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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "DrumLine" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein


Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 2002
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 118 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish

Half time is game time

I am asking every person now reading this review to
put some faith in me right now. Are you ready to do
that? I am about to recommend that you immediately
go out to your local video retailer and rent (or
better yet, purchase) DrumLine, one of the
most exhilarating films best "feel good" films I
have seen in quite some time.

Stay with me folks....this is as good as it gets....

You know, back when I was in High School (how many
years ago was that?) band members were never given
the respect they deserved. They were considered
geeks who couldn't compete with the more popular
athlete crowd. Drumline swings the pendulum as far
the other way as possible, making talented band
members the big men—and women—on campus.

The story revolves around Devon Miles (Nick Cannon),
a gifted drummer who has just graduated from high
school in Harlem and is heading down to the Atlanta
A&T University on a full music scholarship. Through
a backstory we learn that Devon has a very affectionate
relationship with his mother and a nearly nonexistent
one with his father.

Once he arrives at AT&T University, he is thrown into
a sort of marching band "boot camp" where Devon
becomes the only freshman given a position on the
front line of the drum section. His musical gifts
and charisma are appreciated by his Atlanta Pounding
Panthers bandmates as well as by conductor Dr. Lee
(Orlando Jones). But his cockiness and seeming
disregard for authority keeps landing him in trouble.

Through the hostility of his band mates, and the love
of a young woman (Zoe Saldana), Devon begins to learn
the true meaning of teamwork as his group makes its
way to the band championship.

On the surface, this movie plays out like a worn
Rocky or An Officer And a Gentleman film.
However, first-time director Charles Stone III has
taken this tired formula and turned it upside down
with high-energy musical numbers featuring amazing
choreography and blaring tunes. Favoring high angles
and tight close-ups, Stone presents the drumline as
if it was a hard fought battle taking place on an
open field.

Never before have I witnessed a film that has taken
such an unusual subject matter and turned it into a
high-energy spectacle that had me almost out of my
chair and dancing along to the music. When was the
last time a marching band gave you that sort of

How is the transfer?

Perfecto! Oh...you want me to say more?

Want to know just how damn good this transfer looks?
All you need to do is queue up chapter 12 and
prepare to be tantalized by color saturation you
never thought possible. I was absolutely awestruck
with the vividly bold blue and yellow uniforms of
the marching band as they filled out a school football
field. Colors are extremely hyped here, yet all of
it is accurately rendered. Black levels are rock
deep and contrast is excellent. There is not a hint
of grain or video noise anywhere to be seen. This
is as good a transfer as it gets!

What really makes this DVD kick ass is its
ultra-dynamic and well balanced 5.1 Dolby Digital
mix. Through its excellent use of surrounds and
low end bass, this film's soundtrack had my heart
racing as I felt as if I was placed in the middle
of a marching band. I cannot begin to tell you
how many times I caught myself stomping my feet,
snapping my fingers or tapping a pillow. Baby,
I am in percussion heaven and you will be, too!

Special Features

The film features a full-length commentary
by director Charles Stone III. I listened to bits
and pieces of this commentary that is a little
dully presented. The director often talks about
his geometric vision for his film, and how he
carefully designed his shots. The movie was filmed
in Georgia, and its surprising to learn that the
very-authentic looking Harlem subway station was
actually built on a Atlanta soundstage. Sadly,
its designer and builder passed away shortly after
the film was completed. Stone talks about some
of the difficulties filmmakers have when doing
many outdoor shots (as he has done in this film),
including making the sure the sun is in the part of
the sky it should be, as well as dealing with all
the various weather elements. A little dry, but
not short on information.

Ten deleted scenes are presented here for
your enjoyment. All of them are quite short, shown
in non-anamorphic workprint form (with synch meters).
Most of the footage is extended band rehearsel and
performance as well as a car driving lesson. There
is one in particular scene that director Charles
Stone III used to illustrate how bad a choice it
would be to use all-white band members instead of
black. There are also two alternate endings that
are pretty good, especially for the fact that one
of them reunites son with father. Enjoy!

The Making of Drumline is a 29-minute BET
Network featurette that's hosted by the film's star,
Nick Cannon. It's the usual fare that features
interviews with the entire cast and filmmakers who
talk about the central story and its characters.
We do learn that the film is based on the real-life
story of the film's Executive Producer, Dallas
(length: approx. 29 minutes)

There are two music videos included here:
I want a girl like you" by Joe, featuring
and Blowin' Me up by JC

What really irked me was the absence of the film's
trailer. Was there a music rights issue here perhaps?
In its absence, we get a trailer for Antwone Fisher.

Final Thoughts

While Drumline is a film you may have heard
little about during its release, it is a sleeper that
should awaken strongly on DVD. The film boasts a good
story, great music and a touch of soul.

It is absolutely the best "feel good" movie I have
witnessed in a long, long time. The DVD is also a
visual and sonic treat that will have you cheerfully
gazing at the screen while you tap your feet a little
too loudly.

Have I sold you on this film yet?

Release Date: April 15, 2003

All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality


Dec 19, 2002
This is actually a good movie? Wow...I had no idea...they did a horrible job marketing...that poster is dreadful...I thought it was another stupid teeny-bopper movie...

Tommy T

Stunt Coordinator
Aug 1, 2002
Ron I couldn't agree with you more. Not since Remember the Titans have I experienced a better "feel good" movie. My wife and I loved it.

