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Michael Jackson’s This Is It (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 20, 2010 by  



Fantastic!  For Michael Jackson fans who love his music, “This Is It” represents Michael Jackson’s commitment, his passion and his dedication to his music, sharing his love and a message to those around him but most importantly reaching out to his fans. On Blu-ray, fans can expect beautiful visuals but most of all, spectacular lossless audio and also enjoyable and inspiring special features.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2009 The Michael Jackson Company, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

RATED: PG

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: January 26, 2010

Directed by Kenny Ortega

Produced by Paul Gongaware, Kenny Ortega, Randy Phillips

Co-Produced by Chantal Feghali

Associated Producer: Michael Bearden

3D Camera Producer: Todd Cogan

Show Associate Producer: Alif Sankey

Producer of Film and Video Content: Rob Wagner

Music by Michael Bearden

Cinematography by Sandrine Orabona, Tim Patterson

Edited by Don Brochu, Brandon Key, Timothy Patterson, Kevin Stitt

Casting by Mark Summers

Production Design by Bernt Amadeus Capra

Art Direction by William Budge

Set Decoration by Donald Elmblad

Costume Design by Michael Bush, Erin Lareau

Starring:

Michael Jackson

Kenny Ortega

Alex Al (Electric and Synth Bass)

Michael Bearden (Keyboards)

Orianthi Panagris (Lead Guitar)

Mo Pleasure (Keyboards/Trumpet)

Bashiri Johnson (Percussion)

Jonathan Moffet (Drums)

Tommy Organ (Guitar)

Vocalists: Judith Hill, Darryl Phinnessee, Ken Stacey

Dorian Holley (Vocal Director)

Dancers: Nick Bass, Daniel Celebre, Mekia Cox, Misha Gabriel, Chris Grant, Shannon Holtzapffel, Devin Jamieson, Charles Klapow, Dres Reid, Tyne Stecklein, Timor Steffens

Stacey Walker (Assistant Choreographer)

Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts at London’s O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June 2009, this film was produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his planned final London shows.

It was the concert that many people wanted to see.  The concert known as “THIS IS IT”, which would be Michael Jackson’s final curtain call at the O2 arena in London in which Michael would perform fifty concerts from July 2009 through March 2010.  All concert tickets were sold out, excitement was in the air as it was less than a month that Michael would finally perform for his fans who have waited for a live concert for over a decade.

Needless to say, because this was Michael Jackson’s final concerts, there were major plans that have never been done in a concert before.  A stage production that quite literally, has never been done before and to say the least, possibly one of the costliest concerts due to production, costume design and more.  But compared to all of his previous concerts, “THIS IS IT” was going to be Michael Jackson’s greatest concerts for his fans.

But three weeks before his concert and literally everyone was getting prepared to move out to London from Los Angeles for the final dress rehearsals, Michael Jackson died after suffering cardiac arrest.

The shows were canceled but the world mourned the death of Michael Jackson and for director Kenny Ortega and everyone involved with “THIS IS IT”, although the concert never happened, all the work that Michael and the crew put into the show from its planning stages, rehearsals and more was filmed on various cameras.

The cameras shot footage in HD and standard definition from March through June 2009 and was intended for Michael Jackson’s personal library and original content that would be featured for the show.  With the announcement of the footage going to be made to a film, Columbia Pictures paid $60 million for the rights plus the release of the album.

The film had a limited run in the theater but in its opening weekend, “Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” grossed over $23 million in the US and $252 million worldwide making the documentary the highest grossing documentary or concert movie of all time.

“Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” is quite literally the behind-the-scenes of the creation of the concert show.  From the hiring of the background dancers, to stage setup, production design, costume design, the short films that were used during the concert such as “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal”.  Jackson working with Kenny Ortega, the choreographers and musicians.

We get a good look at how Michael Jackson was during the rehearsals, how positive he was with his crew and how he cared for those around him and was very complimentary, loved to have fun but was very determined onstage.  And despite being 50 years old, Michael Jackson still shows that he was just as fluid and remarkable onstage vocally and even still maintaining his dance moves.

“THIS IS IT” shows a side of Michael Jackson that many people don’t get to see.  We know of Michael Jackson the perfectionist but this is a behind-the-scenes look at him growing from the earlier stages but giving his all and seeing how he inspired others to give their all leading up to their final preparation in Los Angeles before leaving to London.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).  It’s very important to emphasize that this was not a documentary that was planned and they had cameras for the sake of making a movie.  These are films that Michael Jackson had taped for his own personal video of the planning to the actual creation of his concerts and of course the rehearsals.

This film was put together within a few months of going through hours upon hours of raw footage and then editing the various film stock (the footage is a mix of High Definition and Standard Definition footage) from the rehearsals and other footage behind-the-scenes.

Fortunately, the majority of the footage used are from the high definition source and picture quality for those scenes are just awesome.  You get to see the detail of Michael Jackson’s clothing, the various vibrant lighting during the rehearsals including the stage effects and even closeups of Michael Jackson clean shaven to a man with stubble.  Personally, with Michael Jackson having a talented crew, the coverage featured in this film is great and to watch on Blu-ray is very impressive.

