I hadn't seen this movie in a long time. I've always been a casual fan of Eminem until about 2010 when the legend caught up to me. The man has real talent, and this movie is just more proof of the same. It's raw talent, and he's not Eminem in this movie either, but he's also not not Eminem in this movie. And it works, tremendously! The movie actually holds up pretty well all this time later. Even though the premise may be a little shallow for those who don't understand the importance of battling, the film is a powerhouse. Director Curtis Hanson paints so many beautiful scenes into this movie that it's hard not to enjoy.
What I love about this film is that it overcomes it's main star's notoriety, but also uses it to give you something to start with when Rabbit hits the screen. You know who he is and you sort of might know where he comes from, and then the journey goes off with the filmmaker showing you what people from 8 Mile think of him. From there it grows as each rap or battle becomes more intense, and more real. I love that throughout the film you hear chopped versions of Lose Yourself like it's coming to him during the movie and he's creating the song with you watching. The film has a very artistic touch in that way that it's shot and put together, and I really enjoyed that on the re-watch as well. It doesn't look particularly great in the Blu-ray format, but it has some good special features including a Making of and a BTS Rap Battle they hosted during the shoots and they caught some fun footage with Eminem.
After watching this again, I think that it's honestly the best movie about a rapper coming up other than Hustle & Flow. 50 Cent's movie came out around the same time and wasn't nearly as good as 8 Mile was. Eminem holds his own as a dramatic actor and despite being kind of quiet, drums up a lot of emotion in his scenes with the little girl Lily. Kim Basinger is great but feels somewhat out of place at times, while Mekhi Phifer is also outstanding as Future. Fun seeing early Michael Shannon as the man with Rabbit's mom, as well as Anthony Mackie's Papa Doc who is ultimately the main bad guy of the movie. So many great cameos like John Singleton as well (RIP), but I highly recommend this film to anyone who hasn't seen it! If you're a fan of rap you'll enjoy the movie, but I'd like to say that even if you're into a "down but not out" drama, this is a winner for sure.