A Definite BUY.


Robert Crawford

Senior HTF Member
Dec 9, 1998
Real Name
I was attracted to this film because I went to a university in the 1970s' similar to the one depicted in this film in which the half time show was at times more entertaining than the actual football games. I actually watched this film twice during it's theatrical run and I simply loved the film. This film actually did fairly good business at the box office. The band sequences are very well done and listening to the music in a large movie theater was a very pleasent experience. I'm really looking forward to this dvd and playing certain scenes over and over again.



Supporting Actor
Jun 20, 2002
I thought Ron went bleeping nuts when I saw what movie is "highly recommended"! But after reading the review... I'll still avoid this stinker. :D

Stephen Orr

Mar 14, 1999
We just didn't have the time to see this in the theaters earlier (it was out, what, three weeks?) However, we had definitely planned to rent it, but now it sounds like we may actually buy it, if it's re-watchable value is high...


Supporting Actor
Oct 26, 1999

I am very happy that you decided to review this. I saw this twice during its theatrical run, and I could not wait to hear the DVD reviews.

I can't wait to play the "final" competition sequence over and over.

This should, hopefully, satisfy my appetite for percussion until the "Rush in Rio" DVD comes out later this year (Neil Peart, anyone?)

Thanks again, Ron.

Greg S

Supporting Actor
Mar 13, 2000
Well I wanted to see it in the theater but never made it (afterall I think it lasted 2 weeks here in Richmond).

But being a former "Band Geek" I can tell you that Ron is right, we were always put down, laughed at, and simply insulted constantly. Its nice to see that for once "Band Geeks" can be looked at in a positive light.

Will definitely support this one on release date!


Bolivar G

Second Unit
Jul 9, 2002
When I saw the trailer for this movie in theathers, I thought to myself, you got to be frigging kidden me, what kinda stupid movies are they coming out with now.

Now Ron's review is making wonder if I'm missing something here now. Now I have Rent this movie at least to see what he is talking about:)
Thanks again for the review Ron.

Robert Crawford

Senior HTF Member
Dec 9, 1998
Real Name

Orlando Jones was very good in this film and he played his role very seriously without any hint of his prior comic performances.

Seth T

Stunt Coordinator
Dec 8, 2000
Awesome...I was in marching band in high school for 4 years. I played bass drum in the percussion section. I graduated 15 years ago and can still remember several halftime shows, road trips, playing at Expo 86 in Canada, marching in Santa Cruz, etc.

What I loved the most was the very start of our halftime show. We started the cadence while in the corridor outside of the field. The volume and echoes were incredible...almost gives me shivers thinking about it now.

My name is Seth, and I was a band geek.

Oh...right. This is a thread about a movie. I can't wait to watch it!

Thanks for the review Ron! :)


Who do we think I am?
Senior HTF Member
Dec 1, 1999
Gulf Coast
Real Name
Tony D.
i felt the same as some others in this thread...another dopey teen movie.
but i'll definitely give it a rent.

lennyp. have you seen this movie? because even after ron's review you still call this a stinker.

and one other thing. that pick with the 2 guys pointing drumsticks at each other.....it scares me how bad that will look pan and scanned.

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein

You gotta trust me on this. I asked you, remember?

This is anything BUT another dopey teen movie.

I can imagine how annoying most of you must think
Orlando is. The "making of" shows him in full
annoyance form. In the film, however, he plays it
totally straight. It's actually a very good acting

This movie is awesome! This may ssound funny, but
it plays a lot like 8 Mile in the way it
depicts two opposing teams of musicians who square
off against each other while strutting their stuff.
This is the most amazing display of marchers and
drumsticks that I have ever seen. It's beautiful
to watch and fun to listen to.

Rent it at the very least and then tell me what
you thought.


Supporting Actor
Aug 6, 2001

I was in band in the 70's, was drum major my jr./sr.years and YES, we were made fun of. Then I went to college on a full band scholarship and enjoyed the HECK out of band for my duration there. It was great fun, as I'm sure this movie is. We missed it during its theatrical run, and I'm really looking forward to the DVD release.
Thanks for great review.:D

Oh yeah, if you really want to see some serious band-type, DCI(Drum Corp. International)-inspired stuff and get really hyped, go see the closest live performance of BLAST or BLAST II:Shockwave or pick up the DVD of BLAST at BestBuy. It'll knock your socks off!

Greg Bright

Second Unit
Feb 24, 2000
Real Name
Gregory Bright
WilliamG wrote:
Oh yeah, if you really want to see some serious band-type, DCI(Drum Corp. International)-inspired stuff and get really hyped, go see the closest live performance of BLAST or BLAST II:Shockwave or pick up the DVD of BLAST at BestBuy. It'll knock your socks off!

Actually, when I first heard the name of the movie: "Drumline", I was hoping, praying that it was really about Drum and Bugle Corps, the true professionals in the marching/music pageantry business. I'll definitely watch the DVD, but knowing that it's about the Southern A&M-style of marching band performance will dull the excitement. If only it was about the Chicago Cavaliers or the Concord Blue Devils. William is right - Blast is killer music and marching.

Vlad D

Oct 24, 2001
Real Name
Vladimir Derenoncourt
Thanks Ron. I'll definitely be picking this one up.

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