8 MILE Blu-Ray Review

     April 11, 2009

Written by Nico

The film 8 Mile gets its name from the road that separates the black and white communities in Detroit. Understand this, the movie has a lot to do with race.

Jimmy “B-Rabbit” is a young white male fighting to gain respect in a black-dominated Detroit rap community. His friend and supporter Future wants us to believe he’s a rap prodigy. During a rap battle at The Shelter, Rabbit freezes, bringing about endless taunts from the crowd and his competition. In addition to this, Rabbit isn’t having a good go at things elsewhere. He just broke up with his girlfriend and had to move back in with his mother Stephanie and younger sister in the trailer park. The car his mother lovingly gives him barely runs and he has to deal with a former high school classmate sticking it to his mom. He skates on thin ice with his boss at Detroit Stamping, where he makes car bumpers. He dreams of recording a demo and escaping this life. Promise of a demo comes from local promoter Wink as does the promise of a relationship in the form of model wannabe Alex, but eventually Rabbit realizes if he wants something to happen in his life, he’ll have to do it himself. Rabbit takes a hard physical beating at the hands (and feet) of rival rap crew the Leaders of the Free World and returns to the stage at the Shelter for a chance at rap battle revenge and redemption. “Lose Yourself”, the Oscar winning song for the movie, drops throughout the film in bits and pieces as a look inside the mind of an artist creating.

Eminem turns in a tortured and effective performance as Jimmy/Rabbit. Though more inspired by than based on his real life, Eminem makes Rabbit’s frustrations tangible and he clearly was able to re-connect with the struggling rapper he once was. Kim Basinger (LA Confidential, Batman) turns in a solid showing as his struggling mother Stephanie. While Rabbit hopes to rely on his word skills to propel him to a new life, his mother latches on to a man who doesn’t treat her well with the hopes that he will someday come through. When both characters realize they have to do things themselves, there is a beautiful moment of understanding between mother and child. Brittany Murphy (Sin City, Clueless) brings her usual charm to the role of Alex who, unlike Rabbit, compromises her morals to move ahead. It’s amazing how Rabbit’s crew reflects the different aspects/possibilities within his character. While Future (Mekhi Phifer – ER, Dawn of the Dead) is Rabbit’s strength and belief in self, Cheddar Bob (Evan Jones – October Road, Jarhead) is more of a cautionary tale of a misguided white boy. Two brothers Sol George and DJ Iz, Omar Benson Miller (Eleventh Hour) and De’Angelo Wilson respectively, round out Rabbit’s crew and give voice to the carnal and spiritual needs. Anthony Mackie (Notorious, Million Dollar Baby) brings Rabbit’s personal Apollo Creed, Papa Doc, to the screen. Eugene Byrd (Bones, Crossing Jordan) gives slimy, slippery life to promoter Wink.

Curtis Hanson doesn’t give the audience an easy, happy ending. If anything, I’d equate the feeling at the end of this film to Rocky. Rabbit’s journey is still in progress, but we leave the film with the promise of hope on the horizon. He’s on the path to shape up his life, but there are no simple solutions. It would be easy to instantly thrust him into stardom, but this more reserved ending gives the audience something better than wish fulfillment, it rings of truth.


Audio options include English, Spanish and French all in 5.1 DTS with optional subtitles in those languages as well. The film is presented in its theatrical 2.35:1 widescreen format. Chapter Selection is featured.

The Making of 8 Mile — 10 minutes of interviews with Curtis Hanson, Brian Grazer, Mekhi Phifer and, man of the hour, Eminem spliced with music and clips from the film.

Exclusive Rap Battles — Uncensored — Curtis Hanson talks about the rap battles, defining them, and Eminem speaks on the importance of them. Hanson also talks about the crowd of extras assembled as spectators. Impromptu rap battles started to spring up amongst the spectators and Hanson staged a competition between about 140 of them. The first round gave them 15 seconds in front of the judges, including a local rapper and Eminem’s representative. Narrowed down to twenty competitors, the final votes (the crowds and Hanson’s) decided the winners. This is a rare, raw look at the rap battles central to the film. The four winners take part in rap battles for the film (not originally in the script or the schedule). Eminem actually battles the four winners hosted by Future (Phifer). This is a solid mix of deleted scene and documentary.

Superman” Music Video — Uncensored — self explanatory, but the uncensored means you get to see breasts in the video in addition to the language.

The disc highlight for me was the rap battles because it turned out to be more than expected. I would’ve loved a commentary by Hanson or Eminem – ideally both.


8 Mile is an earnest, semi-biographical look at the emergence of a rapper and, specifically, a young man realizing what it really takes to attempt to make it. While the Blu-Ray version doesn’t add a lot of extras, if you haven’t seen the film, it’s the best way to check it out and if you’re already acquainted, it’s the best way to add it to your collection.


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