Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

DVD: Michael Jackson: This Is It (PG)

"You inspired everything in my life," eulogises one of the overwrought dancers trying frantically to get his big break on the King of Pop's brutally curtailed comeback tour.

Michael Jackson, of course, died last June, and all we – and his weepy dancers and infatuated fans – are left with is this, Kenny Ortega's oddly gripping, but sadly not sufficiently revealing feature-length documentary about Jacko's preparation for his final tour. Ortega, thankfully, omits a cloying voiceover, but his film is devoid of any sort of narrative or any moral judgements – it could safely feature on an anodyne tour of Neverland. It simply records Jackson's dance routines – there's a lot of Peter Crouch "robotics" going on here – and the maestro's gentle admonishments, all delivered out of "love" you must understand, for his technicians, musicians and back singers ("you got to let it simmer," he implores). This is all about the music, and particularly the dancing. And the songs, although sounding slightly tinny and washed-out from the lack of speaker power, sound fine and what's more the 50-year-old "Beat It" singer appears in good physical shape (apart from his ghoulish face, obviously, and his frightfully spindly frame), moonwalking endlessly, throwing dance shapes with aplomb and his voice (especially on "Human Nature") is impressive. An odd but compelling testament.

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