Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. 100
    [An] extraordinary documentary, nothing at all like what I was expecting to see. Here is not a sick and drugged man forcing himself through grueling rehearsals, but a spirit embodied by music. Michael Jackson was something else.
  2. Heartbreaking, exhilarating, baffling. In other words, it expresses the performer's persona in its purest form.
  3. What this strange yet strangely beguiling film does is capture one of pop culture's great entertainers in the feverish grips of pure creativity.
  4. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    One of the best documents of live performance that I've ever seen, a rehearsal diary that's more intimate and immediate than a traditional concert film.
  5. A spectacular record of rehearsals for a show that wasn't to be.
  6. 88
    Watching his struggle is illuminating, unnerving and unforgettable.
  7. The late King of Pop delivers.
  8. Michael Jackson was obviously shooting for the moon right before his death, as you can tell from these stunning bits of concert spectacle.
  9. 80
    Watching it, I saw him from some new angles -- painful as well as celebratory -- and I realized that this isn't it: This, as with Elvis' posthumous career, is only the beginning.
  10. Reviewed by: Ann Powers
    Differing greatly from the rough, casual mood of many behind-the-scenes pop docs, this one is instead of a piece with Jackson's body of work: dazzling and strange, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew Barker
    There’s an incredible amount to enjoy here, and the star’s fans will be in rapture.
  12. He could dance brilliantly right up to the end, it’s clear.This Is It may be a court documentary, but as a heavily lawyered portrait of an artist, it’s still pretty compelling.
  13. 75
    Reveals little about the personal aspects of the deeply troubled man behind the sunglasses -- it naturally deals with none of the darker aspects of Jackson's life -- but it deftly underlines his commitment to showmanship.
  14. Michael Jackson's This Is It looks beyond the reconstructed face and spindly body of the late King of Pop and basks in his meteoric light.
  15. Reviewed by: Elysa Gardner
    If This Is It doesn't miraculously restore the middle-aged Jackson to his past glory, it at least offers glimpses of his bygone greatness, and poignant suggestions of what might have been.
  16. 75
    Watching Jackson pop, lock, rock, writhe, thrust, and clutch his crotch, even at 50 percent, leaves a feeling of woe: This show really would have been major.
  17. An up-tempo and upbeat concert documentary that celebrates, rather than mourns, the last hurrah of a pop-culture touchstone.
  18. This Is It offers a raw and endearing sketch of a genius at work.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It proves that, at the end, he was still a thriller. Fans and doubters alike can look at the gentle, driven singer-dancer at the center of this up-close document and say admiringly, This was him.
  20. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    Captures the singer, dancer, filmmaker, architect, creative genius, and great artist at work as he creates and perfects his final show.
  21. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    This Is It delivers neither the full-on Jackson stage experience or a revealing portrait of his complex mindset. Yet it does not dishonour his memory and you can’t deny the power of the music.
  22. The on-screen results are weird and watchable, by turns frustrating and entertaining, and predictably a little morbid.
  23. 58
    At best, it angrily demands to be rechristened This Is It! Too often, however, an incredulous This Is It? seems more apt.
  24. Without either the effect of a full concert spectacle, or up close and personal backstage intimacy, This Is It is neither one thing nor the other.
  25. Neither a true concert film nor a strict behind-the-scenes documentary, This Is It is, like Jackson himself, a real hybrid.
  26. Reviewed by: Douglas Perry
    If you're a big Michael Jackson fan, you'll love This Is It. If you're not, it's like watching two hours of band practice.
  27. Reviewed by: Randall Roberts
    The problem is that Ortega offers only the public Michael.
  28. Reviewed by: Zach Baron
    More bonkers Jackson-at-work moments would’ve 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 It’s few pleasures.
  29. 40
    Bottom line: the spectacle he was preparing may well have provided Jackson with the appropriate note on which to close his long, controversial career. This, however, I think even die hard fans will concur, isn't it.
  30. 25
    Neither a concert film nor a documentary but a ghoulish “event” offered just in time for Halloween, This is It is sadly -- and reprehensively, if you ask me -- the movie equivalent to the National Enquirer’s infamous post-mortem shot of Elvis Presley.
  31. Reviewed by: Aidin Vaziri
    Those who stuck with the troubled pop icon after his universe shifted from the charts to the tabloids probably will find equal measures of inspiration and heartbreak in the documentary. For everyone else, it's a strange offering.
  32. Reviewed by: Chris Richards
    For a man who so desperately wanted to show us perfection -- or at least project the illusion of it -- Jackson would never, ever want us to see this film.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 168 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 81
  2. Negative: 13 out of 81
  1. j30
    Oct 7, 2011
    A really good documentary about a true artist and professional at work. Just spectacular musician and perfectionist.
  2. Oct 23, 2010
    The film reveals more about Michael Jackson as a hard-working and meticulously attentive artist than any other insight over his lifetime, aThe film reveals more about Michael Jackson as a hard-working and meticulously attentive artist than any other insight over his lifetime, a really good film. Full Review »
  3. Oct 17, 2010
    It probably isn't the ultimate tribute to the King of Pop but it does deliever on the music and visuals. The one annoying thing is KennyIt probably isn't the ultimate tribute to the King of Pop but it does deliever on the music and visuals. The one annoying thing is Kenny Ortega always floating in the background like some foul dust and every so often coming in with an annoying comment. But, The King of Pop is still brilliant even 2 days before his death, so much life and energy with 48 hours to live. The tragedy is easily forgotten in this magical concert film where we see what we really should remember MJ by, his music. Full Review »