The much hyped and praised film that put rap-star Eminem in his first major motion picture (and, as of this writing, his only once since) is finally making its way to the Blu-ray format after a couple months of delay. While previous owners of the DVD won’t find anything new on the set, fans will be able to witness the film in high-definition video and audio that brings to life the underground rap scene like never before. With an Oscar under its belt for best original song (“Lose Yourself”), 8 Mile earned plenty of critical acclaim during its original release, but the film has slowly floated away without much recognition since, despite reeling in a hefty $242 million dollars worldwide in box office sales alone.
“Eminem wins by a knockout!” raves Rolling Stone, as the Grammy Award-winning phenomenon makes his feature film debut in this gripping story about the boundaries that hold us back – and the courage that can set us free. For Jimmy Smith, Jr. (Eminem), life is a daily fight just to keep hope alive. Feeding his dreams in the city’s vibrant music scene, Jimmy wages an extraordinary personal struggle to find his own voice – and earn a place in the world where rhymes rule, legends are born and every moment…is another chance. From Academy Award® -winning director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) and Academy Award® – winning producer Brian Grazer (A Beautiful Mind), 8 Mile is the triumphant film Time Magazine hails as “Powerful!” and Entertainment Weekly applauds as “Electrifying” and “Mesmerizing!”
It’s hard not to watch 8 Mile and wonder how much of it came out of an experience from Eminem’s own life. In fact, that’s all I could really think of while watching it—exactly where did the non-fiction end and the fiction begin? It’s clear that Eminem was involved with the film due to his life and personal experience he could bring to the role, but honestly if it wasn’t him as the star of the film, I question just how popular this film would’ve been. It may also explain why the film has kind of faded away with little reference of it anymore (the 50 Cent movie that was released a year or so later that told roughly a similar story was about as close as we got to someone bringing up 8 Mile again), as Eminem has been largely out of the spotlight for several years now as well.
Of course that’s just all speculation. The real reason it probably hasn’t been talked about is because it really just wasn’t all that strong of a film. Yes, the story was compelling, the acting was good and we ultimately see the good guy win in the end, but the film really brings no closure to any of it. Are we to assume that Eminem’s character eventually became a giant rap star after he defeated his rival? It’s just kind of an empty film when it comes to wrapping itself up, but that really doesn’t even keep it from resonating with the viewer afterwards. You’re just left with a feeling that you got a glimpse into some guys life and we knew little of what his life was like before the film and what it was like after it.
Really, the film is only given extra life during it due to Eminem. I’m not a giant fan of his, but I have listened to his CDs over the years and his talent is unquestionable. Not to mention he really acted the hell out of this film—if there was any reason to watch this film, then this is it. I mean hell, he never really acted before and there he was, out-acting Oscar winner Kim Basinger. Of course that’s not too hard to do (nothing against Basinger, she just seems to always play the same character), but still it’s definitely an impressive performance. Everyone involved here really brought the characters to life in a way that made them three-dimensional, although that doesn’t necessarily mean they were always interesting.
8 Mile is a rather entertaining film for what it’s worth, but it really doesn’t leave you with much. It keeps you wrapped up in its story for the two hours it runs, but by the time it’s over you aren’t given anything to chew over. A simple story if there ever was one, 8 Mile is really only worth repeat visits if you’re a fan of Eminem, as it really was his vehicle to shine in. Still worth a Rental for those that haven’t seen it, but this isn’t a film that I can see many people needing to own.
You can tell this was a title that was supposed to be released awhile ago—it still features the reflective foil shiny cover that Universal Blu-ray’s used to carry (now they’ve been downgraded to a lighter shade of blue). The case it arrives in is a standard Elite Blu-ray case complete with the first insert that Universal included with the releases (the one with Serenity sporting its original DVD/HD-DVD releases cover). Menu is the usual “blade” system.
Video arrives in the form of a VC-1 encoded transfer and, as you’d expect from a fairly modern effort, it looks great. The washed out colors of Detroit are nicely toned on the transfer, as is the grain levels that accompany nearly every frame of the film. It’s a strong transfer from beginning to end and one that definitely makes the film look as good as it ever will. The audio, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix literally thumps the room from the beginning, with plenty of bass output for the rap soundtrack. There’s little else in terms of the 5.1 mix to get excited about, however; the occasional machine shop sounds will sound in the surrounds, but for the most part the film is focused in the front channels.
With all of the delays this release saw I thought maybe they’d thrown on some new extras, but…no dice. What we get here are the same as the previous DVD releases and in standard definition to boot, so absolutely nothing to write home about. The first extra is The Making Of (10:02) which gives us a brief glimpse into the production of the film. Exclusive Rap Battles – Uncensored (23:39) shows off some more rap battles that made the film so entertaining and finally “Superman” Music Video – Uncensored (5:02) for some reason. Why is this video included here? I mean I know it’s Eminem and all, but it doesn’t even have anything to do with the movie…
Overall a standard release and not one to get too excited about. If you enjoyed the film and want to see it in high-definition…well, that’s just about the only reason to pick this one up. A Rental for those who haven’t seen it, but otherwise you can skip this one when it (finally) hits shelves.
8 Mile arrives on Blu-ray on April 14th.