In this story, very loosely based on his own life, Eminem makes his acting debut. This is the story of Jimmy Smith Jr. a white boy born on the wrong side of Detroit’s 8 Mile divide. With an alcoholic white trash mother played by Kim Basinger, a dead end job and a trailer park for a home he does not have much going for him. His dreams fed by Detroit’s vibrant underground rap battle scene Jimmy tries to find himself and his voice in the world. This is a well written story about courage and not allowing one’s self to become a product of your environment. It also deals with the issues of racism by turning the tables with a white man trying to break into the predominately black world of rap and freestyle.
The film does a very good job of conveying a sense of dirt and grime, with an inky dark look and subdued colors. The transfer is excellent with no edge enhancement and no noticeable film grit or debris. Even with the dark and grimy look of the film good contrast is still maintained with shadow details visible throughout the film maintaining the feel but, never allowing the image to become formless. Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format the transfer is excellent, and like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, will really tests your display devices grayscale capabilities.
As this is a film about rap and freestyle, I was expecting this bombastic audio track with oodles of bass. I was surprised to find that the music in the film was not overpowering, but instead very subdued. Sporting both a DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 (both tracks are equally good) audio track with a few interesting tricks up its sleeves.
There is a scene about a third of the way into the film where Eminem’s character shoots a cop car with a paint ball gun and then is pursued by the cops. I don’t think I have ever heard a cop car sound this real in a film before, I knew that it was the movie but, I was still getting up to look out the window to find out where the car was.
Also, the scenes featuring the freestyle battles are done in an interesting fashion. All of the audio from the DJ comes from the rear speakers only (you will quickly find out how much bass your rear speakers can provide) with the freestyle rap coming from the front and center channels.
Part of the soundtrack for the film is getting to hear the title track from the CD progress and change as we see Jimmy Jr. working on the lyrics throughout the film. The audio overall was excellent; if you are watching this film without surround sound you are really missing a huge part of the film.
For extras, we have two different making of featurettes; the first looking at the audio of the film and the other with Eminem on his own talking about the making of the film. Both of these are your pretty standard making of documentaries. Then we have the uncensored version of Eminem’s Superman video (contains nudity) and uncensored freestyle battles which are the auditions for some of the extras in the film. Pretty sparse for extras, I found the freestyle battles to be boring and uninvolving but, I guess if you are into rap music then you would enjoy them. The menus are decent scored motion menus featuring music from the film.
Watching this film you would think that Eminem had been an actor his whole life; when on screen he is absolutely riveting, conveying this dark brooding character. This is a film about inner struggles and it is conveyed in every look the Jimmy Jr. character gives. The story is very well written and engaging but, the film suffers some bumps and bruises that keep it from being a really good film. Nevertheless it is a good film, with a good moral message and is at least worth a rental and with an exceptional audio track maybe a purchase.