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Michael Jackson’s This Is It (DVD Review)

25 Jan, 2010 By: Mike Clark

This Is It

Street 1/26/10
Sony Pictures
Box Office $72.1 million
$28.96 DVD; $39.95 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for some suggestive choreography and scary images.

When producers say they’re going to put out a feature-length movie of rehearsal footage, it’s typical to expect something modest or even little raw — like, say, a D.H. Pennebaker assemblage along the lines of Monterey Pop.

But, no, this is not just rehearsal footage, but a Michael Jackson deep-pockets enterprise as well. That means the 120 hours of raw footage whittled down to just under two hours here boasts a production budget befitting a subject who kept stocking that Neverland menagerie with fresh storks, pterodactyls and whatever.

Jackson is shown to be polite yet intense working with the singers and dancers who’d have been his backup in last summer’s death-aborted concert tour — a performer in full command of knowing what he wanted, with maybe 75% of his former ability to put it over on stage (which still gives him a huge edge over how Elvis was at the end).

To put the artistic hype in pop-historical perspective, remember that Frank Sinatra released a bonafide landmark album (September of My Years) when he was 50. Yet, Jackson’s surprising ninth-inning performance potency was and is an uambiguous revelation — enough to justify this posthumous theatrical release’s box office performance.

What’s more, some of the performance footage here needs no qualification: The “Way You Make Me Feel” number made me feel pretty spry.

The DVD includes several behind-the-scenes documentaries, and the Blu-ray adds lots more, including interactive features.

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