More than a year ago, the King of Pop’s mysterious and sudden death headlined just about every major news source in the world. Michael Jackson’s untimely passing caused a media frenzy and resulted in an avalanche of tribute material in various formats. Released exactly a year after the unfortunate event, Ian Halperin’s tribute “Gone Too Soon” explores the circumstances surrounding Jackson’s death .

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Ian Halperin is a Canadian investigative journalist  best known for his unauthorized works on Kurt Cobain, Celine Dion and most recently the controversial unauthorized biography “Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson”.

The  biography made it to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List in 2009 fuelled by Halperin’s prediction that Jackson was to bite the bullet  6 months from book’s release. Jackson indeed met his demise right about at the time that the journalist predicted (Halperin was off in his prediction by a day). Prior to the release of the feature “Gone Too Soon”, The journalist had been researching   and documenting the controversial life of Michael Jackson for five years and had gathered up to 300 hours of footage during the last year of the pop star’s life.

Written and directed by Halperin, the 88-minute documentary includes interview footage of the pop star’s ‘inner circle’ that includes Jackson’s personal manager, chef, spiritual adviser, trainer and attorney. The feature reveals a behind the scenes view on Jackson’s life and the problems that Halperin believes caused his untimely death – an addiction to prescription drugs, crushing debt and the looming 50 tours that have clearly caused him intense physical and emotional pressure.

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The documentary resembles an extended version of a 60-Minutes segment but unlike the respectable television segments, this feature has the tabloid quality of A Current Affair or Today Tonight  to it. It even includes flashes of Halperin in various dodgy disguises so that he can juice from MJ’s nearest and dearest.

“Gone Too Soon” proposes to shed more light into the circumstances surrounding Jackson’s death and to a degree it does, but for Jackson fans who clamor for the truth behind their beloved idol’s demise – the film doesn’t provide enough information. In fact, the film adds more questions to the mountain high pile, questions whose answers remain buried with the King of Pop.

Halperin calls this video a tribute to the famous pop star but truthfully it seems that it was not made in an expression of esteem for Michael Jackson. There’s no sign of his musical and artistic genius and nothing on his music. Rather, the documentary remains one of Halperin’s probing, sensationalist pieces of work that the journalist is known for.

A number of fans might find this film offensive – yes there is  a Facebook page dedicated to boycotting this film-  and indeed the film does nothing to appease fans for the loss of their idol. Non-fans of the Gloved One can still enjoy this documentary, and like documentaries on Marilyn and Elvis, it has the power to pique the curiosity of the regular television viewer, after all, who hasn’t heard of Michael Jackson?

“Gone Too Soon” is available on DVD from Hopscotch Films on 16 September 2010.

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