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.