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This Is It Review

This Is It
Deepa Garimella /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait to rent it
It's now all the more intriguing to think of what might have been. And for many all over the world, painful.

It is important that the average Michael Jackson fan watch This Is It, for the obvious reason that it is a fond memoir of stolen moments of the preparation for the final lap of his professional run.

And it is that much more important for his departed soul that the rest of the world - mostly, those to whom Jackson was little more than a bizarre freak of nature - watch it. Because the documentary is a tribute to what really mattered in all of his severely scrutinized life - his art.

This Is It, the movie, is behind-the-scenes footage of what was set to be one of the most significant events in the history of pop music - the This Is It tour, the series of 50 concerts that were going to be held at the O2 Arena in London. Over a million people were to attend the concerts in total, and the shows would generate a billion pounds for the economy.

Indeed, Michael Jackson was going to pull the British economy out of its slump, and the world was to bow its head in admiration, and in thanks. Like someone pointed out, genius is a lot of social service - it does far more good to the world than it does to someone who possesses it.

The shows were promoted as being "explosive", "dramatic", and having "incredible surprise support acts". A lot like all the drama that cloaked the actual performer that was Michael Jackson.

Condensed from over 100 hours of footage, the 2.5 hour documentary is like a 4-dimensional music experience, almost as though Jackson were giving you a personal performance of his all-time hits. Watching him "at work" during his last days, with his team, is as surreal as watching a fictional character come to life in front of you.

The film begins with emotionally overwhelmed dancers who were selected for the tour from among thousands of artistes who had auditioned, just not able to contain their gratitude to the system that was to make them stars. That so many careers were set to take off by drawing from one man's gift, makes it all the more heart-breaking to think of what was lost.

Then comes the compilation of the rehearsals, that are each more smooth-flowing than a regular glitch-filled practice session. The documentary is largely a collection of some of his best songs, interspersed with those little directorial details that usually go unfairly unacknowledged in the end product. Among the numbers that were captured are Beat It, Black Or White, Thriller, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean, Man In The Mirror, I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Earth Song, Human Nature, They Don't Really Care About Us and Jam.

The shows were also to be accompanied by music videos - Thriller was going to be resurrected on a fairly large scale, for example - and shots of these videos give the documentary a larger-than-life, cinematic feel. And there's some backstage banter as well.

The phenomenal talent gathered for the tour - both backstage technicians and support artistes - is an extravagance in itself. The concerts were going to be further sprinkled with displays of some of all that talent, like that of Orianthi the Australian guitarist. And leading from front all through, is Jackson. A man whose age (50) just doesn't match that mind-boggling footwork and that controlled tenor.

Then, there were those little indulgences - the Swarovski-encrusted costumes, the life-like sets, the complex props, the aerial specialists. They go on to show, as one member of Jackson's creative team remarks, that pushing the boundaries was what the man was all about.

When Jackson closes with the Earth Song and the curtains fall to the score of This Is It's score, it's hard not to be blown away by the magnitude of what just transpired. And we're not talking about the film.
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