Jackson feature not a Thriller

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 November, 2011, 12:00am

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Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon begins at the end, so to speak. It opens with bodyguard Alberto Alvarez's frantic yet surprisingly courteous emergency call on that fateful day on June 25, 2009.

'Sir, we have a gentleman here that needs help. He's stopped breathing, he's not breathing and we are trying to pump him [his chest], but he's not, he's not ...'

Even today, Alvarez's words send shivers down the spine.

From that gut-wrenching opening, though, Life of an Icon descends into a repetitive cycle of what the film boasts of as more than '50 interviews' with close friends and family and 'never-before-seen family photography'.

Given that the documentary delivers only a handful of new revelations about the pop star, the seemingly endless stream of grainy, faded stills soon begins to test your patience. Unfortunately, the video resources available to producer David Gest, a long-time close friend of Jackson, seem limited to familiar news footage.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film is the list of key figures in Jackson's life who are mentioned but don't appear: his father Joe, high-profile sister Janet, former girlfriend Brooke Shields, former wife Lisa Marie Presley.

With too much time spent on the formative years of the Jackson Five, Life of an Icon is more a personal homage than an insightful documentary.