Streaming Review

Blackpink: Light Up the Sky review – K-pop doc is spirited but safe

K-pop megastars Blackpink - arguably the biggest girlband in the world - share a look at their meteoric rise in this empathetic profile

Considering the members of K-pop girlband Blackpink have amassed around 120 million followers cumulatively on Instagram, it makes sense that some kind of exposé charting their meteoric rise to fame over the last four years would be in order. The young women – Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa – take centre stage in Caroline Suh’s empathetic documentary Blackpink: Light Up the Sky: a good primer for those not yet among those 120 million followers, but hardly a solid sales pitch either.

The mechanics of superstardom in South Korea have a rigid structure to them: the Blackpink girls began their journey as “trainees” in bootcamp-like schools where they were taught to sing, dance, and, well, develop that special kind of X Factor over a period of four to six years. Some of the most revelatory moments come through archive videos, courtesy of Blackpink’s agency, YG Entertainment, as we see these young women performing to impress before anyone knew their names.

Suh then sits each Blackpink member down in lavish, pastel-coloured rooms, and listens to them talk about their upbringings, their ambitions, the shock of it all. If you’ve never heard of any of this, it’s compelling – but for die-hard fans this “all-access” film doesn’t seem like a particularly intimate affair.

Some of the band’s most popular songs are peppered in-between interviews and archival footage, but it does feel like there’s a key ingredient missing to pinpoint what exactly it is that propelled this specific band into the stratosphere – everyone nods about how different the Blackpink girls are as people, but the dissection of their music still feels slippery. It sounds good, they have fun, but so do lots of things that have nowhere near 30 million followers.

What are they fighting for? What can we expect next? Blackpink are eager to stress how much more potential they have, how much more they have to give the world. Perhaps, but it seems like such revelations will transpire on stage, at Coachella, in Korea, wherever their bright stars take them next. Light Up the Sky is happy to just sit back and watch them soar.

Blackpink: Light Up the Sky is now streaming on Netflix.

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