Michael Jackson: This Is It [Blu-ray]
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Product Description Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts at London’s O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June 2009, this film was produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his planned final London shows. Amazon.com It's hard not to watch This Is It without feeling a mixture of sorrow and elation. When he passed away in the summer of 2009, Michael Jackson was in the midst of rehearsals for his final tour, an ambitious 50-date engagement. In editing 120 hours of rehearsal footage together, Jackson producer Kenny Ortega proves that it would've been an event for the ages. Michael performs material that spans his career, from a Motown medley to multi-platinum hits from Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. Though he hadn't toured in 10 years, it becomes instantly apparent, despite rumors to the contrary, that Jackson was still in full possession of that unmistakable voice--high-pitched whoops and all--and that he still had the gravity-defying moves of a man half his age. Jackson and Ortega also collaborated on some real showstoppers, such as a graveyard-set "Thriller"; an imposing "They Don't Care About Us," in which several dancers appear to morph into thousands; and a film noir sequence in which the singer slides in and out of Gilda and other black-and-white classics, singing "Smooth Criminal" all the while. Not everything works, like the Jackson 5 numbers, in which he flubs a few lyrics, claiming that his earpiece isn't working properly, but as he readily acknowledges, "That's what rehearsal is for." It's a tragedy that he didn't get the chance to share this dazzling show with the world, but Ortega allows fans to feel as if it actually happened--at least onscreen. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Stills from Michael Jackson: This Is It (Click for larger image) Review Off the Wall was a massive success, spawning four Top Ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for Thriller. Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of Thriller, since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable -- an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten (for the record, the terrific "Baby Be Mine" and the pretty good ballad "The Lady in My Life" are not like the others). This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul -- expanding the approach to have something for every audience. That alone would have given the album a good shot at a huge audience, but it also arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star as much as the network helped him. This all would have made it a success (and its success, in turn, served as a new standard for success), but it stayed on the charts, turning out singles, for nearly two years because it was really, really good. True, it wasn't as tight as Off the Wall -- and the ridiculous, late-night house-of-horrors title track is the prime culprit, arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum -- but those one or two cuts don't detract from a phenomenal set of music. It's calculated, to be sure, but the chutzpah of those calculations (before this, nobody would even have thought to bring in metal virtuoso Eddie Van Halen to play on a disco cut) is outdone by their success. This is where a song as gentle and lovely as "Human Nature" coexists comfortably with the tough, scared "Beat It," the sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine," and the frizzy funk of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." And, although this is an undeniably fun record, the paranoia is already creeping in, manifesting itself in the record's two best songs: "Billie Jean," where a woman claims Michael is the father of her child, and the delirious "Wanna Be Startin' Something," the freshest funk on the album, but the most claustrophobic, scariest track Jackson ever recorded. These give the record its anchor and are part of the reason why the record is more than just a phenomenon. The other reason, of course, is that much of this is just simply great music. --Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi