For Michael Jackson fans like myself, “This Is It” is the closest we’ll ever come to seeing the late legend live.
Luckily for us, it doesn’t disappoint.
Earlier this year, a film crew captured Jackson and crew rehearsing for what was supposed to be Jackson’s comeback, a group of London concerts dubbed “This Is It.”
After Jackson’s unexpected death at 50 on June 25, concert director Kenny Ortega turned months of footage – meant for Jackson’s private library – into a two-hour concert documentary highlighting some of the best and most insightful moments of rehearsals.
What “This Is It” makes clear is that Jackson was an incredibly healthy and in-control performer. His moves were absolutely impeccable. Jackson easily, and often, outdanced his backup dancers, many of whom had to be half his age. For those who question Jackson’s brilliance as an artist, “This Is It” will surely silence them.
Stand-out moments include Jackson’s updated, re-imagined “Thriller” performance and his amazing solo dance moves during “Billie Jean.”
“This Is It” also shows Jackson falter, but those moments are rare.
It’s Jackson’s dancers and band who tie the film together. Through his interaction with them, the audience sees more of Jackson the man, rather than Jackson the artist.
His gentle but firm direction drew perfection from his crew. One great scene shows Jackson encouraging guitarist Orianthi Panagaris to show off, telling her it’s her moment to shine.
Even when Jackson performs solo, the dancers are at the edge of the stage, like kids in a candy store, enthralled with Jackson’s every move.
“This Is It” had its first showing in Tupelo at 11 p.m. Tuesday. The crowd was small – a little more than 20 in attendance – but excited, some singing along, cheering and applauding each song.
That feeling was contagious. “This Is It” proves Jackson can still make fans dance, sing and smile.
From his famous moonwalk to his groundbreaking “Thriller” video, Jackson put magic into pop music, and that same magic is in “This Is It.”
“This Is It” is rated PG and is showing at the Malco in Tupelo, Corinth Cinema 10 in Corinth, Oxford Studio Cinema in Oxford and Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal