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Eminem in a movie about rap music - doesn’t sound like a particularly tricky debut movie for the controversial rapper does it? The theatrical release of 8 Mile was received with trepidation from many quarters, but even so the movie soared to number one in the States and performed equally well worldwide. The most striking thing I can remember about the release was the fact that every review I read mentioned how positively Eminem performed, but even so, I wasn’t convinced enough to make the trip to my local multiplex. So fortunately with this region two release I now have the chance to see what all the fuss was about.  

8 Mile
Jimmy Smith, aka Bunny Rabbit (Eminem) is a young white lad, who is not having the best of times. Not only does he live on the wrong side of 8 Mile (more about that later!), but he is also finding it hard to keep a steady job. To top things off Jimmy has also just broken up with his girlfriend, which means that he has had to move back to the trailer park to live with his mum (Kim Basinger), and her grumpy boyfriend. Jimmy’s only salvation in life is his music, and in particular rap music.

Jimmy often raps at local clubs, but he has been known to get intimidated by people because he lives on the wrong side of 8 Mile. That leads me nicely on to what exactly 8 Mile is. Well, it is a reference to the distance between where the Detroit ghetto and the snobbier white suburbs are situated. If you happen to live in the middle-class white suburbs then you don’t get treated with respect in the rap world. For that reason Jimmy takes a lot of stick from opponents whenever he takes part in rap battles, which is a shame as Jimmy is obviously talented. His musical abilities are well known to his friends and several of them believe he is talented enough to make a career out of music.    

In order to become a star, Bunny must overcome his fears and also start to build a life which he is comfortable living. Things start to look up when he meets Alex (Brittany Murphy), who seems interested in his rapping abilities. With encouragement from Alex, Jimmy realises that he must confront his stage fright and battle the best local rappers on stage.

8 Mile
The underlying principal of 8 Mile owes a lot to the Rocky movies and films such as Karate Kid. That may sound a little strange considering that 8 Mile is about rap music, but the idea of someone struggling against all odds in order to win the greatest prize in a particular field is something that has been portrayed many times before. So, the true test is whether or not 8 Mile is intriguing and clever enough to pull off the revamped premise. Well the straightforward answer is a definite yes, and a large proportion of the success must be credited to Eminem. For someone who is making his movie debut, Eminem saunters through the film with the appearance of someone who has graced the screen for many years. It probably helps that a large part of the movie is loosely based on his past, but even so, Eminem is clearly someone who is supremely talented and will no doubt become a Hollywood star.

8 Mile is a good night’s entertainment. It is by no means a classic, but it managed to hold my attention throughout, due to its gritty plot and the stellar performance from a certain person who goes by the name of Eminem. Give 8 Mile a go, you won’t regret it!

8 Mile is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is also anamorphically enhanced. It’s fair to say that 8 Mile isn’t the most colourful film you will see this year, and for that reason it is hard not too be too critical of the transfer that Universal have provided. Most of the movie is filmed in the dark lighting of Detroit and the transfer deals well with the subdued lighting and blacks, which appear solid throughout. The transfer is impeccable as would be expected with a recent release, and there were no signs of edge enhancements.  Grain levels were also not noticeable and the transfer had a nice crisp feel to it. Universal have once again provided a transfer of noteworthy quality.

Universal have provided three soundtracks with this release. As expected there is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and also for our European counterparts there is also a Hungarian 5.1 track thrown in for good measure.

8 Mile
However, for this review I listened mostly to the crown jewels, which for this disc is the English DTS track. The DTS track had the slight edge over the Dolby Digital one, with clarity and overall effects sounding more precise. I wasn’t sure what to expect before putting the disc into my player, but even in my wildest dreams I would not have expected such an active track. That’s not to say that the track is one of the best I have ever listened to, but considering the nature of the movie I was left feeling impressed. The club scenes are well portrayed, with crowd chants whizzing around the full array of speakers. The musical score is also accurately portrayed and during several scenes my subwoofer got a good workout too. The final scene is particularly is worth a look, as I felt as if I was actually in the venue with Eminem! The only downside to this track was the dialogue, which at times seemed muffled (maybe that was down to my lack of understanding of the lingo or the speed they talk at!). Overall this is a worthy soundtrack and probably the highlight of the disc.

Universal have provided a release almost identical to the recent region one disc. However, strangely missing are Production Notes, Cast and Filmmakers Bio, and Recommendations. The first extra on this disc is The Making of 8 Mile which has a running time of just less than ten minutes. Much of the documentary is taken up talking about the meaning of 8 Mile and the importance of rap battles. Eminem emphases how important rap battles are, and how losing such a battle can destroy people’s lives. He goes on to describe it like a sport (boxing), but it is so much more intense. Interwoven between the interviews are several behind-the-scenes clips, as well as footage from the movie. As expected, Eminem is complimented throughout by the crew members. Apparently he acted like a professional throughout! Overall, this was not the most informative ‘making of’ feature that I have ever seen, but nevertheless it was pretty entertaining.

Next up is the intriguingly titled ‘Exclusive Rap Battle’. This extra starts off with an introduction to rap battles by the director and moves onto an interview with Eminem concerning rap battles, which also happened to be rehashed footage from the documentary mentioned above. However, after the interview the extra gets very interesting! The director of 8 Mile decided during the last scene that he would get the audience involved and decided to set up a rap battle between the extras, with the winner getting to battle it out with Eminem, and the footage would make it into the final cut. What ensues is footage from the battles which is amusing to watch, and also shows Eminem in a favourable light. Overall this section runs for around twenty three minutes.

This disc wouldn’t be the same without some musical content and that’s what you get with the extra titled ‘Music of 8 Mile’. Basically this is a section which gives you the option to watch music videos directly from the movie. So, in simplistic terms it is a method of selecting a certain scene from the film. Also, keeping the topic of music flowing is an exclusive Eminem Superman Music Video, which is far too rude to be shown on British television. To be perfectly honest this is not one of the best songs Eminem has done, and for that reason won’t be getting a second viewing from me! The video lasts for just over five minutes.

8 Mile
Towards the end of the extras list is the Theatrical trailer, which in my opinion is one of the trailers of the year. That may have something to do with the fact that it features Eminem’s ‘Lose yourself’ song, but it also does a superb job of promoting the movie. The trailer portrays the movie as inspiring, but also gritty, and I am sure it will persuade many people to watch the film.

The final extras on this disc are for CD Rom users and can be found in the Total Access CD Rom section. Included in this section are exclusive photos and exclusive videos, which are accessible if you install the interactual player provided on the disc.

At first glance 8 Mile may not appear to be to everyone’s taste, but I implore you to give it a go because you won’t be disappointed. The movie has been hyped up, due to Eminem’s lead role and a great amount of credit must be given to the musician because he puts in a performance of great aplomb.

Following suit, Universal have once again come up trumps with another quality region two release. The audio and visual aspects of this disc are top notch, and while you won’t lose yourself in the extras list (bad joke I know!), there is still enough content to keep you reasonably entertained. 8 Mile is a riveting, pounding and gritty drama which deserves a place in most peoples’ DVD collection.