The Central Park Five - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Central Park Five Reviews

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½ January 15, 2014
Worth the watch with there but there are a lot of holes in it.
½ January 13, 2014
A gripping documentary that is grim portrait of the American justice and where its guilty until proven innocent.
½ January 1, 2014
It's a vivid and gripping documentary (although, at two hours, somewhat longer than it needs to be), a grave indictment of a city and a system at the breaking point. I say SEE IT!!!
December 26, 2013
Brutal. Sad. Frustrating. Irritating. Simple evidence was completely ignored all for a very racially-charged indictment and prosecution. There aren't enough Law & Order episodes to compare to something this repulsively true. While longer than I believe it needed to be, it's still very well constructed and told.
December 24, 2013
Angering. Exposes the inefficacy of the US Police and exposes their racisim.
December 16, 2013
Much love to Ken Burns for shining a wonderful and important light on one of our nation's most recent and tragic perversions of justice. The documentary flips this highly-publicized charade on its head in 2012, by showing the humanity and personality of the wrongfully accused -- a treatment that the five rarely received in the aftermath of their arrests.

This film is of the quality and emotion that we've all come to know and love from Ken Burns, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
December 6, 2013
Another good effort by the Burn's family. Amazing how corrupt police and prosecutors can all but destroy lives for career advancement. It worked out in the end but not without lasting consequences for the accused.
December 4, 2013
Another documentary that will fill you with indignant rage.
½ November 25, 2013
Solid documentary chronicling the injustice behind the arrest of five youths after a vicious sexual assault in Central Park.
½ November 24, 2013
An affecting expose of a decidedly American tragedy. Should be required viewing.
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2013
The Central Park Five is a documentary I've had my eyes on for over a year, but just now got to watch it. Different than I thought, since it looked unbiased and two sided initially, but still lived up to my expectations. Five black teenagers are charged with a rape and beating they never committed, and are incarcerated. The interviews with these men are highly emotional, but the NYPD, the police department responsible never comments. These boys were fed a confession, and this is the importance of not just knowing your rights, but most importantly using them. The 5th amendment is a wonderful thing, police are experts at forcing out confessions, that aren't always true. Back to the film, I love the large sample size of those being interviewed. Never makes you exhausted of an interviewee, and ranges between lawyers, those accused, and a juror. The film has dark humor, but is overwhelmingly a drama documentary, and just with testaments could become a tear jerker for some.
October 24, 2013
Didn't really do it for me, but I can't say it isn't good.
October 21, 2013
Depressing as hell, but extremely important to see.
October 7, 2013
Bravo Ken Burns ... another triumph!
October 3, 2013
When I reviewed "In the Name of the Father" many years ago, I observed a "true-story" effect, where any story can gather more weight and meaning if it is based on a true story. Turns out that effect is even more pronounced in documentary form, if "The Central Park Five" is any indication.

This is nothing more, and nothing less, than a study of racial profiling, and how inherent it is in all of us, whether through the media or from the attitudes of our elders and peers. And, of course, the dire and tragic consequences of such attitudes.

It truly was an eye opener, and a film I think more people should see.
October 3, 2013
"The Central Park Five" presents the facts of the case with clarity, and it is a courageous, revealing look at the often complex and broken legal system in the United States.
October 3, 2013
"The Central Park Five" serves as a warning about legal incompetence, innocent lives destroyed, and a judicial system vulnerable to manipulation. The documentary details a nightmare scenario for five Harlem teenagers facing hard time, and the condemnation of America for a crime they didn't commit. The production sets the situation immediately, introducing the viewer to NYC in the 1980s, where Wall Street is in the process of rebuilding its reputation, while crack ravages the inner city, creating an explosive racial divide.

The film examines the infamous 1989 Central Park Jogger case, where a young white woman is brutally beaten and raped in New York's Central Park. At the same time, a group of five young black and Latino teenagers were quickly arrested for the crime and imprisoned. Following swift arrests by law enforcement officials, the prosecutors proudly declared the conviction as a step forward in the reclamation of a the city. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, all five are found guilty on multiple charges. Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, and Kharey Wise each spent between six to 13 years in prison, professing their innocence, while maintaining that it was a coerced confession to the crime. However, a chance encounter between the oldest of them and convicted serial rapist Matias Reyes, who years later yields his free admission of sole responsibility for the crime, and the claim is further substantiated with DNA evidence.

The documentary's approach seamlessly blends past and present, re-examines the assault, and walks you through what happened to the teenagers, from their arrest through their exoneration. Burns captures the complexity of history with startling results, yet "The Central Park Five" isn't quite as comprehensive as hoped, and fails to add anything substantively new to the story. Additionally, an element of balance is missing that would have turned a very good documentary into an exceptional one.

"The Central Park Five" presents the facts of the case with clarity, and it is a courageous, revealing look at the often complex and broken legal system in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the conclusion presented by historian Craig Steven Wilder: "Rather than tying [the case] up in a bow and thinking that there was something we can take away from it, and that we'll be better people, I think what we really need to realize is that we're not very good people."
September 8, 2013
I really don't like miscarriages of justice. If we cannot trust the police to do good police work who else is there to trust? I have no doubt things like this still happen. Surely there has to be a civil law suit against those who were involved in the case?
½ September 5, 2013
Very tragic story. Shows how much power the police have over young kids.
½ August 31, 2013
This struck me as a distinct departure for Ken Burns. Working with recent events rather than historical ones, the documentary is a little more traditional with less of an air of "wisdom" about it.

The case of the false guilty verdicts - which led to many years of unjustly served prison sentences - was actually less interesting than expected. It comes down to: some kids were intimidated into confessing. There were not many tricks, traps, or unexpected turns - except for the surprise confession many years later which led to the overturn of their conviction.

We do get a sense of how a bunch of kids were rounded up - and then, by happening to be held when the discovery of am especially violent rape was discovered, become the arbitrary focus of all subsequent investigations. Yet, without the cooperation of anyone in the police force or prosecution, we get little insight into the politics of how this pressure came.

When I was a teen, I once picked up a book on legal first aid (geared to people who might be arrested at demonstrations). The most important advice, which should be handed down from parent to child is always: *Always retain your right to remain silent. Never talk to police without an attorney present*
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