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20TH CENTURY FOX

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
Halftime is party time in this high-energy comedy about a gifted street drummer (Nick Cannon) who snares the top spot in a university marching band - but quickly discovers it takes more than talent to succeed. Featuring a hip-hop soundtrack and dazzling dance moves, Drumline "shakes, rattles and rolls the house!" (Washington Post)

Director:
Charles Stone III
Cast:
Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana, Orlando Jones, Leonard Roberts, GQ, Jason Weaver
Writing Credits:
Tina Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps

Tagline:
Half time is game time
Box Office:
Budget $20 million.
Opening weekend $12.604 million on 1836 screens.
Domestic gross $55.785 million.
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround
French Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English, Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 4/15/2003

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Charles Stone III
• 10 Deleted Scenes with Commentary
• BET “Making of” Special
• Two Music Videos
• Soundtrack Promo
Antwone Fisher Trailer


PURCHASE
Widescreen DVD
Fullscreen DVD
Music soundtrack

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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Drumline (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (, 2003)

Hoary movie clichés don’t come much hoarier than The Big Game. Rocky, Bad News Bears, Remember the Titans - it’s the rare sports flick that doesn’t end with a climatic contest.

That cliché doesn’t restrict itself to sports movies, though. Tootsie ends with a big TV broadcast, while Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey concludes at a battle of the bands. 2002’s Drumline sort of spans the two, as it presents the story of a college marching band. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much its only innovation, as it suffers from every other predictable element in the book.

Drumline focuses on young college student Devon Miles (Nick Cannon). Actually, the flick starts at his high school graduation, where we discover that he lives with his single mother Dorothy (Angela Gibbs) and has had literally no contact with his father (Von Coulter), who he confronts after graduation.

As a member of the marching band, Devon earns a full scholarship to Atlanta A&T. We meet Devon’s bandmates and see as he hits on upperclassman Laila (Zoë Saldana). We get to know bandleader Dr. James Lee (Orlando Jones), a traditionalist who finds it hard to compete in a field more dominated by faddish musical trends; this tendency becomes represented by A&T’s main competitor, Morris Brown College. A&T’s President Wagner (Afemo Omilami) also pressures Lee to get with the times.

Most of the movie focuses on Devon’s adaptation to the band, and the rebellious teen often butts heads with the drumline leader, Sean Taylor (Leonard Roberts). Essentially the film traces Devon’s conflicts with Lee and Sean and also his romance with Laila. All of this leads inexorably toward The Big Game, as embodied by the BET Classic, a huge competition to name the best band in the land.

If Drumline included a single original moment, I couldn’t find it. Granted, the focus on marching bands made it unusual, and it’s nice to see that field get some recognition. Many of Drumline’s best moments stemmed from the performances, as those seemed creative and engaging.

However, I’m sure you could find another video product that shows these done without Hollywood accoutrements. The story of Drumline seemed rote and predictable, and nothing about its telling did much to spice up the piece. Cannon did a pretty decent job as Devon, though he tried a little too hard to make him the Allen Iverson of drumming. Unfortunately, the character appeared sketchy and unlikable. We’re expected to root for Devon, but he came across as so thoroughly unlikable and arrogant much of the time that I found it tough to want to see him succeed. Inevitably, the character experienced a change toward the end of the film, but that occurred in a ridiculously simplistic manner; clearly Devon grew because the script required it, not because of any natural flow.

Actually, all of the acting seemed solid, though no one really stood out from the crowd. I suppose Jones impressed me most just because he avoided his usual comedic schtick as Lee. He managed to make the character the most three-dimensional of the bunch and provided a reasonably full portrayal.

Too bad the rest of the movie seemed so generic. Honestly, only the emphasis on marching bands gave Drumline any distinction. Otherwise, it was just like any of a million other films in its genre. It possessed too little plot for its 116-minute running time, which meant director Charles Stone III padded its length with too many montages and other gimmicks. He also relied on hoary techniques like the sudden use of handheld cameras when things started to go wrong for Devon.

In the end, Drumline simply lacked the spark to make it anything special. To be sure, it offered a sporadically entertaining and fairly well-acted piece that seemed competent as a whole. It just didn’t do anything special to make itself come across as a noteworthy flick.


The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B+ / Bonus B

Drumline appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For the most part, the picture looked good, but it showed a few more problems than I’d like for a modern release.

Sharpness looked solid. The image maintained a nicely crisp and detailed appearance throughout the film. Things remained detailed and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I noticed some light to moderate edge enhancement at times. Some light artifacting also appeared on occasion, and I detected the occasional speckle or bit of grit.

