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A squad of players, some 300 strong and armed with musical instruments, takes over the field, commanding attention with their stirring, spectacular display of choreography and musicianship. The football contest's controlled mayhem makes way for the blaring sound of trumpets and the heart-thumping rhythm of drums. Into this rigorous, ritualistic world comes a kid from a different culture. Devon Miles, a young, gifted hip-hop drummer from Harlem, wins a full music scholarship to Atlanta A&T University with the hopes of gaining a spot as a drummer on the school's renowned marching band's drumline. Devon, sporting a talent that is both raw and undisciplined, has one problem: He marches to the beat of his own drum. Surmounting overwhelming odds, he snares a spot as a starter, much to the disdain of a resentful senior class band member, Sean Taylor, who dismisses the freshman's skills as bogus. When Taylor discovers something amiss about Devon's abilities, he alerts Dr. Lee, the school's demanding, dedicated band director, who suspects that the upstart talent may have duped the school into awarding him his scholarship. That situation threatens not only Devonâ¿¿s future at the school but, more immediately, his spot on the band's drumline just before the heralded Big Southern Classic, one of the region's most popular musical competition, spotlighting some of the area's best college bands and the winner-take-all jackpot of $100,000 for the school. Now, with so much money, and possibly his own job, at stake, can Dr. Lee afford to pass up such a prize by keeping his star drummer on the sidelines?
For more about Drumline and the Drumline Blu-ray release, see Drumline Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Charles Stone III
Writers: Tina Gordon Chism, Shawn Schepps
Starring: Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana, Orlando Jones, Leonard Roberts, GQ
» See full cast & crew
Drumline Blu-ray Review
March on out and add 'Drumline' to your Blu-ray collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 26, 2009
Halftime is game time!
Drumline is a sports movie at heart, the field of play a regulation-sized football field, the participants donning their school's colors, in full uniform, and competing against the best talent in the nation. However, they do not march towards the end zone, wield a baseball bat, or play perimeter defense; instead, they march to the beats of a drum, wave their drumsticks in the air, and defend their honor against those that would show them up, those that would challenge them to be recognized as the best. Drumline hits all of the Sports movie clichés, featuring the raw youngster with a million-dollar talent but a ten-cent head; differences between coach and talent; jealousy towards the talent from another talented drummer; the budding romance with a rough patch in the middle of the movie; the talent's dismissal from the team; and his glorious return to try and win the day during the big game, or in this case, the final showdown between the drum lines of two rival schools. While Drumline may not offer anything new, it's just a blast to watch, clichés and all. The movie embraces the clichés, puts a bit of a different spin on them, and is unique enough, particularly thanks to the amazing choreography and pitch-perfect music, all of which make the movie not only watchable, but entertaining from beginning to end.
Hotshot marching band drummer Devon Miles (Nick Cannon, Day of the Dead) has earned a band scholarship to Atlanta A&T University. Devon soon learns that the life of a band member at the school is not all that different from other athletic programs. Tardiness, excuses, and poor performances are not tolerated; morning practices are the norm, and each student is expected to come together as a part of the team, leaving little room for individual glory. Devon is one of the most talented drummers the school has ever seen, impressing his classically-trained coach Dr. Lee (Orlando Jones, Office Space), but engendering a feeling of jealousy in his section leader, Sean Taylor (Leonard Roberts, TV's "Heroes"). While Devon impresses with his skills, he disappoints with a questionable attitude, a "me first" approach, a short fuse, and perhaps most detrimental to his future as a drummer at the school, a lie about his musical background. Devon is kicked off the team, but works hard to change his attitude with the help of his newfound love interest, Laila (Zoë Saldana, Star Trek, 2009), all the while being courted by a rival school. With the final competition, the Big Southern Classic, on the horizon, will Devon's attitude change for the better, and will his style have any influence on Dr. Lee and Sean, helping them come up with a plan to end the day as the top band?
Drumline may not be close to the best movie ever made, but it is certainly better than average. It's sort of like the little movie that could, taking a group of little-known actors, a slice of American sport and heritage that isn't popular in every corner of the country, a clichéd story, and a predictable script, and still managing to make a pretty decent movie out of what it has to work with, one that is entertaining, fun to listen to, and a blast to watch, particularly for the choreography and intensity of the band competitions. Likewise, the film's romance never feels forced or dishonest; the characters have good chemistry, deal with real issues, and share what plays as a genuine attraction and admiration for one another. The same may be said of the friendships; the band does come together, and despite disagreements, they remain a family, one of the key ingredients to a successful drum line. According to the movie, it is the sound of the line -- not that of a single drum -- that differentiates a solid performance and a championship-caliber band. Though there are messages in the film about the importance of honesty, friendship, loyalty, and integrity, it's not an overtly message-laden film. It's not even much of a feel-good movie; Drumline is just good, hearty entertainment that pleases the palate, goes down smooth, and is easy to digest.
