8 Mile (2002)

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Released 15-May-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
dts Trailer-Piano
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Exclusive Rap Battles
Featurette-The Music of 8 Mile
Music Video-Superman-Eminem
DVD-ROM Extras
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-2 Fast 2 Furious; The Hulk
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 105:56
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Curtis Hanson
Studio
Distributor
Imagine Entertainmnt
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Eminem
Kim Bassinger
Brittany Murphy
Mehki Pfifer
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Eminem
Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Icelandic
Hebrew
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Loser Yourself during end credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "Do you ever wonder at what point you got to stop living up here and start living down here?"

    Imagine you've been ditched by your girlfriend (she's told you she's pregnant), you've lost your job, your mum's banging one of your old schoolmates and your car won't start - just some of the many trials borne by James Smith Jr. aka Jimmy Rabbit. 8 Mile marks Eminem's acting debut in this Curtis Hanson directed movie. Also responsible for LA Confidential and Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Hanson certainly knows how to hone an emotional edge to his films. Set in Detroit, the film charts the frustrations of Jimmy Rabbit, Rabbit because he's fast and likes to f**k a lot. It's a fairly generic tale of gangland goings-on where the dream of fame and breaking out of the ghetto keeps hope alive (vis-a-vis Saturday Night Fever, Quadrophenia or even Rocky). The quirk in this tale is that B Rabbit is a white rapper in a black man's world and has to compete and respond to the racial diss that this entails.

    The film opens at a  'rap battle' at the The Shelter club where compere and friend Future (played by Mekhi Pfifer in an excellent support role) builds up 'Bunny Rabbit' to compete with L'il Tic, rival rapper of the Free World rap gang. Supported by Future and his 'brothers' from the 3-1-3 gang, Rabbit prepares for battle by heaving his guts out, locked in washrooms that you would rather not see than visit. After 'choking' with stage fright, Rabbit gets booed off the stage with contempt by the crowd of blacks and 'spics. The film then follows the following week until the mother of all rap battles takes place against the champion 'Papa-Doc' of Free World. Along the way, tramp-love interest Alex (played by sexy Brittany Murphy), the brothers and Kim Bassinger as Rabbit's trailer park mama all put in fine performances played against the backdrop of a bleak, run-down Detroit and the New Detroit Stamping Foundry. The film gets its name after the 8 mile Road, so named because it is 8 miles out from the town centre and marks the boundary between the run-down ghettos of downtown and more upmarket suburbs populated by white trailer trash and the more salubrious areas and casinos.

    The plot is hardly complicated or involved, but what makes the film for me is its credibility and insight into an area of life where none of us likely want to or are able to go. There's plenty of sideline activity away from Eminem, whether it's the beautifully timed, plain dumb antics of 'spic Cheddar Bob, the home spun philosophy of DJ Iz or the wide-eyed innocence of Rabbit's little sister Lilly (played by the 3 year old Chloe Greenfield). There's no time to get bored and one can only marvel at the mental and linguistic agility of the rappers, many of whom are genuine. The story also parallels the life of Eminem who rapped, as the story goes, from the age of 4 and entered the Rap Olympics in Los Angeles in 1997 desperate to win the $1500 prize (he came 2nd!). What of Eminem? Well, aside from his obvious virtuosity as a rapper, this 'dawg' is one natural actor with a stage presence and smouldering intensity that is impossible to ignore - somewhat reminiscent of Russell Crowe, whose big break also came in a Kim Bassinger film directed by Hanson. I wouldn't be surprised if we see him in a few years again at the Academy Awards picking up another Oscar, this time for acting. The film is beautifully crafted and builds up to a worthy finale.

    For those concerned about the language - yep, there's every manner of sexual innuendo but I didn't find it offensive in this context - I just had to remember to moderate the jive when taking a trip to the local 7/11. There's a modicum of violence, but much less so than in many blockbusters of today, and the sex scenes managed to convey the message without being needlessly voyeuristic or explicit. When I expressed concern to my 9 year old niece that she had seen the movie she replied "sure - it's just like at home" (!).

    What's the message? I'm not sure if there is one but if there is, it's probably something along the lines of "You don't know me - so don't judge me" - an apt comment for the vocal moral minority who tried to interfere with Eminem's tour of Australia a couple of years ago.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is workmanlike and satisfactory for the purpose without being a masterpiece. Understandably, enough space has been left on this DVD-9 disc to do justice to the soundtrack and extras and this has inevitably led to some necessary economies on the encoding.

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The film is suitably detailed and sharp, but the main effect of economy of bitrate is in the shadow detailing which is frequently severely limited in the many dark segments of the film. I don't think this necessarily detracts from the atmosphere of the film, which is often smouldering dark and moody - I wasn't particularly bothered about missing out on the detail of the toilet bowl when Rabbit had his head stuck down it!

    Colours were often tinged with a green-blue wash of strip lighting or else muted by the night time shots or the bleak autumnal landscape of inner-city Detroit, but rose to the occasion suitably in the night-time fire scene or Chinese club.