But where this film shines on Blu-ray is its lossless audio presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA.  My first impression was “Wow!”.  Granted, these are rehearsal footage but it’s one thing to hear the crystal clear dialogue through the centers and the music from the front channels but to hear sound being utilized through the surround channels and nice, clean bass thumping from the subwoofer was very cool!

You can hear Jonathan Moffet’s drums jamming while Michael Jackson starts dancing to “Billy Jean”, Orianthi Panagris jamming on the electric guitar for “Black and White” and “Beat It” along with Tommy Morgan on guitar and of course, all the musicians and vocalists played a part in this film and it’s awesome audio.   Music is just crystal clear and you can hear the nice separation at times with certain instruments on the surrounds but also hear the dancers and whoever is offstage just cheering on Michael Jackson as he’s jamming on stage to the interaction with Michale and his backup vocalists or musicians.

“It Might Get Loud” may be my favorite guitar-driven Blu-ray release for its soundtrack but “Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” just sounds fantastic.  Blu-ray fans will not be disappointed.  This is one of the better sounding musical documentaries I have seen on Blu-ray and heard via lossless yet.

As for subtitles, “Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” is featured in English, French and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” comes with the following special features presented in 1080p High Definition and audio in English 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Stereo.  Included are:

  • movieIQ – Featuring the “This Is It” Playlist and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie! Also includes an interactive playlist where you can bookmark your favorite songs featured in the film and email yourself a customized playlist! NOTE: You need a profile 2.0 Blu-ray player (that connect online) to access movieIQ.
  • Thriller Vignettes – presented in 5.1 audio – (3:50) The full new short film for “Thriller” used as a vignette for the concert which was shown on a big LCD screen and would transition to the main performance of “Thriller”.  This is a Blu-ray exclusive.
  • Smooth Criminal Vignettes – presented in 5.1 audio – (3:58) The full new short film for “Smooth Criminal” used as a vignette for the concert which was shown on a big LCD screen and would transition to the “Smooth Criminal” performance.  This is a Blu-ray exclusive.
  • Making Smooth Criminal – (11:08) Shooting the short film content for “Smooth Criminal” for “This Is It”.  How they integrated Michael into a noir film using footage from “Gilda” (starring Rita Hayworth) and another film with Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson and how it was created.  Also, showing how Michael Jackson was very involved in the production.
  • Staging the Return – (40:46) A special program on Michael Jackson planning his return to the stage.  From clips of Michael Jackson announcing his return, to behind-the-scenes footage of the creation of the concert, set design to the “Earth Song” video and interviews with director Kenny Ortega and the crew and their memories of Michael Jackson.
  • The Gloved One – (15:11) A look at the costumes created for “This Is It” featuring costume designers Michael Bush and Zaldy.  The creation of the outfits and taking them to a new level and Zaldy explains how the costumes came about including an outfit filled with crystals and a metallic studded outfit inspired by samurai uniform to the shoes and more.
  • Memories of Michael– (16:19) Director Kenny Ortega, the producers and musicians talk about their experience working with Michael Jackson and how they were all inspired by him and how he was a great friend, father and performer.
  • Auditions: Searching for the World’s Best Dancers – (9:50) A look at the auditions for the best professional dancers who would take part in Michael Jackson’s “THIS IS IT”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:30) The original theatrical trailer.

After watching “Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT”, I have to agree…this was the great concert that never happened.  I have never seen production design this incredible in my life and I have watched and reviewed many concerts from artists worldwide and have seen expensive concerts with extravagant to jaw dropping effects.  But after seeing this film and what they had planned, I don’t think anyone has come close to the amount of work that was done for “Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT”.

Aside from the awesome vocals, music and choreography that you would expect from a Michael Jackson concert, just seeing the short films that were created for the concert was impressive, the props such as a giant motorized robotic-like spider to a bulldozer coming on stage was amazing to seeing fire going around stage and even a Kevlar jacket that Michael Jackson would wear that would catch on fire.

Michael Jackson and his entire team who were working on this concert definitely set the bar higher than anyone in the world has done for their concert and that is why it was so important to have this documentary to be seen.  This was a documentary that showed a man who was involved in the entire process of the creation of the concert, immersing himself in getting prepared and ready but most of all, making sure that because this was his final curtain call, these concerts were definitely his way of going out with a bang.

The concerts may not have happened but because of what we see in this film, although the main people watching him were the crew, dancers and technicians, now the entire world has a chance to see the greatest concert that never happened.  But most of all, a chance to see the King of Pop one final time and see how much sweat tears they put into this production.

The Blu-ray release of “Michael Jackson’s  THIS IS IT” is fantastic.  A good number of special features that will make fans happy and again, this is one of the best music films/documentaries in HD for its incredible lossless audio.  Again, this was a film that was created by putting hours of footage together and editing it to make a film.  The footage was never intended to be used for a feature film or documentary.

The fact that director Kenny Ortega and crew not only had it ready for the theater, there was not one scene where I got bored, nor was there a scene which I felt could have been left out.

Overall, “Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT” is one Blu-ray release that fans of Michael Jackson and his music should own.  Absolutely fantastic and highly recommended!

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