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The story follows Danielle (Dani) Bolton, an upper class Brooklyn girl who defies her parents in order to attend a college in Atlanta so she can join - and revitalize - their once-prominent drum line. Dani's quest to become the first female section leader of the drum line in the school's history will be hampered by upperclassmen (including her cousin, Tyree), her feelings for fellow band mate and rival, Jayven, and the school's crosstown rivals.Written by
In the marching scenes, the way the video lines up, the band is sometimes marching on the left foot and sometimes with the right. Given that the music they were playing at the time was in a 4/4 meter, they would not have been switching which foot leads from measure to measure as one would when playing mixed meters, so this is clearly a syncing issue. See more »
The original Drumline was a surprising little gem, given its existence was mainly to propel Nick Cannon's career forward. The film was a touching film that showcased exceptional marching band choreography alongside a main character whose actions and faults were because of the choices he made rather than justified by the things he lacked, such as a father figure and a stable homelife. Given its pretty thin plot and foreseeable turnout, the film made arriving to that end conclusion fun, all thanks to writing that went above and beyond.
On the other hand, Drumline: A New Beat shows exactly the kind of film the original Drumline could've been if it was written without the themes and wit that made it a film to resonate and embrace. Caught up in a series of vague internet articles about the potential its creation and release - and whether or not its original star Nick Cannon would even be a part of it - before finally arriving twelve years after its predecessor, the film is a perfunctory mess of proportions that are unfortunately expected given its relatively low-key release on basic cable, with that specific channel being VH1 nonetheless.
The film revolves around Dani Bolton (Alexandria Shipp), an well-off girl from Brooklyn, who goes against her parents by attending Atlanta A&T University and playing in the school's renowned marching band over going to medical school. As a result, she's cut off in terms of finances and has to resort to getting a job, which is a big deal in the first half of the film but a nonexistent issue in the second half. Moreover, Dani's participation in the A&T drumline warrants her becoming one of the few female members of the drumline and the first female section leader, much to the dismay of the upperclassmen drummers; even her cousin Tyree (Jeff Pierre) finds his little cousin a threat and a potential distraction to the band.
This causes trouble for marching band coach Sean Taylor (Leonard Roberts), who struggles to maintain any kind of control of his marching bad amidst conflicts of interest between the marching band members. At one point, when the team turns violent against a competing team, he brings in Devon Miles (Nick Cannon), the now rich and famous percussionist whose roots began at A&T, for a pep-talk in the film's most entertaining scene.
The word for Drumline: A New Beat is incredibly perfunctory, as it feels like it is simply cycling through necessary emotions and plot points in order to move from point A to B in the simplest manner. Not to mention, the film has an usually brisk pace to its narrative. At the fifteen minute mark in the film, we are already watching Dani run into her first conflicts within the drumline at college, after watching her graduate, fight with her parents, arrive at college, meet her roommate and her friends, and get acquainted with the drumline in the previous minutes. The film moves unusually quickly, and tries to tackle far too many bases on emotional, conflicting, and relationship levels, including a terribly corny relationship between Dani and Jayven (Jordan Calloway), a fellow drummer.
Even the choreography in the film is decidedly-lesser than the original film, maintaining a level of interchangeability when the first film not only remained entertaining in the structure of its percussion numbers but its editing. Drumline: A New Beat's highest point in terms of musical performance and choreography is when the A&T marching band performs an infectious version of The Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," but even then, it's too late for the film to reach any level of buoyancy after the abundance of monotony we have seen.
Drumline: A New Beat's coffin-sealing nail comes in the form of how desperate of an attempt this feels at garnering momentary views and generating some sort of social media buzz. Throughout the film's premiere on VH1, incessant adds pop up urging fans to visit VH1's website to further promote or endorse the film, "#Drumline" appears in the corner of the screen for the entire film, and even the characters in the film feel like simplistic millennial archetypes, taking selfies at random times and playing on their phones throughout the film, as if they are their parents trying to remain relevant. The film feels like nothing more than a shot fired from a flare gun, attempting to make some sort of noise, if momentary, just to try and catch your attention. You have a choice as a consumer and a viewer; you can either give it unnecessary, unwarranted attention, or give your undivided attention to one of the many winning films in your local multiplex this awards season. The decision, as always, is up to you.
Starring: Alexandra Shipp, Leonard Roberts, Jordan Calloway, Jeff Pierre, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, and Mario Van Peebles. Directed by: Bille Woodruff.
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