During its theatrical run, Michael Jackson's This Is It served as a sort of worldwide public memorial for the late superstar. Audiences were comprised of everyone from hardcore fans to those who hadn't paid Jackson much attention in many years. Seeing the documentary on the big screen was an event. The experience was made all the more captivating by not knowing exactly what would be seen. Everyone knew Jackson was to perform 50 shows at London's O2 arena. The question was whether or not he was truly fit to perform after such a long absence from the stage.
Revisiting This Is It on Blu-ray can't help but be something of a minor letdown by comparison to the theatrical viewing. Knowing what to expect means seeing the film for exactly what it is: a skeletal outline of what probably would've been a fantastic show. The film is far from the usual slickly produced concert films commonly released by major stars. There are no screaming fans. The only spectators were people directly involved with the production. None of it was intended for public exhibition. This is fly-on-the-wall footage of Michael Jackson honing his stage chops.
There was some minor controversy swirling around the film during the weeks before its release. After Jackson's death, it was quickly announced that private video footage of the rehearsals would be edited into a feature. Jackson's own father was insisting that most of the footage featured body doubles rather than his son. That may very well have been true during some of the long preparation that stretched for months before the late rehearsals we glimpse in This Is It. Clearly what we see in the film is all Jackson. Yet the press reported the elder Jackson's diss repeatedly.
Adding to the skepticism was a group of severely misguided "fans" who tried to organize a boycott based on their presumptions that the film wasn't accurately representing Jackson's skills. Their concern was that the film would present Jackson in a far more robust light than he actually was. On-set rumors of Jackson being disoriented, forgetting lyrics, and being too weak to dance had circulated for weeks. This particular group of fans believed This Is It would be dishonest to omit such material (if it in fact even existed).