Perhaps more aptly titled than I first thought, "This Is It" is probably not a release MJ would have approved had he lived but it is fascinating and enjoyable nonetheless. For a fan, it's a must see. I'm not sure viewers more casual in their MJ interest would appreciate it as much.
Let me start by saying what the movie is not - It's not a polished performance by any stretch. The songs are frequently stopped for revision and there are many times when he lays off the vocals to save his voice. Nor is it a "full dress rehearsal" as I'd read previously. No one is in stage costume and the only glimpse we get of MJ's stunning costume for "Billie Jean" is on the tailor's table. Still, even "street clothes" for MJ are slightly brilliant - it's not as if he's in sweatpants and t-shirt.
What the movie does offer is a chance to see MJ at work which is truly thrilling. He has an extremely detailed vision of precisely how the finished production will look and sound. Watching him work toward making this vision a reality is captivating. If you never appreciated the genius of MJ before, this movie makes it clear.
The main event of course is MJ's singing and dancing. Despite his extremely thin appearance, and contrary to rumors that he was a shell of his former self, his singing and dancing are total A-game. His voice sounds as good as ever and as I expected, he had reinvented himself in dance once again, with a style appropriate for a 50 year old man. There are fewer dramatic spins and throwing himself to his knees but more fancy footwork and he's absolutely no less amazing to watch than at any time past. There is no doubt, despite the jaw-dropping performances given by his dancers (who are half his age), MJ is the King.
In the end, seeing how vital and brilliant he was in the days leading up to his death, I couldn't help but feel an extra bit of sadness that he's gone. Had he appeared weak or half-hearted in any way, it might have made his death a bit easier to understand. But clearly, had he not surrounded himself with corrupt doctors and yes-men who ultimately yessed him to death, MJ would have been able to realize his vision, execute his scheduled performances and carry on with his family life for a good long time. But now, well - this is it.
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