. Instead, it turned out
to be the final word on his talent and that it had not gone away.
various scandals and the fact that his musical themes had slowly grown darker
since he parted ways with Quincy Jones did not help his vast popularity,
especially with the youngest children he was originally reaching, but he still
cared about the music and enough fans were waiting for him to get his act back
together so they could enjoy him again.
It is with some irony that his mixed album Invincible arrived just days
before the 9/11 attacks, but it killed the album, which would be his last
Ortega has made sure to do here with this release is show what a great show
this was, would have been and that like Turner and Elvis in 1968, Jackson would
have reaffirmed his legend with this return.
was 50 and even he knew this would be his last tour, though never say
never. However, the grand statement
Ortega successfully makes by finishing this film is to show that he was a
legend, was a great performer and submits this as the last testimony to
that. He is correct. It is amazing just to see the
behind-the-scenes footage, so a final polished show would have gone through the
roof. It is a classy, extravagant final
word on Ortega’s part, making sure Jackson
goes out on top in a profound manner.
CD tie-in soundtrack set has been issued with CD 1 offering 24 original studio
versions of the songs being done for the show plus two versions of the title
song. One has vocal and one is more
instrumental based. As has been
reported, the song was the best of what was left behind and turns out to be
from a collaboration with the great Paul Anka that Jackson cut-off after working with Anka (also
a former teen idol) decades ago. It is
not bad, but not great. If Jackson had just seen the
project through with Anka, it would have likely been a better song. CD 2 has four bonus songs that are demo
versions of four of the hits: She’s Out
Of My Life, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,
Beat It and Planet Earth.
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image has some fine moments, especially when
we see the final results of the new footage being shot for the giant video
screens for the tour that never happened.
We also get more than a few low definition footage moments and just
about all the footage is digital, but it is often High Definition. Editing is a plus, but it does have its
motion blur moments and has the same flaws you would expect from any
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is usually like a documentary in that you
get location audio flaws, some good stereo moments and older music audio can
sound good. However, this is at its best
when the newly recorded live music and music for the practice segments kick in
and really engage the surrounds. Too bad
this was not more often, but even audiophile fans (especially of Jackson, still unhappy
with that lame 2-channel SA-CD of Thriller)
will be impressed at those moments. The
PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo on the CDs are just fine for what they are, though the
demos can have some flaws and slight compression.
include Blu-ray exclusive BD-Live and movieIQ interactive features, Making Smooth Criminal featurette about
the new Video shot for the tour and vignettes *in 5.1 sound) on Smooth Criminal and Thriller. Also offered are 2
Making Of featurettes and 3 additional featurettes: The Gloved One – Costumes, Memories
Of Michael and Auditions: Searching
For The World’s Best Dancers. The CD
has a nice color booklet built inside the bound package and two of the pages
hold the two CDs. My only complaint is
that the pages have a slight opening at the bottom where they should not.