Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
8 Mile has an exceptional cover in my opinion. B Rabbit (Eminem) is shown writing down his rap lyrics on his hand, dressed head to toe in heavy hip-hop garb. It is a great looking photo, and it tells the whole story with one image. I thought the cover was perfect for this film, and done in an artistic manner. They could have opted for a full on face shot of Eminem to oversell this movie, but this image is subtle, and striking at the same time. Very well done.
The menu is quite well done also. It is a sharp looking menu with clips from the movie playing over B Rabbit rapping. It is on a black background, and it goes with the gritty feel f the movie itself. Again, striking and not dumbed down at all.
- The Making Of 8 Mile – The making of feature is your basic commercial style puff piece. It was about 10 minutes long, and features interviews with Eminem and Director Curtis Hanson about things like how the name for the movie was chosen, and the fact that the two come from different worlds, and had to trust each other to make the film work. Pretty generic stuff really.
- Uncensored Rap Battles – This was my favorite extra in the (small) bunch. This 24 minute extra showed how director Curtis Hanson decided to get some of the extras involved in the movie to compete in their own rap battles, just like the movie. During filming at the “shelter,” Hanson decided that to energize everyone, he would hold a rap battle, where the extras could compete for a shot to battle against Eminem for a possible spot in the movie. This showed some of the performances, and described the event. A very cool idea, and a fun extra to watch.
- Uncensored Superman Music Video – This is basically just a music video for Eminem’s Superman song. This is the unrated version, and it is fun to watch for the most part. A nice inclusion for fans of Eminem, but the song was not one of the ones in the movie, but was instead on his CD the Eminem Show. The video features porn star Gina Lynn.
The Movie: 8/10
8 Mile is one of those films that has very few plot twists or hidden agendas. It is a semi-biographical story that parallels the rise of rapper Eminem, who made it big after growing up in Detroit. The movie itself features Eminem playing B Rabbit, a street kid who starts off the movie entering a local rap battle, where he will attempt to show his skills by rapping against opponents, only to be judged by the audience. Rabbit ends up choking in front of the crowd, while his close friends watch on in horror as the white kid who they have been talking up fails to bring his A game.
B Rabbit’s friends include Future (Mekhi Phifer), who hosts the rap battles at the shelter, a tough, run down spot where the weekly battles take place. The entire setup for the movie takes place in the dreary, run down city of Detroit, in the mid 1990’s. The feeling of poverty and despair is evident throughout the movie, and it really adds to the tension as each of the characters struggles to find a way out of their surroundings.
B Rabbit has to refocus after the humiliation of choking onstage, and while his 313 crew still believe in him, he is forced to deal with his feelings basically alone. He moves back into his mom’s trailer, which he tries to hide from others. His mom (Kim Basinger) is a deadbeat, who is living with a guy who went to school with Rabbit, and is awaiting a settlement check from a car accident. His mom sees this as her ticket out of Detroit, and when tensions run high between Rabbit and his mom’s boyfriend, Rabbit is blamed for blowing her chance to get out. Add to this the fact that B Rabbit’s little sister Lilly lives in the trailer also, and is left fending for herself most of the time, and the problems continue to rise.
The movie turns into a journey in which Eminem’s character realizes that he has to make his own way, and take the opportunities that emerge before him. He meets Alex (Brittany Murphy) who is trying to get out of Detroit through modeling, much like he is trying to use music to escape. A romance kind of ensues, but it is a strange and distant romance that abruptly comes to an end. Finally, B Rabbit decides that he must face his fears and try to prove himself in the next rap battle, where he is forced to deal with his fears, and the opposing crew as he takes matters into his own hands.
I really enjoyed 8 Mile, and I think I was one of 12 people in the United States who had not seen the movie prior to it coming out on Blu-ray. The acting for the most part was pretty decent, with Eminem turning in a surprisingly legitimate leading role (albeit one that he may be used to playing – himself for the most part.) The rest of the cast was pretty solid, but I feel that I have to say that the Kim Basinger mother role just did not work for me. I can’t quite put my hand on it, but she just seemed to overdo it, or she was not a good fit. I just felt it was not a good fit, while the rest of the cast was pretty believable.
I liked the story even though it was absurdly predictable, and while the feel and look of the film was great, I wondered if we were going to see any more exploration of how a white rapper was going to be treated in an African-American Detroit. I was sorely disappointed to see that it was almost glanced over, instead of being either explained or evaluated to a deeper extent.
8 Mile is a fun movie, and one that really shows that Eminem is a real entertainer. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie, given what it was. While the story could have used a bit more depth, overall it was well done.
Audio & Video: 8/10
The video for 8 Mile was very crisp throughout the movie. The Blu-ray is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, and uses a VC-1 codec, on a BD-25 disc. It looked very sharp, even with the intentional grain that was added to give the movie a gritty feel. Lots of the scenes are presented at night, and the colors were muted, but looked great, and there was a great deal of dark greys and blacks. Overall this movie looked great. There was a good deal of facial detail, and the color scheme and the feel of the movie really added to the film.
The audio was really well done also, with the focus (of course) being on the music sets. there was strong use of all of the speakers especially in the rap battles, and the dialogue was pretty consistent throughout. I did notice a few times when I felt that the dialogue dropped off a bit, and was a bit hard to hear, but for the most part the audio, presented in DTS-Lossless Master Audio 5.1 was excellent.
I liked 8 Mile, even though I am not necessarily a huge Eminem fan. The story was a classic, make it big kind of story, but the hip-hop twist felt refreshing. I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys film, and is not afraid of a few curse words. I thought the acting for the most part was pretty decent, and while 8 Mile was a bit predictable, it was a fun ride.
Overall Score 7/10