SEVENTEEN’s POWER OF LOVE : THE MOVIE Review
While imperfect, SEVENTEEN’s new film is a delight and well worth watching.
SEVENTEEN’s synchronized choreography, mesmerizing stage presence, and genuine camaraderie make their performances unforgettable and a step above the rest. They are also insightful artists, each with their own unique interpretations of the deeper meaning within their dance routines, music videos, and song lyrics. Thirteen distinct personalities come together in a variety of combinations to keep SEVENTEEN’s discography astoundingly diverse and their unit songs continuously fresh. These are the reasons why POWER OF LOVE : THE MOVIE is actually a bit disappointing.
Perhaps I expected too much out of a concert-documentary hybrid running just under two hours. I remain convinced that the best format for musician-based movies, both for narrative consistency and for the sake of the artists themselves, is a one-lane project. I enjoy musician-themed films focused on interviews and archival footage, and I enjoy concert movies. Putting the two together, however, results in both categories being compromised to a disappointing extent. Granted, SEVENTEEN do keep the focus on telling their backstory and discussing the ups and downs of tour life in the SEVENTEEN : HIT THE ROAD docuseries, so it is understandable why they choose not to rehash too much of their story in this new movie. However, feeling like the sit-down interview format has already been done is all the more reason why POWER OF LOVE : THE MOVIE ought to have been solely a concert movie. By releasing a documentary project and a concert movie separately, much more time could have been spent getting to know and appreciate each member of SEVENTEEN and the group as a collective on a deeper level.
The Interview Segments
From breaking down the different approaches their subunits take towards songwriting to revealing how much “IF I” transformed during the process of making it, SEVENTEEN provide some interesting background on hit songs and B-sides alike through individual interviews. While the amount of new information long-time Carats (fans of SEVENTEEN) can learn from the movie is minimal, part of the joy of hearing fun facts about their tracks is in the delivery of those facts. The members’ eyes light up as they animatedly gush about their passion for making music, they grin widely when recalling memories of bonding with their bandmates, and their sincerity in every comment is practically palpable.
A particularly touching part of the interviews is when the members, each in their own words, try to convey their gratitude for Carats and their sense of obligation to repay all the love they receive by spreading comfort and joy through music. Helping one another be and feel better is a core element in a positive relationship, an element that SEVENTEEN do not take for granted. The movie starts and ends with this message about how the power of love applies to Carats: some of the first footage shown is of the members worrying about if they can even fill enough seats in a venue to have their debut greenlit, and some of the final clips are of the members today, conveying their tremendous appreciation for the love and support that has propelled their career forward.
While the interview segments are a treat for Carats, the performances have appeal for an expanded audience. For a movie with a running time of just under two hours, SEVENTEEN pack an impressive amount of carefully choreographed, full-length performances into the movie. The energy of a live theater production SEVENTEEN bring to their in-person concerts remains present throughout, with expansive decor and numerous makeovers transforming the scene from song to song. The setlist is a much-appreciated mix of deep cuts and fan favorites and features songs from throughout their career. Alternative versions of hit songs keep their upteenth performances of them exciting and new, such as a rock version of “CLAP,” complete with a guitar solo from WOOZI, and the members joining a gospel choir for the intro of “Snap Shoot.” Viewers unfamiliar with SEVENTEEN can walk away from this movie impressed with the musical and conceptual variety, as well as the sheer breadth of their discography. Viewers would walk away from this movie impressed with the group’s personalities and experiences too, had the interview segments been longer. SEVENTEEN exude passion and enthusiasm in every performance, and seeing the genuine joy off stage the members express for their craft makes watching their time on stage even better.
Who SEVENTEEN Prove Themselves to Be
One of the things that allows SEVENTEEN to excel is their commitment to equal representation of the members’ creative visions. Between performances when they move as a fluid, singular unit, they make time for subunit and solo stages. Striving for unity and teamwork is not mutually exclusive from striving for individuality within a band. Cheering each other on is actually a key component of their success. It seems inevitable that a group with so many members experiences constant tension and infighting, but their mannerisms both on stage and off prove that is not the case.
SEVENTEEN let individual members shine in many ways. First of all, in this movie’s case, HOSHI delivers an adorable and very true-to-HOSHI performance of “호랑이 Power,” complete with a tiger mascot dancing beside him, and DINO commands attention during his performance of “ZERO (HERO).” Second of all, they show love to one another throughout group-wide performances, from playfully teasing each other to spontaneously hugging. Third of all, they repeat throughout their interviews how much they appreciate one another’s contributions, and no one displays an ego over the others’ compliments. WOOZI is particularly bashful after fellow vocal team members praise his leadership skills, going so far as to say no single member is a leader at all. Lastly, their feeling of incompleteness without each other is clear by how the online concert this movie takes scenes from was filmed. Due to the pandemic, JUN and THE 8 were unable to participate in SEVENTEEN’s recent online concert in South Korea. SEVENTEEN could have simply carried on without them but instead opted to go the extra mile, digitally including them in the show so they could perform from China.
POWER OF LOVE : THE MOVIE does what it set out to do: it reminds fans how irreplaceable and talented the members are, it shows how much they look out for one another and how their bond enables the elevation of their performances, it includes a versatile setlist in more ways than one, and it reminds Carats how appreciated we are. While too much of the documentary aspect of POWER OF LOVE : THE MOVIE has been seemingly left on the cutting-room floor, the plethora of performances makes the movie very entertaining and worth watching. I find the best editorial decision to be either going in-depth in interviews or not including them at all, without a watered-down in-between, but overall, it is a testament to SEVENTEEN’s artistry that my main complaint about POWER OF LOVE : THE MOVIE is that there was not enough of it!
For more of my thoughts on this movie, as well as my interpretation of the ways SEVENTEEN’s 2022 releases are connected to their “Power of Love” 2021 era, stay tuned for an upcoming episode of “17 Talk”!