The cynics among us will decry This Is It as a money grab, the latest step in the exploitation of dead superstars to enrich the coffers of this or that financial entity (studios, record companies, family estates, etc.). It’s a sad reality that certain performers, like Tupac and Biggie Smalls, gained iconic status and platinum earnings after their deaths to an extent that likely eclipsed their record sales while they walked among us.
Michael Jackson, though, was a different media creation altogether. Jackson, as a pop-cultural house of mirrors in his own twisted Neverland, existed as child prodigy, record-breaking space-dancing phenomenon, assumed child molester and man-child in exile.
This last label, a decade in the making, was on the verge of being expunged.
This rehearsal footage, intended for Jackson’s private archives, captures the final preparations for a series of sold-out comeback performances that sadly weren’t meant to be (and it suffers due to the lack of a satisfying ending), but this lovingly edited document serves a higher, and oddly innocent, purpose. The assembled work humanizes a performer demonized by his own misunderstood proclivities and re-elevates him to iconic status based on innate talent and sheer perfectionism. This Is It proves once and for all that Wacko Jacko was one of us, but one who also happened to be an almost pure personification of musical expression. Grade: B