As I watched Michael Jackson's This Is It, I found myself wondering exactly what I was supposed to be reviewing. It's nearly impossible to separate the context of the film from the film itself -- that it was supposedly never meant to be a documentary and is only now being seen by public eyes because of Michael Jackson's death in June as he was preparing for his last tour. And, as difficult as it is, I'm obviously not reviewing the person himself. Was I reviewing his performances? That's not it, either, because they're rehearsals and Jackson was saving his voice and strength for the tour. The documentary itself is a strange, confusing look into Michael Jackson's world, or at least the version of it that his friends, family, and/or estate wanted us to see.
Producer Randy Phillips is quoted in the production notes as follows: "What makes this footage so compelling is that Michael is so open and unguarded. From March 5 when we did the press conference [announcing Jackson's tour] to June 25 when Michael died – we had a three-person crew with HD cameras." The production notes also say they shot "more than 100 hours of rehearsal footage shot in Los Angeles." Why were three people shooting with HD cameras, producing over 100 hours of footage that "was never intended for wide release"? And if it was eventually going to be part of a behind-the-scenes doc, then why did it often look blurry or shaky, and why, if there was so much more footage to choose from, are we seeing rehearsals that seemed to be from a handful of different days, judging by the different clothes Jackson wore?