Imagine watching your favorite musician half-ass song and dance numbers for two straight hours. It’d get pretty boring, right? The whole time, you’d want to hear them fully belt out a song, or break it down with some flashy moves. The whole time, you’d expect a payoff, something to make all the waiting worthwhile. If you expect that payoff with This Is It, Michael Jackson’s swan song of a film, then you’ll be waiting for a long while.
I get it. I understand all well that a singer can’t wear out their voice during rehearsal, they need to save it for the big show, for the fans that forked out all the dough. So my criticism is not aimed at Jacko at all, it’s more towards director/choreographer Kenny Ortega, for even wanting to release the film. Originally, as we’re told in an extended opening disclaimer, the footage for This Is It was shot for Jackson’s personal video library. So basically, no one was ever supposed to see it, and now we know why.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic set pieces here. The best of which has Jackson shooting it out with Humphrey Bogart via digital imaging. It’s a real treat to see Jackson dressed in ‘40s threads, running through lavish black and white set pieces. I’m sure it would’ve worked great as an opening to ‘Smooth Criminal’.
But don’t expect to hear the songs you love, the way you want to hear them. Instead, Jackson sort of croons on, or shuffles about; giving hints at his lasting greatness, but never showing us his all. Also, those expecting any insight into Jackson’s warped mentalities should look elsewhere. For the most part he comes off as earnest and tenderly controlling.
In the end, I was bored with the film but found it an appropriate end to a miraculous career. It leaves you wanting more, which of course, we’ll never get. Throughout most of the film I kept thinking, “Damn, I wonder what this would’ve looked like as a finished show.” That would’ve been a hell of a sight to see. C