Within weeks of Michael Jackson's death, it was announced that footage from the rehearsals for his planned "THIS IS IT" concert tour, was being assembled for a music documentary, to be released in theaters for a short-term, special engagement. Skepticism was justified as to the fears that this would be nothing but a rush-to-make profit project, with little entertainment value. However, the music documentary, "THIS IS IT," is actually an energetic, sometimes, "fascinating," look at the entertainer, doing what he does best. Director Kenny Ortega(DIRTY DANCING)has assembled footage, around the rehearsals for the tour, and almost all of it is engaging. In addition to focusing on the star, it also provides some fascinating perspectives on the makings of such a giant production, and what goes into it, including the technology, costuming and elaborate set designs. Long-time fans will enjoy the classics featured within rehearsals for such songs as "I'll Be There," "Black or White," "Thriller" and more!
Although Jackson has always been guarded about revealing anything to the public that wasn't approved by him, the footage offered, does showcase some seemingly, authentic, candid moments, allowing this bizarre but talented artist, to appear human. The bulk of the footage is built around each song, and it's easy to get caught up in it, toe-tapping, and singing as each song unfolds. Still, to the filmmaker's credit, both the "spectacle" of the artist, the production being developed, and the de-mythologizing of the "spectacle" are all right there to take in, alongside these song rehearsals, ultimately providing a much-deserved multi-leveled approach towards this rare artist, that's fitting.
SONY has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio for this AVC MPEG-4 encoded 1080p blu-ray. Blending high-def with standard resolution, the overall image is remarkable. Colors are consistently impressive, even within footage that's decidedly darker. And, there's a lot of dark overtones to the environment. But, thankfully, deep, inky blacks, ensure impressive detail never gets swallowed up by shadow. Due to some limitations of available footage needed to make this documentary, the effect of jumping from high-def to standard resolution footage, can be jarring at times. Going from exceptional detail to dull and often multi-artifact-ridden moments of 480p footage, demonstrates the distinct quality difference between the two resolutions. However, the overall quality of the image, as rendered on blu-ray, is outstanding! Points can't be detracted, due to limitations of the available material, when all of the high-def material looks as good as it does here!
SONY has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. THIS IS REFERENCE QUALITY! While some of the source material for the video elements was inherently limited in its quality, nothing but the best here within the lossy mix! While the songs are the highlight of the presentation, and all of them sound sensational, even minor moments behind-the-scenes, with dialogue, are impressive. But, back to those music numbers,....WOW! the bass, treble, and everything in between, including some staged pyrotechnic effects, are presented with a dynamic range that is simply amazing! Without a doubt, one of the best sounding mixes, available on blu-ray, thus far!
A two-part documentary, "STAGING THE RETURN,"1080p, explores the various aspects of the production for this planned tour, including state-of-the art technology, as well as an examination of the artist, along with his last rehearsal, one day before his death.
"THRILLER VIGNETTE WITH 5.1 AUDIO," and "SMOOTH CRIMINAL VIGNETTE WITH 5.1 AUDIO," offer vignettes of the two songs, planned to introduce the actual performances of the songs on a giant video screen on stage. The other extras, include audition footage for dancers, and even more, all in 1080p!
Trailers for other SONY films and the upcoming Angelina Jolie film, "SALT" are also offered, in full 1080p!