All of that, combined with what some perceived as excessive coverage of the late artist's life and death, left a certain number of potential viewers very cynical. What really counts, of course, is what we actually see in the finished film. Jackson is clearly in command of his talents as he sings, dances, and directs his band with authority. This footage, it bears repeating, is far from the finished product. By his own admission, Jackson was holding back in order to conserve his voice and physical strength for the actual shows. But when he cuts loose at the end of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," trading vocal licks with backing vocalist Judith Hill, his voice is as distinctive as ever.
The show would've been a dazzling, effects-laden spectacle. What's even more impressive though is the level of musicianship assembled. Jackson could've gotten away, as so many artists do, with an over-reliance on prerecorded backing tracks and samples. But for the most part, it seems that the tight band was going to carry the weight of recreating his hits the old fashioned way. Australian guitarist Orianthi Panagaris makes an especially noteworthy contribution, with her solo on "Black Or White" being a highlight.
The Blu-ray disc is extraordinary on a technical level. It's hard to believe this footage was intended for private use only, as it looks so good. Footage was culled from more than one source, and the standard definition segments do stick out like a sore thumb. It is, after all, a documentary so not every situation provided ideal lighting. Naturally there wasn't an opportunity for reshoots. Fortunately, the lion's share of the documentary consists of high definition footage which looks crystal clear. Colors are vividly reproduced and the blacks are uniformly solid. In the high definition footage, I detected no artifacts at all. The level of visual detail is breathtaking at times. The filmed sequences for "Smooth Criminal" and "Thriller" are equally impressive.
The DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio soundtrack is outstanding. Again, the very nature of documentaries means that conversations cannot be looped in post-production. Some scenes featuring Jackson talking with various production members are subtitled because the audio isn't always optimal. This in no way reflects poorly upon the Blu-ray presentation. The music is what really needs to be heard in surround sound, and the disc lives up to expectations. The band sounds full and powerful. The subwoofer gets a workout as it cranks out throbbing bass. The rear speakers are well utilized for crowd noise (what little there is) and various effects. Jackson's vocals are mostly clear and centered, though on most numbers he was holding back rather than singing at full strength. This results in some reserved, almost muffled, vocals - but again, that's not a fault of the mix. The backing vocalists and various instruments are never distorted. They burst forth vigorously, mainly from the right and left front channels.