Friday, October 30, 2009
Michael Jackson's This Is It
Film Title: Michael Jackson's This Is It
Director: Kenny Ortega
Running Time: 112 minutes
It has finally arrived. The film that all Michael Jackson's fans have been long awaiting for. With the tragic passing of MJ on 25 June 2009 unfortunately dropping the guillotine on what had been rumoured to be not just the best concert MJ would have EVER put out, but the best of ALL concerts PERIOD, the film "Michael Jackson's This Is It" is now looked upon to be The Next Best Thing for all MJ fans to experience the joys, thrills and exhilaration of what it WOULD have felt like to be at the concert had it been a reality - not that this film can EVER come close to the real thing. It is truly, as what the brief text introduction at the start of the film spells out, "for the fans".
The film charts the entire progress of the concert, from its dazzling entrance whereby a life-size figurine made up of footage-flashing film screens opens up to reveal the emergence of MJ onto the stage, all the way up to the end when MJ concludes the show with "Man In The Mirror" as the finale song. Along the way, the audience is treated to spectacular specially-filmed sequences of what would have been the concert's numerous background settings and vignettes! These include...
1) A green screen sequence where MJ's 11 principle dancers are multiplied by CGI into an army of infinite number of soldiers dancing to the tune of "Bad" and "They Don't Really Care About Us"
2) A black and white vignette to be played in the backdrop of the "Smooth Criminal" performance which features MJ in the 70s era dodging gangsters and machine guns
3) A sunset background illuminating the stage which has been set up as a construction site complete with MJ's principal male dancers shirtless or clad in greased-up wife-beaters backing him up while he serenades one of his babelicious female dancers with "The Way You Make Me Feel"
4) A mock up 70s soundstage, with psychedelic pastel colors, reminiscent of his Jackson 5 performance days, serves as the setting for MJ's medley of "I Want You Back", "The Love You Save", "I'll Be There" and "Shake Your Body"
5) Specially shot in 3-D technology, for the "Thriller" segment, a short film that features all MJ's principal dancers complete with zombie, vampire, ghost and other supernatural make-up and costume, accompanied by puppeteers running through the aisles hoisting ghost puppets streaming above audiences' heads, as well as the introduction of a gigantic spider robot from which MJ surfaces from its belly, is one of the most talked about highlights of the concert!
6) And finally, serving as the lead-in for "Earth Song", a video is shown where a young girl wanders through a forest, fascinated by its lush, gorgeous greenery and beautiful creatures within (such as a flurry of pretty butterflies), falls asleep, only to wake up horrified to witness the forest being destroyed by man - and at the end of the video, the bulldozer "crashes" out from the screen, only to be halted by MJ at the front of the centerstage!
The film also delves into the many mechanisms and aspects that pushes the envelope of what COULD be done in a concert that would heighten the overall concert experience. These include:
1) The "toaster" device used to "pop" out the dancers onto the stage for the "Jam" act
2) Aerialists, in glittering costumes, performed amazing acrobatic acts while suspended within dazzling metal fixtures hung above mid-air, adding a "Cirque de Soleil" feel to "Who Is It"
3) Costume designs featured a whole array of pants and gloves studded with hundreds of Swarovski crystals
4) MJ also revealed his intention to burn his jacket on stage at the end of his "Beat It" number!
Through the course of the film, it isn't hard to imagine why it was widely speculated that MJ's death could have been indirectly caused by overt stress from the preparation of this concert. His overwhelming need for perfectionism could be observed at every turn within the film with him being particular and meticulous to a fault with every single key, note, shot and movement in his direction of Kenny Ortega and the band's music (although he always does so constructively with the nicest of words). It was also heartbreaking to see how thin and haggard he appeared next to his line of muscular dancers (they must be at least twice his size and/or weight!), even though MJ proved that even with his slender built, he was more than capable of dancing circles thousand times better than any of them.
I've always been a HUGE fan of flamboyant and colorful concerts. After all, if all you get at a concert was just the artiste singing behind a mic stand, you might as well just buy the CD. So one of my criterias in deciding whether or not to buy tickets for a concert and/or buy its DVD would be how much value I'd be getting out of the dollars I'd be paying - whether or not there would be umpteen costume changes, how much the artiste had invested in the concert's settings, backdrops, vignettes, special performances, etc., and the number of all-time hits he/she would be performing for the concert. The last artiste who more than satisfied me with her concert was the fabulous Cher with her farewell concert! But now after watching this film, I have been convinced that should Michael have succeeded in making his run of this worldwide concert tour, no one else would be able to come close at having the best concert in the world.
One minor flaw about the film though is that it being originally not meant for public viewing purposes, and was supposed to be kept for MJ's private collection, therefore there were some of the times when he chose not to give it his all during his filmed performances - as he had wanted to preserve his voice and stamina for the actual show. In addition, it was a great pity that we did not get to see him dorn many of the costumes made for the concert. But all in all, the film was still well worth the wait and watch. And I'm saying that despite not even being a HUGE MJ fan to begin with.
Film-goers, take note, DO NOT leave the cinema when the credits start rolling. Stay till the end because after the credits are done, there are still some bonus footages from the "Earth Song" performance.
So what's my rating?
4 out of 5 stars
Which means? There's no other concert better than this. THIS IS IT. GO WATCH IT.