CAPTION: “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” has been released for home viewing.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It (Sony, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG, 111 min.). Initial thoughts of watching this documentary put together from rehearsal footage is what a great concert it would have been to attend, and that Jackson was still at the top of his game as a performer.

Director Kenny Ortega was in charge of production for Jackson’s planned “This Is It” show, a series of 50 concerts in London, after his being away from performing live for 13 years. However, Jackson died at age 50, only eight days before he was to leave for London and the final rehearsals. Quite a bit of footage was shot of the rehearsal process for Jackson’s personal archives and that was what Ortega had to work with in putting together this wonderful film.

Jackson and his dancers — 10 men and two women — may not be in final costumes, but we get a good sense of each number, and Jackson is singing live. Highlights are many but include “Startin’ Something” from at least two different rehearsals; the dancing for “Jam”; how the male dancers were digitally replicated into thousands for the backdrop film for “They Don’t Care About Us”; the fun intro for “Smooth Criminal” that has Jackson interacting with Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart; the big girder construction set backing for “The Way You Make Me Feel”; the Jackson 5 medley that will have you clapping along; and the environmental “Earth Song,” with its film of a little girl in a rain forest that is bulldozed down. Throughout, we get glimpses of Jackson as a bit of a perfectionist, but also a musical genius. There would have been a giant spider on stage, a bulldozer and a closing with a 3-D airplane and a matching physical ramp so it would appear Jackson and the dancers had boarded and flown away.

DVD extras include the complete film vignettes for “Smooth Criminal” and the new 3-D opening for “Thriller”; an 11-minute look at making “Smooth Criminal” (these three are exclusive to the Blu-ray version); a two-part, 46-minute look at staging Jackson’s return; a 9:50 look at the dance auditions; and a 15:13 look at the costumes. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 3.5 stars

Surrogates (Touchstone, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 89 min.). In this near future (based on a graphic novel), much of mankind have taken to staying in their homes for safety and instead venture out and go to their jobs in human-looking, robot avatars that they control while lying on a couch. The film follows FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis), who actually leans toward the human protest movement as he would like he and his wife (Rosamund Pike as Maggie) to go on vacation as their real selves. She would rather have their avatars go. When Greer chases down a killer (Jack Noseworthy with a weapon that can overload the surrogates’ neural systems and send back feedback that destroys the human’s minds as well), his avatar crashes in a helicopter, is shot up and ultimately destroyed, but the FBI will not give him a new surrogate right away. So Greer has to continue his pursuit in person.

The action sequences are juiced by the fact that some surrogates can do amazing physical feats such as long jumps from vehicle top to vehicle top (in a unique car chase). However, director Jonathan Mostow (the third “Terminator” film) also looks at the social consequences, such as the G.I. Joe surrogates who are sent out into battle (when one is killed, its operator simply gets another out of storage and continues to battle). Ving Rhames plays The Prophet, leader of the human resistance from an enclave in Charlestown, Mass. (the film was shot in the Boston area), and James Cromwell is Canter, creator of the surrogates.

Extras include a fine audio commentary by Mostow; a Breaking Benjamin music video; and, exclusive to Blu-ray, four deleted scenes, a look at what actually exists towards creating surrogates (14:34) and a look at transferring the graphic novel to film (6:33), including interviews with writer Robert Venditti and artist Brett Weldele. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 3.25 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Additional reviews are available online at and include the excellent seventh season of Britain’s “MI-5” and the first two films that starred Lex Barker as Tarzan.