Netflixable? Colorless “BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky,” and don’t have much to say

Anyone worried that watching how their favorite K-Pop confection is prepared for world music domination will spoil “Blackpink” for them can rest easy. “BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky” doesn’t dive deep into the latest South Korean YG Entertainment-assembled pop creation.

It’s a superficial skim across the surface of these young women, groomed for stardom from their early teens, about as deep as their multi-lingual singles — “Ice Cream,” “Whistle” and that thumb-through-the-thesaurus, “Ddu-Du, Ddu-Du.”

Caroline Suh’s plainly officially-sanctioned “up close and personal” profile of the four 20ish singers may get a half-admission that this one regrets “memories” that might have been created by living with her family and going to high school, that another one might have worked up the temerity to ask permission to work with a different producer for a possible solo project.

Their producer, Teddy Park, can talk about them having drilled in “the techniques and tools that they need for the next ten years,” because that’s their shelf life — tops.

But while each individual comes off as distinct...ish, none of us are that interesting or that distinct at that age. And having lived in a bubble, trained at YG’s “academy,” living in a dorm for 4-6 years before being assembled and unleashed on Korea, Asia and then the world, living and traveling and performing together, never allowed to smoke, drink or “get a tattoo,” you can’t help but get the impression that “Light Up the Sky” isn’t remotely as informative or revealing as a movie about them after all this is over — maybe one made four years from now.

That’s no criticism of Jisoo, “Unnie,” the “older sister” of the group, of the blonde, guitar and keyboard-playing Rose’, of Lisa from Thailand or Jennie, the Korean New Zealander. They’ve been drilled to stand out only in that girl group/boy-band way. And in this case, they’re not even distinct in that regard, no “Sporty Spice” or “the rebel” or what have you.

Little hints are all we get of what their lives have really been like — boarding school Down Under, then selected for stardom, 14 hour workdays rehearsing and recording and trying out all during their teens.

That moment when a very young Miley Cyrus complained that her backup dancers almost dropped her right off the stage, captured in the “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” film, and having her parents shrug it off was more revealing than anything here.

Not having personal lives, and being younger than Katy Perry, there are no weepie meltdowns over the pressure or a lost romance as we saw in “Katy Perry: Part of Me.” Blackpink is as covered-up as rapper and former 1TYM (K-pop) member turned producer Teddy Park, always seen in a mask, here.

The film is built around their North American breakthrough at Coachella, although much of it was shot afterwards, sort of a “Here’s who they are now that you’ve been introduced to the music and choreography of their act” quickie.

“Light Up the Sky” is limited to the four women and Teddy Park as interview subjects, with a little interaction — a pilates instructor “friend” here, a makeup artist or outside producer there.

They go through “fittings,” where their wardrobe has been narrowed down (limiting choices) for them to “select” and “be creative.”

Their precision on stage doesn’t hide lip-synching any more than their revealing outfits and perfect twerks, bumps and grinds obscure how utterly sexless it all is. It’s like that infamous moment in Rolling Stone Magazine history, when sexless pop idol David Cassidy revealed a little pubic hair on the cover and ended his pop idol reign.

“Sexy but sexless” is what sells to this audience. Always has.

Hearing from their fans, how great it is that “they’re best friends” and all makes you long for the day when those fans figure out “It’s not like they have a choice.”

Speaking as a guy outside of their target demo, I’m always as interested in how the sausage is made. Over the years, I’ve covered Britney Spears as she transitioned from Disney kid to pop tart, interviewed Maurice Starr (NKOTB etc) and his more criminal copycat Lou Pearlman, covered NSync in court as they sought freedom from their indentured servitude contracts.

So what’s left out of “Light Up the Sky” is a LOT more interesting than anything we’re shown here. It’d have to be. Because even by the standards of “officially approved” pop phenom bios of the Bieber/Miley variety, this is weak tea.

MPAA Rating: TV-14, a bit of skin, popping and locking and shimmy shimmy shakes, etc.

Cast: Jennie Kim, Jisoo Kim, Lalisa Manoban, Roseanne “Rose'” Park, Teddy Park

Credits: Directed by Caroline Suh. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:19

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Netflixable? Colorless “BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky,” and don’t have much to say

  1. TJ Pinlac says:


    I see that you’re referencing between documentaries from Miley Cyrus/Spears/Bieber to a single asian pop group. Your criteria of LUTS basically revolves around the thought of “What if white people directed this documentary instead?”

    K-pop incorporates english words to their music to cater to international fans, not just the Americans. Calling it ‘Thumb-through-the-thesaurus’ just goes to show how you’re completely missing the point. It’s not written to impress white people, dont flatter yourself. It’s written so international fans can catch the songs easily. You couldn’t properly pronounce a single non-english line from their songs even if you tried. I see you’re new to non-white songs, too.

    ‘Lip-syncing’? Backing vocals are normal in a K-pop performance as dancing and singing could take up a lot of stamina. Their choreography is complex and varied, and they’re trained to manage their breath to keep up with the vocalization part. The body could only go so far before giving up, hence, the backing vocals. It’s industry standard, get over it.

    Your term “Sexy but sexless” doesn’t really directly apply on Asian culture. Being conservative is almost as normal as being liberated in Asian countries, and if anything, it’s the latter that is mostly controversial; Unlike the Westerners where almost every conversation and media content HAS to contain some kind of sexual reference otherwise their sense of pride and purpose just shoots straight down. I’m sorry that our culture differs from yours.

    You’re argument about “How they became friends because its not like they have a choice” is weak. Asian boy/girl groups are formed strongly influenced by their chemistry to each other. There are countless trainees out there that don’t debut just because they fail on that aspect. It is a rare sight when people ‘click’ with each other, but when it happens, the bond is surely as strong as family, especially when you’re Asian.

    And, if you’re looking for a line-up variety like a sporty-spice or a rebel, I suggest you’d rather watch The Breakfast Club, or some cliché ‘dysfunctional group of friends’ american movie instead.

    You’re comparing white pop stars to asian pop stars. It’s like crying because your apple doesn’t taste like durian.

    Your ‘review’ tries too hard to point out flaws. You’re basically whining because unlike the source material from your references, from the structure, sequencing, and the narrative, this one isn’t white-washed.

    Its a good thing you know you’re not the target demographic, tho. Your review felt like a 6th grader’s essay homework. Maybe learn a little bit more about Asians, their culture, and how their media practices greatly differ from your everyday cup of tea.

    Have a nice evening.

    • “White” has nothing to do with anything. “Hollywood” does. Miley Cyrus and others work with Latinx, African American filmmakers re: concert films. What matters is that the filmmaker here is a product of HOLLYWOOD. Your whole long-winded thesis is thus wrong because you choose to read criticism of your idols in those terms. There is nothing we see in this absurdly superficial “inside peek” that we didn’t see in docs about One Direction, NKOTB, Boyz 2 Men, Bieber or BTS. They all hew to a Western culture ideal of prepubescent pop stardom and how it is MARKETED. Sorry. Nothing new here. And you’re welcome.

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