Drumline boasted a nicely broad palette that the DVD replicated well. Mostly due to the presence of the bright and colorful uniforms, the movie showed vivid tones. The DVD made these look vibrant and distinctive. Black levels also were deep and rich, but shadow detail occasionally came across as slightly opaque. Most low-light shots appeared acceptably clean, but some of them were a little dense. In the end, the image of Drumline remained fairly solid.

Mostly due to the frequent use of music, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Drumline worked surprisingly well. The soundfield favored the forward channels but it expanded nicely to all channels as appropriate. Music displayed nice stereo imaging, and when it involved the bands, the tunes moved smoothly across the spectrum and to the rears. This seemed especially positive during the climactic Challenge, as drums marched around the room effectively. Effects demonstrated a good sense of atmosphere, but the music remained the star of the show, as those elements brought the track to life.

Audio quality appeared solid. Speech seemed natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a fairly minor role, but they came across as accurate and clean. Pyrotechnics at the games seemed tight and dynamic. Music continued to dominate the film, and those elements sounded terrific. The score appeared bright and robust, and the various band performances were vivid and powerful. Bass response seemed tight and deep. The soundfield lacked the pizzazz to earn an “A”-level score, but it approached that level, as the audio of Drumline impressed me.

As for supplements, we get a decent collection with Drumline. We start with an audio commentary from director Charles Stone III, who provides a running, screen-specific piece. He covers a good range of subjects. Stone mostly chats about technical topics like visual design, sets, locations, and the geometry of the images. However, he diversifies into other subjects as well, as he goes over drum training, the use of doubles, musical elements, goofs and many other issues. Except for one extended pause during the third act, Stone fills the space well. Overall, the commentary doesn’t seem exceptional, but it offers a fairly nice look at the film.

Next we find a collection of 10 deleted scenes. These run between 35 seconds and two minutes, 24 seconds for a total of 15 minutes, 33 seconds of material. These include a lot more band performance footage plus some small character bits. They mix alternate, extended and new pieces. Nothing special shows up here, though fans will probably enjoy the clips.

We can view the deleted scenes with or without commentary from director Stone. For the most part, he provides some background for the sequences. He occasionally relates why he cut them, but he doesn’t always do this. That makes his discussions chatty but not as informative as I’d like.

After this we get a BET Special about the film. Hosted by actor Nick Cannon, the 21-minute and 40-second program offers the usual mix of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from director Charles Stone III, actors Cannon, Orlando Jones, Leonard Roberts, Zoë Saldana, Jason Weaver, and GQ, producers Wendy Finerman, and Timothy M. Bourne, executive producer Dallas Austin, singers JC Chasez, Joe, and Blu Cantrell, and choreographer Glenda Morton.

The show recaps the basic story and characters and then chats about marching bands, the inspiration for the flick, the music, drum training, and a few other elements. That makes it sound like the special includes lot of useful material, but it doesn’t. Tremendously promotional in nature, the program just touts the flick and remains exceedingly superficial. Fans might enjoy the behind the scenes material, but otherwise this seems like a fluffy waste of time.

Up next we discover two music videos: “I Want a Girl Like You” by Joe Featuring Jadakiss and “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love) by JC Chasez. Both mix movie clips and lip-synch performances with some minor plot elements. “Girl” seems decent but nothing special. “Blowin’” ups the ante with more elaborate choreography and a guest-starring appearance from actress Tara Reid. The tune from the ‘N Sync singer gone solo seems listenable but comes across like warmed-over Prince. Still, I’ve heard lots worse material than these two songs; I didn’t much care for them, but they were acceptable.

Lastly, the DVD includes a 30-second soundtrack promo and a trailer for Antwone Fisher. The DVD provides no ad for Drumline itself; in an odd move, you’ll find that promo on the Fisher DVD but not here. (Fisher doesn’t feature its own trailer – weird!)

While I can’t say I disliked the time I spent with Drumline, I also can’t relate that I felt anything terribly positive about it. The movie rehashes a tired old story and doesn’t do enough to make the worn out plot come to life. Some good acting and an unusual focus on marching bands help make it a little livelier, but they don’t allow it to transcend its origins. The DVD provides good picture and even better sound with a decent package of supplements highlighted by a fairly strong audio commentary. Fans of Drumline should feel pleased with this solid DVD release. Others with an interest in the flick should give it a rental first and see what they think.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4133 Stars Number of Votes: 75
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