Vail Valley movies: Michael Jackson film shows singer’s talent
Vail Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –It’s too bad how sometimes people have to die before the world truly realizes how great they were.
Not to ignore the fact that zillions of people already loved Michael Jackson. Millions of fans have worshipped him for decades – and ironically, a large number of them are boycotting “This Is It.”
“This Is It” is a documentary of rehearsals leading up to Jackson’s 50-venue, sold-out tour that would have commenced last summer had he not suddenly dropped dead of cardiac arrest on June 25. “This Is It” was the name of the tour and also of Jackson’s new single and album (both released last month). The film was directed by Kenny Ortega, who was not only the director/choreographer of the upcoming tour, but also directed/choreographed Jackson’s previous two tours (the most recent of which was 1997) and his memorial service.
Though the film is literally just footage of rehearsals with no insight into Jackson’s off-stage life, it is very apparent that Ortega and the rest of Jackson’s staff regarded him with pure awe and adoration. And for good reason. The focus and sheer heart that Jackson put into every single detail of his performance – from each guitar riff to each flash of stage lights – was unreal. “This Is It” unveils Jackson’s genius. Yes, you see that the guy was a bit eccentric, shaking his head intensely when he was upset or unsatisfied with the way something was slightly off from what he envisioned, but speaking to his band mates and colleagues in a very soft and articulate fashion until they got it right. You have to wonder if Ortega cut out any parts where Jackson completely lost it, but that’s not what the film’s about. “This Is It” is exactly it. “It” is Michael Jackson … one of the greatest performers in human history. Every scene absolutely reinforces this reality. From his utter intensity in rehearsal, as if he were on stage in front of 2 million people rather than practicing in front of 18 members of his crew, to the testimonials of that crew, beginning with the dancers selected from a swarm of hundreds to appear on stage with him. They could barely speak through their tears of joy and gratitude. Even his colleagues who admitted he was a perfectionist regarded that character trait as a necessary ingredient to his brilliance.
You really see that Jackson knew every tiny nuance of everything the audience was seeing and hearing. His multi-million dollar performance of pyrotechnics, robotic stage props and amazingly talented musicians and dancers was his intricate personal masterpiece. Sure, you see how he can barely smile through the chiseled rock of his jaw, mouth and nose, and you may think it’s kind of sad that he went and messed up his face, but after watching “This Is It,” even if you’ve never particularly been a huge fan, there’s no denying that Michael Jackson was an incredible artist and performer.
You walk away thinking it would have been totally worth it to drop $300 on a chance to see this show live and it’s just too bad that he’s not around anymore. But maybe you wouldn’t even go see this film if he were still alive.
As for Jackson’s fans boycotting the film, they’ve built a Web site entitled “This is NOT it.” The entire protest is based around a belief that the film veils the fact that Jackson was in failing health. True, you don’t see any of this in the film. Instead, you will find yourself incredulous at how 50-year-old Jackson appeared so lithe and energetic, strutting around the stage like a 20-year-old. This Is NOT It claims the film disguises the reality that Jackson was actually “groggy and confused,” forgetting lyrics and feeling pressured about the 50-venue tour schedule that was originally only supposed to be 10.
Even if all of this is true, “This Is It” is a respectful portrayal of Jackson’s creativity and brilliance. And, beyond all of the child abuse allegations, skin conditions, plastic surgeries and even failing health … isn’t his talent what we want to remember him for?
The one unquestionable gimmick of the film is that it’s supposedly only going to be in theaters for two weeks. We’re a ways into that window, so you’d better hustle on out to see it.