Helping the film along are a few solid performances, particularly from Nick Cannon and Orlando Jones. While the script may feature many clichés, one area where it shies away from doing so is in the dramatic interplay between several of its main characters. Though the characters are not at all unique, their interactions generally are. The film features far more soul-searching and honest disagreement rather than an abundance of arguing, foul language, or tired-back-and-forth exchanges that are far too hostile and unproductive. First and foremost, Cannon's portrayal of Devon seems spot-on. Devon is a good kid, perhaps too cocky, but he possesses the skill to back it up. He harbors a secret, but not maliciously. He comes off as a stand-up guy for the most part, not always truthful, but not always sure of the difference between absolute right and absolute wrong. Part of that may go back to the shaky relationship with his father that the film only hints at, a relationship that, to the film's detriment, doesn't come full-circle, but only three-quarters of the way. Though it would have added another cliché to the list, his father's absence during the finale seems like a wasted opportunity. Orlando Jones's character is the complete opposite of Devon; he's a traditionalist, concerned with the art of the band, the history of the music, and definitely cares about the stringent rules and the ability to not only play, but understand the music, the legacy, and the purpose. To him, it's not about showboating, but rather professionalism and integrity. Of course, the opposing personalities clash, and each will have to come part way to make the band a success. Again, an angle as old as time, it seems, but one that Drumline embraces well.
Drumline Blu-ray, Video Quality
Drumline marches onto Blu-ray with a vibrant 1080p presentation framed inside its original 2.35:1 window. As usual, Fox has brought another film to Blu-ray with a quality picture that immediately screams "cinema" in its quality. It's another transfer that recreates the look of film at home, and while not perfect, it certainly does represent a high quality image. Grain is intact, but not noticed in abundance. Colors are bright and numerous, adding plenty of pop to the image. Detail is generally high, and extraordinary here and there; take a look in chapter 12, in the tunnel before the band's first halftime performance. The detail on the uniforms, and the headpieces in particular, is particularly stunning, as the textures of the clothing, the fine details of the hats, and the bright colors of the uniforms make for scrumptious eye candy, these visuals only eclipsed by the awesome sound that soon follows. A few select shots look a bit rough, and go a little soft, but it seems more a result of the film itself and not any transfer issues. Black levels are rock solid throughout and flesh tones never waver. All in all, Drumline represents another quality presentation from Fox.
Drumline Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Drumline throws out the beats on Blu-ray with an impressive DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. A fine sound presentation is obviously crucial to a film about marching bands, and Drumline doesn't disappoint. The film opens with a nice sense of being in a graduation ceremony, reproducing both the echoing voices that travel through the soundstage and the beats of the instruments that come through loud, clear, and thoroughly enjoyably. The rattling of a subway car off in the distance and the voices of the intercom in an underground subway station as Devon visits his father once again make for a pleasing, realistic atmosphere. The track seems to sometimes lack in volume at reference levels, particularly during the more mundane segments. Nevertheless, it positively shines where needed, during the marching band segments. There is nothing artificial or less-than wholly satisfying here, the experience is that of being at a live performance. The crowd noise is drowned out a bit in favor of the music, but it sounds absolutely fabulous. The highs, midrange, and lows all come together for some of the finest sound presentations yet on Blu-ray, particularly those that are completely musically oriented. Drumline goes to show Blu-ray audio is not all about explosions and gunfire; it sparkles here, perhaps even more so than most of the action extravaganzas. There is an uncanny sense of feeling like part of the band, or at least standing in the midst of it. Each instrument is heard cleanly and precisely, and the attuned ear will likely be able to differentiate each one. This soundtrack represents one of the finer listens available on the format.
Drumline Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Drumline debuts on Blu-ray with a decent selection of supplements. The film is available in both its theatrical cut and an extended version. The first supplement is a feature-length commentary track with director Charles Stone III, available only with the theatrical edition of the film. The director runs through the gamut of all the expected material, delving into his reasons for the look of the film, shooting locations and schedule, the performances of the actors, anecdotes from the set, and more. It's a rather standard track, neither all that memorable nor unlistenable. Fans of the film might want to give it a listen, though only if they have two hours to kill. Half-Time Heroes (480p, 14:02) takes viewers into the history of marching band, the passion and energy enjoyed by those who participate, the various styles of music performed, the intense practices, the dance routines, and how the film has impacted the marching band community. The Real Battle of the Bands (480p, 9:01) examines the intensity and importance of the real marching band competitions that take place in Atlanta. Anatomy of a Drumline (480p, 9:28) combines a bit of making-of information with a look at what makes a drum line tick. This set of special features concludes with four standard definition deleted scenes with optional director commentary and the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:08).
Drumline Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Drumline is forgettable, yes, and other than the marching band sequences, not all that noteworthy, but it clicks, and while it's on, it makes for a good time. The film features good performances, a decent story, and several important, but not in-your-face, messages on the value of loyalty, honesty, integrity, and friendship. Drumline delivers as a drama about a slice of entertainment that sometimes goes overlooked, taken for granted, and forgotten to history. For that reason alone, it's worth a watch, and thankfully it manages to fill in the remainder of the blanks and make for a solid all-around movie. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray presentation of Drumline is a good one. Both the picture and sound sparkle, and several supplements round out an impressive package. For a solid two hours of entertainment, there may be better options, but don't rule out Drumline the next time the mood strikes for something a little different. Recommended.
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Drumline Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Fox Details Antwone Fisher, Drumline, and Unfaithful - November 24, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has revealed the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of 'Antwone Fisher', 'Drumline: Special Edition', and 'Unfaithful', which are due to hit store shelves this January. All three titles will features 1080p ...
• More Fox Blu-ray Titles Coming in January - October 9, 2008
In an early announcement to retailers, Fox Home Entertainment has revealed a series of Blu-ray titles scheduled to hit store shelves in January of next year. On January 13th, along with the previously announced 'The Boondock Saints', Fox will release 'Drumline'. ...
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