The music: From the opening performance of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”, everything sounds fantastic. Hey: It is a concert, after all. Michael’s voice sounds shockingly good. Is the singing shown always from these rehearsals? Doubtful. There are times there’s no question that it’s him singing; especially when he intermittently switches from song to speaking for adjustments. Again, he sounds fantastic and his dancing is, surprisingly, as good as it has ever seemed. Other times, well… Take “Thriller” for example. Between the stage direction, costumes and singing, this was a spectacular performance. No question. Though, it might have been too spectacular; almost album cut perfect. The words didn’t always match up with Michael’s mouth. Perhaps bad editing but, more likely, enhanced music. Regardless, the crowd didn’t seem to mind.
The heartbreak: For the sadists out there, watching the wide-eyed, fresh-faced back up singers and dancers give their teary eyed “no one believed in me/chasing my dream” monologues that would make American Idol cringe, while looking forward to “getting on that stage in London,” will be fulfilling as all of their hopes and dreams are ruthlessly crushed. Now, to the non-sadists, it can be quite heartbreaking. The beginning of the film gives us an abbreviated look at the auditions. We don’t spend any time with the eventual cast offs, which is just as well since the eventual winners’ stories are sad enough considering the work they’re putting in for a show that will never happen. Plus, though the introductions are necessary, it’s not really their story (no matter how much the pre-show interviews tried to make us believe that).
The “Smooth Criminal” video: Did you really think you would see a documentary about Michael Jackson and not see a cameo by Humphrey Bogart? Yes, what sounds ludicrous is by far the highlight of the film and what would have been the show stopper of this concert. In a pre-song film, Jackson inserts himself into the 1946 classic, The Big Sleep, sharing scenes with Bogart and being shot at by Bob Steele’s Lash Canino — “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a gun before? What do you want me to do, count three like they do in the movies?” — as Jackson finally jumps through a window to escape “safely” to the stage to perform “Smooth Criminal.”
Michael Jackson’s Demeanor: This alone is worth the price of admission, alone. Most people are familiar with the circus of his life but, assuming, few were familiar with his day-to-day behavior. More is learned in This Is It’s 1:51 running time than, perhaps, in all footage or interviews complied before. There’s a calm to the man that probably only exists when he’s off camera. Or, in this case, on film that he believes will will never be shown to the public. At times, this is a guy actually in charge. Barking out changes (always, as he says, “with love”) in the musical arrangements with a leadership quality that was not known to exist. This certainly does not look like a man that will die in the next few weeks. At other times, when he’s in a different mood or mindset, he comes across as an easily distracted ten year old. Still a pleasant enough human, but a human that has to be coddled by the guidance of Ortega’s directing — which leads to the biggest laughs of the film (pre-film snoring noises and Ian Ziering sightings aside).
The crowd: Admittedly, our crowd was muzzled due to the aforementioned pre-screening problems and the large media attendance (never defined as “uproarious”) in the theater. Even so, the film won most the crowd over, even generating some applause after each performance. Having that been said: The crowd waiting for the midnight screening on the wet pavement of 42nd St… Now that’s a crowd we would have liked to party with. It can only be compared to the premiere of a Star Wars film only with no coordination and everyone comes dressed as the same character. A white glove wearing, black hat wearing, circa 1983 dancing Star Wars character. What that crowd seems to realize is that This is It could have been a sad look back on a man that died just four months ago. It’s anything but that. The mood is always, somewhat surprisingly, celebratory and those fans, the ones who dreamed of seeing Michael Jackson perform one last time… Well, they’re going to get something that’s very close.
taken from Popeater.com