If you’ve never heard of this movie, you may very well be wondering why I’m reviewing a movie featuring Michael Jackson and a bunch of music videos that wasn’t even released in theaters. And I have a few reasons for you. The biggest reason is that in this movie, Michael Jackson sees himself as a superhero plain and simple. Another reason is that in my memory I think I had played up the superhero portion of this movie more than it actually was. And as for why I’m reviewing a direct-to-video movie? Kudos on knowing this site well enough that you read my initial list of movies. When I started this site, the plan was to watch and review at least 100 theatrically released superhero movies this year. In the past few months working on this site, I’ve expanded my focus. I’m posting something seven times a week, including three movie reviews. I want to keep doing this past just the first year, but I also don’t want to waste all the good movies too soon. So over the next few months I’ll be reviewing more straight to video movies including many of the well-made animated movies from Marvel and DC. I’ll also at some point be adding reviews for more heroic movies that aren’t quite superhero movies, like fantasy or sci-fi movies under the heading “Almost Super”. But I think this movie qualifies as a cheesy superhero movie, if only just barely. It’s definitely got the cheese portion covered.
In all honestly, Moonwalker barely qualifies as a movie at all. The actual plot portion of the movie only covers forty minutes of its hour and a half running time and even that has a fairly long music video section stuck right in the middle of it. It starts off with a mostly concert footage music video for Man in the Mirror, then it cuts to a weird montage of all of his popular songs starting out with his time in the Jackson 5 on up through the Bad album. Then it goes into a music video parody of Bad featuring a whole bunch of kids. Considering his infamous relationship with children, it makes for some awkward ideas that are either disturbing or unintentionally funny depending on how you look at it. Personally I thought it was rather cute and funny. It then moves onto a claymation video featuring MJ as a Bugs Bunny-esque rabbit that gets chased by some weird looking claymation fans and has some Looney Tunes type antics before having a dance-off between the claymation rabbit and Michael himself. Finally it moves onto one last music video for his song Leave me Alone. While I didn’t care much for the montage – I thought it was way too long and fairly dull – the other songs are some of my favorites. In fact every song in this movie are most of my favorite Michael Jackson songs. I was never a huge fan, but I generally enjoyed his music. Well, up through Scream at least, not really anything past that one.
Finally thirty five minutes into the movie and something resembling a plot appears. There’s three kids talking about a lucky star. They’re rather dirty looking, possibly runaways, possibly orphans, it never explains that part… or any part really. But it does give us a flashback to a bright sunny field where they are playing with Michael and their dog. That is until the dog runs off and MJ and the girl stumble into Joe Pesci’s evil lair with a bunch of stormtroopers and tarantulas. You know he’s evil because he has a weird ponytail, tiny sunglasses, and his big evil scheme involves getting kids addicted to drugs. Because everyone knows its the kids who have all the disposable income to make a drug dealer rich. The girl screams, the bad guys chase them, then it comes back to the present. Of course, there’s no way to know how far in the past that flashback was, with the major shift in color scheme and condition of their lives it appears to be a long time ago, yet it really can’t be since Joe Pesci is still chasing them like it had just happened a couple days ago.
There is really so much left unexplained in this movie. Is it in the future? The only people seen that aren’t part of a music video are the three kids, Michael, Joe Pesci, and his troops. The troops all seem vaguely futuristic who eventually wield laser cannons, yet nothing else really seems futuristic. Then there’s Michael and his magical superpower that is using a shooting star to become a transformer. He first becomes a futuristic looking car and drives off to do his Smooth Criminal music video – leaving the kids outside to get captured by Pesci. Then in the finale he transforms into a giant robot complete with missiles, deflector shields, laser cannons, and a sonic scream that explodes the heads of several of the troops, but conveniently not any of the children. His giant robot then turns into an even larger spaceship with an even larger laser that he uses to destroy Pesci’s giant laser cannon that he has for some reason and fly off into space before he comes back to take the kids to a Michael Jackson concert.
Now, I had seen this movie when I was younger and I thought it was extremely stylish and pretty impressive. I also really enjoyed the Moonwalker arcade game – much better than the Genesis version. Watching it again now and I still think it’s pretty stylish, but it feels totally hollow. It’s like I can’t believe how much money was spent to create what boils down to a monument to Michael Jackson. In this movie he gets to be the king of pop on stage, playing to thousands of fans. He gets to be Bugs Bunny, to show that he has a sense of humor. He gets to be magic. He gets to be a giant frikkin robot. He gets to be a savior for children; He saves these three children from the evils of a druglord while at the same time being their father figure as there are no other adults in their world besides the bad guys and the dancers from the Smooth Criminal music video, but they’re from the 30’s and disappear after the video’s over. It’s a giant hour and a half tribute to how awesome Michael Jackson is. And as far as his music is concerned, especially with the amazing Smooth Criminal scene, he is pretty awesome. But he should have stuck with just making music videos and let someone else do anything involving a basic plot. And yet somehow I managed to review it… barely. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.