‘MONSTA X: The Dreaming’ review: larger than life and closer than ever to their fans

MONSTA X bring fans behind the scenes and share candid, honest thoughts in their first-ever concert film

In the opening scenes of MONSTA X: The Dreaming, we see the beginnings of the K-pop group that would eventually come to be known as MONSTA X. Early footage of Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney and I.M shows them as young, wide-eyed trainees, eager to show their potential and talent in hopes of achieving their respective showbiz dreams. Fast forward to 2021, and they are now considered “seniors” in the industry, but as Kihyun emphasises, “We didn’t fall from the moon, we climbed the stairs step by step, little by little.”

Their collective confidence and self-assuredness is evident throughout their first-ever concert film, which brings viewers behind the scenes as they prepare for the performances filmed exclusively for it. Described as a “gift to their fandom” – known as Monbebe – the movie is also interspersed with archive footage from past performances, along with insights from staff members and one-on-one interviews with all the members; sans leader Shownu, who’s currently enlisted in the military.

Shownu can still be seen in the movie, of course: there are throwbacks of him in MONSTA X’s emotional first-ever music show win with ‘Dramarama’ in 2017 and their US promotions in early 2020. But the absence of their leader is something that the group address candidly, as they’re shown discussing how to rework the choreography and the songs’ parts for five. “It’s confusing,” admits Minhyuk, while Joohoney explains how performing with one less member isn’t as easy as it looks. “We have to generate the energy of six members with just five,” adding how this can be “a risk”.

Viewers are also brought along to production meetings, dance practices and even a re-recording session that showed both the members’ serious and lighthearted sides, particularly Joohoney’s. At the meetings, the five of them take turns to express their opinions and visions for the performance stage; it is clear that they know exactly what they want to show their fans, and what their fans would want to see. “Monbebe like to see new things,” Minhyuk points out, and Hyungwon adds that the best thing about the movie is showing fans “different sides” of them.

Watching MONSTA X prepare for their first-ever concert movie is in some ways an extension of what they already show their fans through behind-the-scenes videos for comeback activities like photoshoots and music video shoots. For the uninitiated, however, it may provide an interesting look into the lengthy preparations in the lead-up to one particular event – in this case, the concert clips. Fans are treated to both high-energy and mellow performances of their Korean and English singles, including ‘Love Killa’ from their third Korean studio album ‘Fatal Love’ and ‘Who Do U Love’ from first English album ‘All About Luv’. There’s also an exclusive look and listen to a selection of songs from their latest English album ‘The Dreaming’, which launched a day after the release of the movie. This includes the retro-tinged bop ‘You Problem’, and poignant ballad ‘The Dreaming’.

MONSTA X’s ‘performance’ takes on a different spin when international manager Eshy Gazit gives the rundown of how well the group has done in the States, from charting on Billboard to appearing at Jingle Ball. Though it should be a proud moment for fans, being given the “report card” of their American successes takes the intimacy away. Another noticeable blip in the movie, particularly for long-time fans, would be how former member Wonho is effectively removed from the boyband’s history, even in footage that would have featured him.

Amidst the flashy performances, behind-the-scenes looks and introspective sharings from the members, what ultimately anchors the movie is the reason and motivation for this lofty project: Monbebe. MONSTA X is known for their close relationship with their fans, and throughout the entire film, mentions of them are never far from their lips. They speak wistfully of how much they miss their fans’ presence or hearing their screams at concerts, and affectionately call out to the fandom during the pre-recorded performance. Minhyuk acknowledged that the fans are “there with him in every waking moment, supporting him and encouraging him”, and Joohoney recounted what a fan wrote to him when he took time off at the end of 2019 for his mental health: “Do what you love at your own pace, and we’ll follow you.”

With the release of MONSTA X: The Dreaming, the guys jokingly welcome movie award nominations (I.M in an interview with Consequence) and love calls from Hollywood. But it’s clear enough that the win MONSTA X truly want is the love of their fans. “I want to tell our fans how much we sincerely think about them,” says an earnest Joohoney, while Kihyun has a simple wish: “I want [them] to be delighted when they watch the movie.” Being able to see the group larger than life through their debut concert movie would be enough of a win in the hearts of Monbebe all over the world.

Details

  • Director: Sung Sin-Hyo, Oh Yoon-Dong
  • Starring: Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney and I.M
  • Release date: December 9 and 11 globally
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