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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


This Is It [Blu-ray]


(Kenny Ortega, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures

Video: Sony Picture Home Video



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:18.672 

Disc Size: 42,334,541,174 bytes

Feature Size: 25,053,929,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.09 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case with cardboard slipcase

Release date: January 26th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 4303 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4303 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), English, French, none



• movieIQ featuring the "This Is It" Playlist and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
Thriller Vignette (3:51 in HD!)
Smooth Criminal Vignette (3:58 in HD!)
Making Smooth Criminal Featurette (11:08 in HD!)
Staging the Return - Two-part Making of Documentary (40:46 in HD!)
The Gloved One Featurette: Costumes (15:13 in HD!)
Memories of Michael Featurette (16;19 in HD!)
Auditions: Searching for the World's Best Dancers featurette (9:50 in HD!)

• Theatrical trailer (2:31 in HD!)

• 8 Previews (The disc starts with one; 'Grown Ups')





Description: Michael Jackson's This Is It will offer Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this summer in London's O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June 2009, the film is produced with the full support of the Estate of Michael Jackson and drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of his songs for the show. Audiences will be given a privileged and private look at Jackson as he has never been seen before. In raw and candid detail, Michael Jackson's This Is It captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his final show. Directed by Kenny Ortega, who was both Michael Jackson's creative partner and the director of the stage show.



The Film:

"This Is it," Michael Jackson told his fans in London, announcing his forthcoming concert tour. "This is the final curtain call." The curtain fell sooner than expected. What is left is this extraordinary documentary, nothing at all like what I was expecting to see. Here is not a sick and drugged man forcing himself through grueling rehearsals, but a spirit embodied by music. Michael Jackson was something else.

The film has been assembled from rehearsals from April through June 2009 for a concert tour scheduled for this summer. The footage was "captured by a few cameras," an opening screen tells us, but they were professional high-def cameras and the sound track is full-range stereo. The result is one of the most revealing music documentaries I've seen.


And it's more than that. It's a portrait of Michael Jackson that belies all the rumors that he would have been too weak to tour. That shows not the slightest trace of a spoiled prima donna. That benefits from the limited number of cameras by allowing us to experience his work in something closer to realistic time, instead of fracturing it into quick cuts. That provides both a good idea of what the final concert would have looked like, and a portrait of the artist at work.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Image appearance on the Blu-ray of This Is It is pretty solid. It is dual-layered with a decent bitrate. It's a kind of makeshift documentary culled from over 80 hours of rehearsal preparation (different cameras), and other, footage so there are varying degrees of visual quality from the grainy (vintage) to the glossy (HD CAM) - and with fluctuating aspect ratios - 1.33 to 1.78. It's never as pristine as a more co-ordinated fictional feature film effort - but it is not pretending to be. There is some SD footage that is picture-boxed but there are enough seamless quick cuts to actually make it exemplify the 1080P action. And speaking of 'action' - there is hardly any stillness - the, mostly hand-held, camera can be as kinetic as Jackson himself who is constantly moving either subtly (waving, popping) to the rehearsal rhythms or dancing and singing demonstratively - fine tuning his moves for the tour that would never take place. This is a very well done documentary - you never get bored what what you are seeing. At approaching 2-hours I'm sure it still short-changes the complete story 'behind the scenes' of this huge-scale comeback preparation. For most of the transfer was directly rendered from the HD from which the footage was shot - and it shows with some weakness for infrequent glare. But generally this can be very impressive in appearance. Colors seem far brighter and truer than SD could relate. Detail can be of HDCAM's high caliber and the image is very smooth - showing some depth but never any real textures as actual 'film' would produce. This Blu-ray does it's job very well, looking precisely the way it would have theatrically - Sony have produced a strong transfer.











From the 'Smooth Criminal' sequence you get Rita Hayworth, Bogie, Edward G. and Gloria Grahame in 1080P!














Audio :

This is the biggest attribute. Probably more important for than the video, for many, is the audio track and the DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a whopping 4303 kbps produces some exceptionally clean and crisp music. Wow - it had a resonance very much like a concert. I confess I was constantly looking to see if I could detect lip-syncing as the audio was often so clean and tight. I found none. The 'Thriller' sequences sounded and looked especially good. I'm no expert of Jackson's music but this definitely sounded more robust and crisper than I have ever heard on CD or the radio. It is more 'live' sounding than studio mixed. There are optional subtitles and some forced English ones when the music or activity was so loud we can't really make out Michael's dialogue. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc so I am unsure of the quality in region 'B'.


NOTE: My Momistu player produced some unusual static while playing the first 6-7 minutes but my Oppo handled it without problem. I'm still investigating why this occurred but it may be a unique connection issue.



Extras :

Before playing This Is It you get to choose if you want movieIQ mode which features the "This Is It" Playlist and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie (not accessible at the time of this review). All seven featurettes appear to be in HD. We get two vignettes - one each for 'Thriller' and 'Smooth Criminal' - both running just shy of 4-minutes. Making Smooth Criminal runs for 11-minutes focusing on the creation of that content. There is The Gloved One featurette on costumes for 15-minutes and a similarly length for Memories of Michael. The biggest supplements is the "Staging the Return - Two-part Making of Documentary" running for 3/4 of an hour with input from many people who were involved with preparations for the concert including Kenny Ortega. I enjoyed the Auditions: Searching for the World's Best Dancers featurette with 10-minutes on all the dedicated dancers who look so amazing when choreographed together onstage. There is a theatrical trailer and 8 previews (the disc starts with only one; 'Grown Ups' before entering the menu).



As Michael Jackson describes at the Press Conference in London - 'this is for the fans'. He was talking about the song selections for the upcoming concert but prophetically it can relate directly to this Blu-ray. Personally, I suspect This Is It shows an accurate side to Jackson that many are curious about. He never loses his temper during the rehearsals - he is totally professional, showing a few respectful concerns and above all he is an entertainer often appearing quite shy outside that persona. Aside from everything you could every say about him - he remains one of the most interesting celebrities of the past 50 years. And his fan base is gigantic even down to the teary-eyed dancers who were emotional at simply the prospect of performing on the same stage as him. I think this documentary can extend outside that fan-base though. This is a great Blu-ray to play if you are starting a party for both the music/dancing/singing performances and the curiosity surrounding Jackson's eccentric life. There is a lot of value here - and definitely worth indulging for many reasons beyond the obvious. Yes - we must recommend. 

Gary Tooze

January 16th, 2010




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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