If Michael Jackson's unexpected death is a "where were you when?" cultural moment akin to the JFK assassination, then This Is It is that moment's oddly upbeat Zapruder film.

If Michael Jackson's unexpected death is a "where were you when?" cultural moment akin to the JFK assassination, then This Is It is that moment's oddly upbeat Zapruder film.

Filmed during rehearsals for Jackson's planned 50-show run of the same name, This Is It isn't quite a documentary, and it isn't quite a concert film. But with a release just months after Jackson's death and a limited two-week run, it's certainly a unique moviegoing experience - and likely to be criticized as profiteering.

Instead of a career-spanning memorial, the film's an approximation of a concert experience that will never be, and it requires a bit of imagination to envision that concert's scope (though it includes completed film sequences like a "Thriller" segment planned for 3-D).

What requires no imagination is Jackson's talent. His moves at age 50 wipe away fears he was in a washed-up Fat Elvis period.

The film feels rather raw, and that's probably not just a stylistic choice. This footage was shot for internal use, the kind of stuff you'd expect in a DVD special feature. For those not passionate about Jackson's music, it's fascinating but by no means enthralling.

The finished product might have been more suitable as an HBO special than a theatrical release, but that would have denied fans a warm and communal experience. Think of it as the First Church of Pop.