In an unsurprising piece of news, director Kenny Ortega’s posthumous Michael Jackson documentary Michael Jackson’s This Is It had a sensational gross over the first five days of its release. The film became “…the highest-grossing concert film worldwide” in the five days since its release. The $101 million dollar worldwide gross pushed the film well past former record-holder Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, which pulled $70.6 million. The success of the film has compelled Sony Pictures to keep the film in theaters well past its originally-planned limited run.
Despite the film’s good reviews, I found sitting through it to be an exercise in boredom. It offered little to no insight into who the man really was; the film just redundantly cemented the fact that he was a perfectionist performer (which I think the world at large already knows).
The film’s stitched-together scenes of various rehearsal run-throughs makes for a very dull viewing experience. Granted, tapping my foot during the “Billie Jean” rehearsal scene was an almost involuntary response. MJ’s lively solo practice dance routine during that number was certainly the high point of the film, but not worth the price of admission. I didn’t really care about how they made the green-screen effects for the concert that never ended up existing. In this. you can see an example of the film’s fatal flaw – since Jackson died before the O2 concerts could be presented, the film had no climax. We were just stuck at the end saying “wow, that MIGHT have been great.”
The film had the scent of a cash-in thrown together that the studio rushed in order to capitalize on Jackson-death mania. It didn’t seem to exist to give us any kind of revelation or insight. There seemed to be a wall between camera and subject that the film rarely cracked through. The interviews with the band members are all just short MJ love-in fluff; no one actually says anything of substance.
“According to the BBC, Sony will be giving the flick an Oscar push, submitting the film to Academy Award voters for consideration in the best picture category.” A Best Picture nod? It certainly wouldn’t surprise me, given Jackson’s fame and tragic death. But based on its merits as a film, I don’t think it even deserves a nomination.
On the bright side: at least the Hannah Montana concert film has been displaced as the highest grossing concert film. I don’t think that represented the finest in cinematic concert film.