Many, many times. More bonkers Jackson-at-work moments wouldve helped, but mostly we just see the kid from Gary, Indiana, dispensing hugs and God-bless-you's to an awed cast and crew. Watching various dancers and guitarists grin irrepressibly during their one-on-one run-throughs with the man is one of This Is Its few pleasures; ditto for Jacksons dancing, which is constant and never less than unreal, even when hes just imitating the gestures stewardesses make in the aisles of a plane. As for his voice, well, mostly hes conserving itlest we forget, this show was to be repeated in front of a live audience 50 different times at Londons O2 arena over a nine-month period. Were Jackson still aliveastonishingly, the film never alludes to his death until the requisite dedication at the end, though the teary and fragile vibe throughout seems to correctly presume a certain level of audience familiarity with the fact that Mikes no longer aroundhed be about halfway through.
It would have been a spectacle. The film rescues a couple of quintessentially MJ set-pieces first designed as concert interstitials, in which Jackson gamely has himself CGId into first Gilda and then The Big Sleepweirdly, he never seems more real than he does acting in digitally effected black-and-white. Less palatable is the rehearsal teams decision to remake for the concert screen John Landiss Thriller video in 3-D (?!!), sans Vincent Price but plus the spider from Lord of the Rings. For this, I blame director Ortega, originally Jacksons creative partner on the tour, who here badly overreaches his yes-man, set-therapist, pyro-encouraging roleas he does in so many other places in this film and earlier, on the setonly to find himself lost in his own funhouse. Gravedigger! he shouts at one point, trying to get some poor zombie to correctly hit his mark. Into the camera!