Spike Lee’s documentary on Michael Jackson’s album Bad fails to ask important and difficult questions. Skimming the surface of an incredibly troubled life, it is never quite brave enough in its handling of the man behind the music. Focusing on the composition, structure, videos and live performances of the songs on the album, the documentary is a self indulgent and aesthetically entertaining celebration of music, rather than an emotive portrait.
Is this a bad thing? Some would say no, that it’s refreshing to finally have a feature length look at Michael Jackson that doesn’t attempt intrusive psychoanalysis. However, I can’t help but feel that the film comes off as especially limp when compared to Marley, the other major music documentary to come out this year. Aside from the shallow treatment of its subject, Bad 25’s camera work is unimaginative, its interviews tiresome, and its choice of celebrities crass (Justin Bieber has a scene where he cites Michael Jackson as a major influence, and references one of his music videos, comparing it to The Way You Make Me Feel). If anything, the documentary inadvertently reveals that some of Michael Jackson’s creative team were complete creeps, and interesting facts are divulged only to be forgotten.
Frustrating, if only for its lack of depth, my main criticism of Bad 25 is that it offers nothing that a good listen of the Bad album and a little research wouldn’t provide.
FINAL VERDICT: ★★ 1/2