Square One Image

Square One

By Josiah Teal | July 22, 2020

When people talk about Michael Jackson, the conversation usually falls into one of two camps. The first see Michael Jackson as the pop superstar who moonwalked across the stage and sold millions of records. To others, he’s the celebrity whose name became synonymous with the accusations and legal proceedings that would follow most of his later career. On August 13th of 1993, the LAPD opened the first investigation against Michael Jackson for allegations of molesting 13-year old Jordan Chandler. Square One seeks to highlight new evidence and testimony of the first investigation and shed some light on the allegations against the “King of Pop.”

Square One opens by outlining the details of the Jordan Chandler case and establishes a timeline of the events that eventually led to the media storm that followed. Director and co-writer Danny Wu also takes tremendous strides in establishing the credibility of his interviewees. Throughout the film, the witnesses and experts state how they knew Michael Jackson or Jordan Chandler. The accomplishments of investigative journalist Charles Thompson are shown in a credits-style scroll as they are so expansive. By establishing this validity early on, Wu paints the picture that Evan Chandler, the father of alleged victim Jordan Chandler, as a conspirator against Jackson.

“…seeks to highlight new evidence and testimony of the first investigation…”

As the documentary progresses, several experts and people close to Jackson (at the time) fill in the gaps in Evan Chandler’s story of molestation on Jackson’s part, often showing the inconsistencies and lack of context to much his claims. These inconsistencies are expanded on by stating the opportunist nature of many others who came forward after Chandler. Wu handles this flow of information using animated segments depicting the events discussed and cutting to footage of the news sources themselves. Through the use of first-hand sources and secondary evidence, Wu builds the case that Michael Jackson does not match the profile of a child molester but could not have committed these acts.

The movie concludes as a strong rebuttal to the likes of Leaving Neverland or Living with Michael Jackson as it seeks to dispel the claims discussed in previous documentaries. The film closes stating, “Every allegation is built on the ’93 investigation. If that one is false, and I do believe it is false, the rest crumble.” Wu paces the documentary almost like an A24 film – pulsing music to build tension, classical music accompanying the interviews, even down to the aerial shots of the city and font to show the years. The vibe of tension and release creates a mood much closer to something like The Lobster than a typical celebrity documentary.

I found this film very insightful, opening new perspectives on the entire legacy of Michael Jackson. Ultimately, it is up to the viewer to decide if Square One creates reasonable doubt and the validity of the evidence and testimony. During some stretches of Wu reading the evidence himself or showing clips of articles for the viewer to peruse, the film loses its momentum. But overall, the film lends voice to those who believe in Jackson’s innocence. If you are a fan of fast-paced documentaries such as The Imposter or are wishing to see the other side of the Chandler case, this film will open new perspectives and leave you wanting to investigate on your own.

Square One (2019)

Directed: Danny Wu

Written: Shania Kumar, Danny Wu

Starring: Danny Wu, Charles Thomson, Jenny Winings, Taj Jackson, Geraldine Hughes, Josephine Zohny, Caroline Fristedt, etc.

Movie score: 9.5/10

Square One  Image

"…a strong rebuttal to the likes of Leaving Neverland or Living with Michael Jackson..."

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  1. Truth says:

    Absolute disgrace what was done to Michael Jackson. He was innocent. He pleaded his innocence time and time again. He should have fought the original case.

    Regardless of Jordy Chandler being a child. He is a disgrace and I hope he rots for what he did.

    He should Today have some guts. Come out and say it was all Bullshit.

    Grow some Jordy. You scumbag

  2. Pearl Jr says:

    then see what happened at 2005 trial here https://youtu.be/3pnAg_a-tQg

  3. Bey bey says:

    That’s a very good review. I watched the YouTube version.Hope it will be available in amazon prime in my country.

  4. B. Gentile says:

    Thank you for this review! I watched tonight and I’m astonished at what I learned! This documentary was eye opening for sure!! I feel heartbroken for Michael Jackson

  5. Alejandra says:

    Great review! I wish more people whatch this doc! I wish jordan chandler himself talk about it someday..

  6. Myra says:

    Thank you for your honest review. Michael Jackson is innocent, period. There has never been any EVIDENCE against him, and when charges were brought against him, he was FULLY exonerated. It is time to let the man rest in peace.

  7. Enya says:

    Thank you very much for your review of this documentary. It is very important that the media is aware of the facts and Square One shows everything that the media has hidden for years. Great job!

  8. Kirstie says:

    Thank you for such a positive review.

  9. Jim says:

    Thanks for reviewing this important film
    the media ignores it for a reason
    most people if were aware of the information in this documentary would at least question the validity of those allegations
    hard to see how this much evidence of someone’s innocent could exist if he was a serial molester
    you jsut don’t see this in the R Kelly case, the Nassar case, the
    Jackson’s behavior of thinking of himself as a child and universal father at the same time made him an easy target
    all the accusers have to do is list various sex acts and they are believed because Jackson had sleepovers with them
    but none of them has proof
    none of them can keep their story straight
    none of them could describe how his vitiligo ridden skin looked or why he would even expose that when he was ashamed of it, by most accounts
    and all of them have ulterior motives

  10. Chris says:

    I started following the Jackson case from around 1995 onward. by this time much of the legal documentation around the Chandler case was in the public domain and I was astounded by what I read. it didn’t match the news reports! because of this I closely followed the 2003 case leading to the 2005 trial. i read the court docs every day as the trial progressed. it’s true to say I know this subject very well. what always amazed me was the way in which the press reported this whole story. the press focused on reporting prosecution filings as fact, usually completely ignoring the defence case, even when the defence was water tight. the press continue to misreport the Jackson allegations to this day. for example, how many people know that the Leaving Neverland accusers were caught lying repeatedly, changing their stories and contradicting themselves throughout their failed civil claim (rejected in 2017)??
    their film didn’t tell viewers any of it and the press, some of whom HAD previously reported it (TMZ called them liars outright at the time), suddenly reported their claims as fact without even giving any hint that they were caught lying.

    as for the 2005 trial, I was just about the only person I knew who thought Jackson would be acquitted. why? because I read the court docs. everybody else believed all manner of false or misleading reports in the press. if course when the verdict came the press created this appearance of surprise and disbelief, but they knew what they’d done. they just didn’t want to lose face by admitting they lied to their viewers. it continues to this day. the press need better regulation.

    anyway, that was a very long way to say this documentary is the ONLY one that even comes close to telling viewers the truth. I can very most of what it says is true. I have no reason not to believe the rest. the director did a fantastic job of researching his subject andlaying it out very clearly, complete with evidence for his viewers to peruse. a very credible film, and for the uninformed it’s a real eye opener.

  11. Jess says:

    Very insightful review and thanks for covering indie film.

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