Spliced together from footage of Michael Jackson’s final concert rehearsals before his death, This Is It is expected to take in $400 million during its limited two-week run. Some Jackson fans are complaining that the film is a distasteful and morbid cash grab by Jackson’s family and Sony, and that Jackson would have been horrified at his portrayal in the film. Does This Is It exploit Michael or immortalize him?
The film is ghoulish: This “morbid patch job” of a film, says Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, only serves to help Jackson’s family and “longtime enablers” at Sony “cash in” on the singer’s death. We can be “confident that a perfectionist like Jackson would never want to be remembered by a shoddy piece of exploitation like This Is It.”
It’s a respectful final tribute: “This Is It is not in any way ghoulish,” says Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. The singer looks healthy in the film, so there’s no temptation to scrutinize him for telltale signs of an impending death. “As the last set of images we’ll ever have of Michael Jackson, This Is It offers a raw and endearing sketch of a genius at work.”
“Michael Jackson’s This Is It”
The movie’s success just gold-plates his legacy: The audience enjoys the privilege of seeing a perfectionist at work, says Richard Corliss in Time. And ultimately, the film will only add to Jackson’s legend. “For a modern entertainer who dies before his time, immortality is measured in residuals.” So if This Is It does well at the box office, “the movie does earn him a redemptive legacy.”
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