Review: K-Pop’s NCT Dream brings concert experience to theaters

Review: K-Pop's NCT Dream rocks theaters

Strobe lights, seat rumbles and confetti made the boy band's 4DX experience feel like a real live venue.
Published: December 2, 2022
Photo of K-pop boy band NCT Dream boyband
"NCT DREAM THE MOVIE: In A DREAM" is the boy band's first feature film.

As soon as that catchy opening line broke out — “Scratch that, bring it back!” — the seats jolted left and right, strobe lights pulsed against a bass-heavy rhythm and the on-screen crowd went wild for a group of early-20-somethings performing, “Glitch Mode.”

Wednesday night, K-pop boy band NCT Dream released their first feature film, NCT DREAM THE MOVIE: In A DREAM, in 4DX theaters worldwide. This part-concert, part-documentary spectacle immersed audiences into an amusing cinematic experience that makes one’s stomach turn from butterflies and motion sickness.

The Regal Cinemas 4DX theater inside Destiny USA covers all the sensory bases with its strong winds, fog, evocative scents, snow and high-tech motion seats that lurch back and forth and side to side in sync with the choreography. Honestly, being brutally tossed around in a movie chair while facing first-degree assault by special effects can be a bit jarring and off-putting at first. But at some point, you have to give into the ridiculousness and have a little fun — which is what NCT Dream is all about.

NCT Dream, made up of members Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle and Jisung, debuted in 2016 as the bubbly, teenaged subunit of NCT (Neo Culture Technology). While they’ve matured quite a bit since then, their unwavering youthful spirit remains. NCT DREAM THE MOVIE: In A DREAM follows the boys as they prepare for the biggest concert of their career in Seoul, South Korea’s 65,000-seat capacity Olympic Stadium.

The film features behind-the-scenes footage of dance rehearsals, production meetings and never-before-seen interviews about how the members support each other throughout the ups and downs of stardom.

In between high-energy performances of songs from their latest repackaged album Beatbox, NCT Dream took their fans (endearingly called NCTzens) on a trip down memory lane with their early hits, “My First My Last” and “Chewing Gum.” During the latter, a vaguely fruity fragrance dispersed throughout the theater, reminiscent of the sugary-sweet bubblegum the guys sing so cheerfully about. However, “Ridin’,” “Quiet Down” and “BOOM” exposed their darker, more seductive and aggressive sides. With the help of the theater’s industrial fans blasting gusts of wind around the room, NCT Dream almost literally blew moviegoers away. (Seriously, though, bring a coat. It was freezing.)

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While immersed in such an elaborate and energetic spectacle, it took some audience members a moment to determine whether the usual concert behavior of singing, dancing and cheering was acceptable movie etiquette. As main vocalist Haechan appeared on screen to belt out a high note, one girl in the theater gasped, quietly clapped and peeked around the room to see if anyone would shush her.

But no one did. In a way, she gave everyone else the “OK” to let loose a little. And soon enough, people were getting into the concert as if they were right there in the stadium with NCT Dream.

Given the enhanced effects and extra dose of whiplash, these 4DX movie tickets cost more than the 2D version. But a five-dollar upcharge doesn’t seem so bad when popcorn and concessions already cost a fortune.

As in-person K-pop concerts are becoming fairly frequent in the United States, a 4DX film is a decent option to tie over fans until the next idol group tours America’s major cities. NCT DREAM THE MOVIE: In A DREAM follows a slew of K-pop concert films screened this past year, including “Blackpink: The Movie,” “Monsta X: The Dreaming” and “Seventeen Power of Love: The Movie.” These surely won’t be the last.

When the grand finale of NCT DREAM THE MOVIE: In A DREAM rolled out, so did the 4DX big guns. The motion chairs riled back up for “Hot Sauce” as the concert closed with an elaborate fireworks show, imitated in the theater by strobe lights, rumbles underneath the seats, and a blast of snow-like confetti.

If it sounds excessive, it was. Still, some things just need to be experienced first-hand to get the full effect. Catch the last showings of NCT DREAM THE MOVIE: In A DREAM, in 2D and 4DX at 3 p.m. this Saturday