Michael Jackson-Moonwalker (1988)

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Released 2-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 88:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Jerry Kramer
Jim Blashfield
Colin Chilvers
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Michael Jackson
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Bruce Broughton
Ladysmith Black Mambazo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Romanian
Russian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Sadly, when Michael Jackson sang he was "Bad", no one took him seriously. Anyway, long before we had heard of "Jesus Juice", Michael Jackson's television appearances were related to his extraordinary pop music career. Moonwalker is a self-indulgent piece of fluff from MJ's hey-day. A rather bizarre collection of music videos bookending a nonsensical and stupid story, Moonwalker offers a glimpse into the mind of one of the most famous and quirky humans to  walk our planet this century.

    As I wrote in my review of MJ's Dangerous Short Films, Michael  Jackson has spent most of his life in the spotlight. His showbiz career began at the age of four as the frontman for the Jackson Five. He later left the successful group to pursue a solo career. As an adult, Jackson released the very successful album Off The Wall (produced by the great Quincy Jones). Jackson and Jones followed its unexpected success in 1982 with Thriller, which remains one of the most popular albums of all time. The album contained a swag of hit singles, and each was accompanied by a high-quality promotional music video.

    One of the songs, Billie Jean, had a music video which portrayed Jackson as an amazing dancer, and a strange person who is not from (or part) of our world. This theme has recurred through his follow-up music videos, and later helped shape his image in the media, where he began to be seen as a sweet and sensitive but painfully shy crotch-grabbing child-like recluse.

    Following the staggering commercial and critical success (7 Grammies) of Thriller, Jackson achieved mythical status as a pop performer. Bizarre stories about his personal life flooded the tabloid and later the mainstream press. Keeping to himself, Jackson again teamed up with Jones, and songwriter Teddy Riley to produce a new album, Bad, in 1987. Again the album contained a few hit singles which were all accompanied by great promotional music videos, including the title track's video which was directed by one of my favourite directors, Martin Scorsese. The stories about Jackson became even more weird, and he lay low for a while. Meanwhile, the album Dangerous was released in 1991.

    Later, Jackson was to 'break his silence' and make startling revelations to Oprah on international television, admit to a drug addiction, be accused of paedophilia (and have his home raided by the police), marry Elvis' daughter, and produce three more albums (and two children with another women). But that's another story . . .

    Moonwalker opens with MJ's gospel flavoured tome to world peace, Man In The Mirror. It's a music video assembled from concert and news footage, and features plenty of screaming and adoring fans. We then get treated to the ebullient, bubblegum brilliance of the Jackson 5 and some of MJ's early years. Through a montage of concert, television, and music video clips, we can see the ever-evolving face (and colour) of MJ over the years. We then get a version of the Bad music video, acted out by kids. This is followed by a lengthy chase sequence, featuring a lot of claymation, which leads into the music video for Speed Demon. The music videos end with MJ's swipe at the media in Leave Me Alone.

    Finally, over 30 minutes into the 'movie', the story starts, described as "a wild adventure film written by Michael Jackson himself, allowing a rare and unique glimpse into the creative mind of this musical genius". Here, Michael (Michael Jackson) is an alien/spaceship who visits Earth. Michael befriends children, and there are plenty of scenes with him playing happily with the kids (Sean Lennon, Kellie Parker, and Brandon Adams). But soon Michael must become their protector, as he battles a cruel drug dealer, Mr. Big (Joe Pesci). The only redeeming feature in this nonsensical mish-mash is the awesome song and dance sequence, which became the music video for Smooth Criminal. This is MJ at his very best. With wonderful art direction, lighting, choreography, and dancing, this Guys and Dolls inspired piece almost (almost) makes the "wild adventure film" worth watching.

    One parting thought about the "wild adventure film" is that I was surprised at how violent it was. We see children being attacked with syringes, violent shooting scenes with automatic weapons, and knife attacks. The Gloved One's movie is not very family friendly.

    Once the crazy (and very violent) story is over, we have the music video for Come Together. This is followed by one of the longest credit sequences I can remember. It runs for almost eight minutes.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering the age of the source material, I was quite pleased with the quality of the transfer.

    Sadly, the transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. From the look of some of the scenes, I'm guessing it's pan & scan. I'm not sure what the original aspect ratio would have been, but I'm assuming this was screened in cinemas in a widescreen ratio.

    The sharpness is a little variable, but overall it is quite good. The black level and shadow detail are both good. Obviously during the concert footage, the shadow detail is adversely affected by concert lighting.

    The colour is excellent throughout, such as the scene in the garden with flowers at 38:10.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts, such as a break up in the picture, but some scenes, such as at 43:38 do exhibit some pixelization.

    There were no problems with film-to-video artefacts.

    Film artefacts appear frequently throughout, and while most are small, some are quite large, such as the large black blotch that appears at 29:39.

    English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russian, English for the Hearing Impaired, and Italian for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present on this single-sided, single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three Dolby Digital Stereo audio tracks on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine on the default English audio track.

    The musical score is obviously dominated by pop tunes provided by Michael Jackson, but there is also some orchestral music provided by Bruce Broughton.

    As a stereo track, there is no surround presence or LFE activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is one extra.

Menu

    Animated with audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:33)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Strangely, while this movie was released in the US on VHS in 1989, I can find no details about this DVD being released in Region 1. It might have been pulled due to MJ's current troubles.

Summary

    This DVD is for serious MJ fans only. I found some nostalgic value in watching it, but overall, it's pretty boring and silly. There I said it - the Gloved One's movie is rubbish. Let the flame mail begin . . .

    The video quality is reasonable, but presented in pan & scan.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The extras are limited to a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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