    Encoding artefacts were very few and far between. There is very occasional aliasing, such as on the louvre at 14:31 or on the door at 19:08 and a mild degree of posterization on Alex's forehead at 40:19.

    The subtitles in English were really useful to catch the detail of the rap and dialogue. These were reasonably accurate to the spoken word but were displayed in a crude bit-mapped font complete with the jaggies. They were also available in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic and Hebrew.

    The disc is of the RSDL variety with the transition point noticeable but not intrusive at 65:48.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Well, the film largely features music so I'm happy to report that the soundtracks are of a high standard. DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are available - mind you, you have to go hunting through the menu for the DTS offering and ignore the warnings about having to have a suitable encoder. Those annoying PuPs (User-Prohibited actions) are encoded to stop changing audio track on-the-fly. Incidentally to all our Hungarian readers, despite the back-cover claiming a Hungarian 5.1 surround soundtrack, this does not exist on the R2/4 disc. I listened to the DTS track several times in its entirety and performed some A-B comparisons to the Dolby Digital versions. Both tracks are very good, but as is becoming increasingly expected, the DTS version offered a slightly fuller, more involving sound. Be warned that there is plenty of deep involving bass on all channels of this recording so owners of sub-sat systems take note.

   The dialogue was encoded well and clear although the local rap could make deciphering different to those not used to the Afro-Caribbean accent. Audio sync of speech and effects appeared on cue.

    Most of the music belonged to contemporary rap and hip-hop artists and probably only 25% is by the feature artist - which is worth taking note of if you go out to buy the music CD of the film. Anyway, it is superbly encoded and even some of the noise and crackle from the turntable of the hip-hop DJ comes over clearly but not obtrusively. I'm not an expert on this genre, so it really would be a waste of time me commenting on the artists, except to say that I was highly entertained by the rap version of the redneck classic 'Sweet Home Alabama". Of course, the whole film features snippets of the fabulous Lose Yourself and we are treated to the full version during the closing credits.

   The surrounds were used to excellent effect for atmosphere by way of sound effects, sirens wailing, toilet doors being bashed in or reverberation around the foundry. They were in no way obtrusive and certainly enhanced the listening experience.

    Not surprisingly, the subwoofer gently chugged away for much of the film and shared the load of the deep bass harmonics of the megawatt live music along with the front mains.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

  Plenty of good quality offerings here! Incidentally, although I had no problems navigating the menus with standalone players, I found when using a PC with PowerDVD that some of the titles failed to display, making selection somewhat akin to pinning the tail on the donkey.

Menu

  Animated clips of the movie in the same format as the main feature but with stereo soundtracks.

The Making of 8 Mile

    10:02 of interviews with Eminem, Curtis Hanson, Brian Grazer and Mekhi Pfifer on the philosophy of rap and the 8 mile.

Exclusive Rap Battles

    23:38 of the warm up sessions of the crowds at the shelter. As Hanson explains, after a few days the extras started getting irritable, so to spice things up, a genuine rap battle was held with artists drawn from the crowd and pitted off against Eminem who was originally supposed to mime a response until the diss started getting a little too personal ...

The Music of 8 Mile

    Useful menu leading to the 25 excerpts of rap used in the movie together with their title and artist.

Eminem Superman Video

    Saucy uncut version of the Superman music video featuring the vocals of Diana Rae and the fullsome curves of porn-star has-been Ginger Lynn (who caused a minor stir by claiming she indulged in a 17 hour 'session' with Eminem).

DVD ROM

    Hyperlink to 'exclusive' Eminem web-site. You have to install the InterActual 2.0 DVD player to access this so I didn't bother, as you can just go straight to the web site now http://www.8-mile.com.

Theatrical Trailer

    Good quality 2:17 trailer in 6 channel sound and widescreen video.

Previews

    Short preview features of the movies 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Hulk

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The movie content and quality of the R1 and R4 versions seems identical, the only differences being in the video format (NTSC/PAL) and the extras.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     Both versions are equally good, and so unless you have an overwhelming desire to have a French or Spanish soundtrack there's no compelling reason to import the R1 version.

Summary

    I really enjoyed this movie, superbly crafted by Curtis Hanson and well acted by all concerned. I'd probably limit viewing to the late teens and above and not expose those whose moral indignation is aroused by a few 'F' words.

    The video quality is good, mildly compromised by the inclusion of extras and 2 surround soundtracks.

    The audio quality is superb, and is of reference quality.

    The extras are plentiful and of good quality and interest, giving some useful background info on the film

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDEAD 8000 Pro, using Component output
DisplayNEC MP3. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTheta Digital Intrepid
SpeakersML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.

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Comments (Add)
A minor amendment to your review and my comments ... - Bradavon REPLY POSTED
4 stars for extras? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
just an inquiry - Geoff (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
great film - Johnny Wadd (i am bionic)