Tuesday, 17 November 2009

At the Pictures: Michael Jackson's This is It

I have to admit, I've not been an MJ fan for long. I grew up in the 90s, a time MJ wasn't as dominant in as he was the decade before. More than anything, it wasn't until a few years ago that I properly got into music (I was a weird little teenager), and King-of-Pop-fandom ensued. Smooth Criminal...ohh man, I know it goes without saying, but I could listen to that all day.

Naturally, news of the King's death was a blow to me, as it was to many all over the world. Behind being the punchline of many an unfunny joke, it was a reminder to us all that MJ was a damn fine entertainer. And that's where popumentary (...?) This is It shines, showing us of the side of Mr Jackson we truly love. No below the belt blows, no derogatory "Jacko" nicknaming, just a hint at what *could* have been had those fifty concert performances gone ahead.

We're shown footage of rehearsals and of all that behind-the-scenes hoo-hah. At times, it feels like it's from the second disk of a special edition DVD set. Recitals of classic MJ songs are sung and performed, given slightly different instrumentation and pacing while remaining faithful to their original versions. If nothing else, it's a bittersweet film; this isn't a schlock band reunion where the heart isn't in it, the passion shown by everyone involved is very apparent (especially you-know-who). It's hard not to sympathise with dancers and musicians proclaiming their excitement to be performing with Michael, ultimately never to do so beyond rehearsal.

More than anything, the film is a good time. It's had detractors complaining that it whitewashes MJ's last days, making things look a little too cheery...but really, does the world need more of the man's darker times? The media's already drilled that drivel into our penetrable minds. Instead, This is It is a chin-up movie, and even if there's a little sorrow in seeing one of pop culture's icons in his last days, it's hard not to smile as he's moonwalks through each dance and each song with the attention to detail and energy that gave him his fame in the first place.

If I have any complaints, it's only that of some of my favourite songs didn't feature, and that perhaps it ran a tad long. But still, it was a good time, and...dare I say it...it was a thriller*.

8 out of 10

*I've just put you off ever reading this blog ever again haven't I?

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