I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about going to see “This Is It,” the new Michael Jackson movie.
On my way to the theater I played M.J. classics in my car to ease the anticipation.
theater, surprisingly, wasn’t crowded. I counted about 35 people,
despite Internet reports that the movie had sold out nationwide.
opening scene showed thousands of dancers from all over the world
auditioning for a chance to go on tour with the King of Pop. In the
end, it came down to 12 principal dancers who Michael hand picked.
The scene changes, and when Michael appeared on screen, I fidgeted in my seat and tears filled my eyes.
the moment he began singing “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin,” the audience
was given a rare glimpse as the magical performer pieced together what
could have been his best concert performance ever.
seeing negative images of Michael over and over, I’d painted a picture
of him being weak and fragile. To my amazement, he was not.
could see he definitely had days where he appeared to move slower than
on other days, but he was always able to deliver a full-fledge
His voice was clear and strong, especially
during the songs, “Human Nature,” “Man in the Mirror” and “I Just Can’t
Stop Loving You.”
He was hands-on at times, and even
animated, as he coached the dancers and musicians to do exactly what he
needed them to do for each performance.
His hodgepodge style
of dress was also intriguing. For years, we’ve been trained to see the
fully made-up, costumed version of Michael, not the miss-matched,
let-me-just-throw-this-on style he showed during rehearsals. I loved
it. It made me see that even he had his days were he simply didn’t give
The filmmakers did a great job of editing video
footage from different rehearsals, enough so that it seemed to be one
performance, not hundreds of hours of video strung together.
was entertaining to see Michael unscripted. As the cameras rolled, we
witnessed what I believe was his true personality — he was a silly,
yet sensitive, perfectionist; he knew his music and melodies inside out.
his handlers talked to him in a child-like tone at times, Michael was in
control. At one point, the camera panned to one of the producers
marveling to a technician on stage about how well Michael knew his
music: You can’t fool him, the producer said. When you show up you’d
better be ready to take what he’s done and take it to another level.
If Michael had temper tantrums or stormed off stage, they didn’t show it. The footage focused on the magic of the music.
the “Beat It” performance, he was so full of energy, rolling on the
floor then laying on his back, kicking his legs in the air. The
audience laughed — we weren’t expecting that.
also cracked up during “Smooth Criminal,” when he kept telling the
band, “You gotta let it simmer,” meaning don’t rush the process. He
wanted to feel the music and be on point when he went into his next
After watching the entire creative process, I
don’t think most fans can imagine what was in store had the polished
version been performed.
There were so many songs and scenes
that were my favorites, from the intricately choreographed “They Don’t
Care About Us,” to “Smooth Criminal” and “Earth Song.” A remix of “They
Way You Make Me Feel” reminded me of a scene from the movie “Westside
Story.” The slowed-down music and the set felt nostalgic and fresh as
Michael playfully followed his temptress across the stage. One woman
was so moved that she jumped up and started dancing as she watched the
I got teary eyed again watching the Jackson Five
tribute. A huge Jackson Five logo hung behind Michael as dancers
represented his brothers. As Michael sang “I’ll be there,” we could see
that he was having a great time reminiscing; it was in his eyes. In
that moment he looked happy.
The show stopper would have been
the 3-D version of “Thriller.” The production of that number alone,
with the added features, was a spectacular. (I won’t spoil the special
With all the new versions of songs, choreography
and video, I realize after the fact that I would have mortgaged my
house to fly to London to see the final version of this concert.