Review: BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul Film
Much like how you waited painstakingly for your own tour date to arrive, the BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul concert movie hit theaters for one day only on January 26 (along with additional dates at CGV Cinemas Buena Park in the 270-degree panoramic ScreenX format, now playing until February 1). And while the film holds no candle to what you might’ve witnessed live at the concert, it’s a budget-friendly experience decent enough for those who weren’t able to physically attend the tour, or for those who simply want to sing along to the setlist.
The anticipation for the one-day event could lead expectations to run high. Simply the magnitude of the event leads you to believe that. International sensation BTS performing for 90,000 (over two days) at the Seoul Olympic Stadium—it’s massive, right? And yet, rather than an immersive experience, the film feels detached as it excludes some of the best elements of the live concert—perhaps in an effort to shorten the almost two-hour film, or other external factors.
If your favorite parts of the concert were the transitional films between each act, particularly the ones preceding each individual member’s performance, then you’re in for a disappointment. One of the best parts of any concert is the silence in anticipation between each song, especially if you’re previously unaware of what’s coming next. Then, the film plays and the crowd roars in excitement as the next performance is revealed. Aside from the introductory reel and the quintessential BigHit Entertainment intro, however, the film strips the viewer of that experience, quickly transitioning between each song with a black fade-in-fade-out that feels more like a slideshow than a virtual concert.
Another beloved part of K-Pop concerts is the lull between songs when the group takes a moment to address the crowd. For international tour dates, it’s usually a brief conversation with cute efforts to speak English (or the country’s native language). But in Seoul, the boys were more than likely speaking freely because of the lack of a language barrier. Unfortunately, these little bits of humanity are also excluded from the film. These genuine unscripted moments peak out towards the end of the concert when the boys approach a medley of their hype songs like “Fire” and “Baepsae;” we see them laughing and engaging with the crowd. The film could’ve felt more personal including even a snippet of their personal introductions, at the least.
There are still a lot of elements to appreciate about the concert film—some of which might even heighten your memories of the live concert. If you were unfortunately seated in a nosebleed seat towards the top, the film has more than enough close-up shots of each member’s face. The camerawork soars over the uniform crowd, collecting views of the stage that you’d never be able to see in person. Because of the variety of angles, it’s also easier to appreciate the set design. The symmetry of the screens would be hard to notice if you’re sitting on a side. Now you can awe at the attention to detail—not only for the stage, but for the costumes as well. From Suga’s shimmery red suit during “Trivia: Seesaw” to every flower embellishment on Jin’s blazer during “Epiphany,” it’s hard not to be impressed by the extravagance of the production.
When the camera pans to an audience view and you see the faces of each attendee, clutching their signs and ARMY bombs and gazing at the members, it’s hard not to feel the rush of emotions you felt at the concert. Yes, the concert film is essentially a sing-along, but it’s worth checking out if you’re curious. Jimin succeeded in making me lose my mind again during “Serendipity,” so your bias is bound to steal your heart again—especially with those killer close-ups.