Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Michael Jackson's This Is It Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 39.4 GB
Film Size: 23.3 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

Michael Jackson’s This Is It comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. This Is It was put together with many different sources of footage, the majority from high-def cameras but also a lot from low-end standard definition cameras.

High-def moments take up the entire screen, while standard-def moments are letterboxed typically in the very center of the screen, and the quality difference is extremely drastic. I watched the film on a high-def projector setup and I thought it was a great idea that they letterboxed the standard-def footage as the quality definitely is lacking.

The high-def moments are always beautiful and easy to appreciate, especially when they are mixed with the standard-def moments. Don’t be worried, the transitions between high-def and standard-def are not annoying, it’s all well placed and it actually makes you appreciate being able to see the movie in high-definition that much more.

Detail is never super sharp but the upgrade in clarity is, everything pops and features a great amount of depth. At times we can get a good sense of fine details, particularly textures of clothing and sets, but never the quality to be able to notice skin blemishes and count hairs.

Colors on the high-def release are rich, vibrant and pop whenever they are given the opportunity to. Black levels are also extremely satisfying, there was never a moment where they fell apart or suffered. This Is It is a high-def treat, it’s not the very best high-def footage, but we are talking rehearsal footage here.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has provided a top notch encode that will impress any viewer. The limitations come with the source and not the Blu-ray transfer. If you want to watch Michael Jackson’s This Is It in the best quality available, this is it. 9/10.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for Michael Jackson’s This Is It and sounds very good. I have to say I wasn’t completely sure what to expect audio-wise, as Michael did not always use his full vocal ability for these rehearsals, which is to be expected.

What I can say is that this track is actually quite aggressive and satisfying, but mind-blowing would be a bit of an exaggeration. Everything is presented about as clear as one could expect, the most impressive thing about the mix is the clarity of the music itself. Dialogue is also generally very clear and features that upgrade in quality that is always expected with lossless audio.

The mix is also quite exciting, the mix is definitely more front-heavy, but the effects in the music are well-placed and it really makes the presentation come alive. The mix will never knock you out of your seat, but for rehearsal footage, I could not have expected much better to be honest.

Had this been actual full-fledged performances, I definitely would have been disappointed at times by the mix. It’s not the amazing quality that we come to expect with the typical concert Blu-ray release as the source itself is just not up to that level unfortunately.

To be honest though, I can’t imagine This Is It sounding much better unless they expand surround sound use a bit more. Aside from a few minor issues it doesn’t get any better as far as clarity and power goes. I’m definitely pleased and quite impressed and I’m sure you will be as well. 9/10.


MovieIQ (In-Movie BD-Live)
If you have a BD-Live enabled/connected Blu-ray player, you can play the movie with MovieIQ, which includes the “This Is It” playlist.

Thriller Vignette with 5.1 Audio (3:52) (HD)
This was to be shown on the giant LCD screen as a prelude to the live performance. This is presented with a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track.

Smooth Criminal Vignette with 5.1 Audio (3:57) (HD)
This was to be shown on the giant LCD screen before the live performance of “Smooth Criminal.” This is presented with a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track.

Making Smooth Criminal (11:09) (HD)
The crew talks about how they all got involved in the making of “Smooth Criminal.” Kenny Ortega talks about Michael’s idea to refresh Smooth Criminal but still be true to the original. I absolutely loved this featurette, providing lots of behind-the-scenes footage.

Staging the Return (40:47) (HD)
‘The Adventure Begins’ and ‘Beyond the Show.’ The crew talks about Michael Jackson’s return to performing. This is an extremely extensive behind-the-scenes look at Michael’s return, the stories are absolutely great and any fan will love this.

The Gloved One (15:14) (HD)
Costume Designer Zaldy talks about creating costumes for Michael Jackson’s tour specifically for Michael. He shows off sketches and prototype and final versions of costumes planned.

Memories of Michael (16:20) (HD)
The crew remembers Michael Jackson in a very touching feature. They all share their stories meeting and working with him.

Auditions: Searching For the World’s Best Dancers (9:50) (HD)
Get a deeper look at the dance audition process, everyone there is extremely talented, see how they narrowed it down to such a small number. This is a very cool feature, with a few notable faces from previous Kenny Ortega productions such as High School Musical 1-3.

Theatrical Trailer (2:32) (HD)

Previews (HD)

BD-Live Portal (Currently unavailable)
Download the latest trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures theatrical and Blu-ray releases.

Extras on this release are very satisfying, there is definitely plenty to see, and it's all presented in beautiful high-definition. I loved the featurettes, they are all very informative and feature a great amount of behind-the-scenes footage. 8.5/10.

Blu-news Summary
The past year was a shocking one; we lost one of the greatest performers of all time, the one and only Michael Jackson. The man was an icon to those all around the world, his music inspired and touched so many, and still does to this very day.

I understand not everyone likes Michael Jackson, but there is no denying his impact. Michael Jackson has had his extreme share of bad publicity the last 15 years of his life, but we was planning a major return to music and performing with This Is It.

This Is It was a series of planned sold-out concerts at London’s O2 Arena. Everyone was anxious to see if those concerts would actually happen, many doubting and many with strong excitement. Unfortunately Michael Jackson did not end up performing there as his life came to a shocking end on June 25th, 2009.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It went from a series of planned concerts to a rehearsal concert film directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega. Having worked with Kenny Ortega two years ago, I definitely got to see what a perfectionist he is. He likes to get things done, but he’s never rude or gets upset. He’s just filled with such great energy and positive vibes, it’s no surprise he would become choreographer for This Is It.

This Is It is features footage shot from April to June 2009, really documenting everything about production of the concert. This Is It is not just about the performances, it’s everything that went on behind-the-scenes.

There were new vignettes shot specifically for This Is It, including Thriller and Smooth Criminal. We see how everything was filmed and how they shot the 3D Thriller. We see the dancers in the casting process, we see technical issues that arise, and we really get to see just how much Michael Jackson was involved.

Michael was there for everything; whether it be casting or filming sequences that did not even feature him directly. He wanted a say in every creative process, he had a clear vision for everything and he wanted everything done a certain way. It was clear from beginning to end he was putting his all into these planned concerts.

We also get to see the final performances from the King of Pop. Whether you are a fan or not, you have to admit the man has such a talent when it comes to performing. His music and dancing make you want to dance and sing-along with him. We get to see him in many stages of rehearsal, whether it is casual or dress rehearsals.

It’s almost insane to think that a man of his age still has so much energy. His dancing is still so great and his movements are quick and smooth. His vocals are also quite impressive, featuring great range and everything looks like it still comes natural to him.

This film is beautiful in every way and will leave any Michael Jackson fan in awe. This Is It really does a great job at showing so many levels of production and we get a better realization at what a talent Michael Jackson was.

Michael Jackson may be dead, but his legend will never be dead. He’s left such an impact on this Earth with his music and his message. If a Michael Jackson song comes on, I always have to listen to it, it just shows how great his music holds up and will hold up for future generations. If there is anything that could bring peace on Earth, it’s Michael Jackson’s music. I loved Michael Jackson's This Is It theatrically and I love it even more on Blu-ray. 10/10.

The Blu-ray release is great, featuring strong video and audio presentations. Extras are also very satisfying and actually quite extensive. The Blu-ray release is a ‘Must Own’ for any Michael Jackson fan and ‘Highly Recommended' to all others.

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