The buzz about This is It is not hype: the movie capturing Michael Jackson rehearsing for his comeback concert tour is as phenomenal as you’ve heard it is, a fitting posthumous tribute to the incomparable talents of the late King of Pop. Taken from more than 100 hours of footage from the rehearsals and behind-the-scenes preparations for a massive production that was to mark Jackson’s return to the stage after a 10-year hiatus, the film also gives a glimpse of Jackson the perfectionist, the person, and a man concerned about the planet.
The 50 sold-out London shows would have included Jackson blockbusters like Billie Jean, Bad, Thriller, Man in the Mirror and the Jackson 5 hits I Want You Back, The Love You Save, and I’ll Be There, but also the less familiar Earth Song from HIStory and Heal the World, reflecting what director-producer Kenny Ortega calls Jackson’s “deep concerns about the health and future of our planet — he felt the messages in his songs were more important than ever.”
Jackson’s co-choreographer Travis Payne believes the singer wanted to use the performances “as a vehicle to continue to convey the messages in his music and visuals: the condition of the planet and how, as humanity, we’ve lost sight of so many things that are important to survive,” and the filmed piece created for Earth Song -- which, like numerous other specially shot segments, would have played onscreen during the performances -- articulates it beautifully.
Having opened Tuesday at midnight, This is It is already a box office hit. Demand for tickets is high, a fact that might extend its theatrical release beyond the designated two weeks. In any case, it’s worth seeing on the big screen.