Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Dec 6, 2012
    88
    The case transfixed a racially polarized New York City. The teens were labeled as a "wolf pack" by the news media, led by the New York tabloids.
  2. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 21, 2012
    50
    Ultimately fails to make its case that five teenagers were sent to jail for a crime they didn't commit solely because of institutional racism.
  3. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 13, 2012
    75
    Worth seeing, both for the ways it's timeless and for the ways it encapsulates an era.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 30, 2012
    91
    What we do see, among much else that is damning, are archival NYPD videotapes of the boys being interrogated by detectives who press them to implicate one another in exchange for a leniency that never materialized.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 29, 2012
    80
    It's a different city today, in a country that sees its racial and social divides with more clarity than it did back then. But the most troubling question the film raises is how clearly we may see even now.
  6. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Nov 20, 2012
    83
    This patient, righteous documentary by Ken Burns, David McMahon, and Sarah Burns recounts the story of justice undone (a serial rapist confessed) with extensive interviews, a thorough use of archival footage, and a less-than felicitous use of ominous-rumble music that unnecessarily insists, Isn't this an outrage?
  7. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 29, 2012
    80
    It projects equal parts fury and despair as it reveals how a particular group of individuals was caught in the unforgiving gears of the criminal justice system.
  8. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Dec 13, 2012
    88
    If the second hour or so isn't as strong as the first, it's because the filmmaking fails to rise to the injustice that's befallen its subjects since their exoneration. It can't, really.
  9. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Nov 21, 2012
    70
    Measured in tone and outraged in its argument, it is an emotionally stirring, at times crushingly depressing cinematic call to witness. It's also frustrating because while it re-examines the assault on the jogger and painstakingly walks you through what happened to the teenagers - from their arrest through their absolution - it fails to add anything substantively new.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 6, 2012
    88
    An unusually good documentary about an outlandish miscarriage of justice.
  11. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Nov 23, 2012
    75
    This is a movie about a rush to judgment in a city on edge, and it never expands its scope or meaning over the course of its two-hour running time. But the specifics make the story powerful regardless.
  12. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 20, 2012
    80
    The attention to detail is fine-grained, especially on the slippery slope of plea bargaining. Missing are two pieces that might have turned this into an urban classic.
  13. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Dec 13, 2012
    83
    If there's one thing missing, it's a sense of purposeful, immediate outrage. You can't help but wonder why this film wasn't made 20 years ago, when it could have saved these men some time behind bars.
  14. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 20, 2012
    91
    With an editing approach that seamlessly blends past and present, Central Park Five contains a fluid, engaging storytelling that does away with the dry voiceover commentary and theatrical music choices that typically account for the narrative flow of most Burns films.
  15. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Dec 3, 2012
    80
    Central Park is at first discomforting, then enraging, then illuminating.
  16. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Nov 23, 2012
    90
    Its greatest advantage over the book is that this is a story well-documented in moving pictures. In addition to recent interviews with the five, the filmmakers deftly marshal news footage, clips from the supposed confessions, and trenchant analysis.
  17. Reviewed by: Joseph Jon Lanthier
    Nov 16, 2012
    63
    Though relentlessly and admirably logical, the movie constantly glosses over the buried human element.
  18. Reviewed by: Casey Burchby
    Nov 20, 2012
    80
    Because the filmmakers were unable to enlist anyone from the NYPD or the DA's office to participate, we are left with the sense that mistakes of this magnitude require those in error to hide from them.
  19. Reviewed by: Alissa Simon
    Nov 19, 2012
    80
    Mixing a breathtaking array of archival materials with new talking-head interviews, the film analyzes the monumental miscarriage of justice repped by the 1989 Central Park Jogger case.
  20. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Nov 16, 2012
    80
    A meticulously reported chronicle of a case that shook New York in 1989 and remains a mark of shame on the city ten years after the convictions were vacated, the film incisively documents a travesty of justice that echoes the infamous Scottsboro Boys railroading of the 1930s.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Dec 2, 2012
    9
    I was fortunate to screen this heartbreaking film with one of the directors and two of the CP 5 - three really excellent people. In lieu ofI was fortunate to screen this heartbreaking film with one of the directors and two of the CP 5 - three really excellent people. In lieu of writing a full review, I'd just like to urge everyone who reads this to say only one when when placed into custody - "lawyer." By doing so, it's not like pleading the 5th - no fact-finder or judge is going to presume you're guilty of anything. These kids were absolutely bullied, but we can't assume that our government is run by angels, as Alexis de Tocqueville suggested - we have to protect ourselves. So if you feel you've been wrongly detained - don't say more than that single word - lawyer - until you've had a chance to discuss your situation with your legal representative, whether he or she is someone you or your family finds, or the court appoints to you. This is NOT the same as not cooperating with a police investigation when you're not in custody. But when YOUR freedom is at stake, don't hang yourself with your own words. The admissions by these boys - which were coerced - overwhelmed the jury and directly led to their jail sentences. I'm so sorry it happened that way. Again, when you're Mirandized, listen to the words, close your mouth, and ask for a lawyer. Full Review »
  2. Mar 15, 2015
    9
    This film is incredibly amazing. It was well filmed and made. One thing that really grabbed me into this film was the one-to-one interviewThis film is incredibly amazing. It was well filmed and made. One thing that really grabbed me into this film was the one-to-one interview sessions with five suspects. From hearing them talking about their experiences of being bullied by the NYPD to seeing their actual emotions through the screens was unforgettable. However, the stories that were shared by these five innocent men saddened me. I was very disappointed about the justice system in our country and I didn’t like about the fact that they were unfortunate to spend their entire youth in the jail for an incident that was not associated with them at all. Besides being frighten and mad about this case, I have grown a strong feeling about protecting our rights. If this case were happened in today’s society, I cannot guarantee if the consequences are going to be the same because there are so many controversial subjects that are tightly related to subjects such as racism, gender discrimination or just human rights in general. Personally, I believe the importance of educating young adults about how to stand up against for themselves because a lot of them might not be awarded that sometimes they have the rights to say No and speak up about the truth even when they are under the investigation. These five kids were innocently being bullied by the entire policy department, if it weren’t for other purposes, they would not end up in jail. Thus, we have to be educated enough to know about our rights and how to use them to protect ourselves from being in situations like this. Full Review »
  3. Jan 19, 2015
    7
    In the film, Antron McCray states that the truth will come out. It did come out. In the meantime these boys suffered injustice. These boysIn the film, Antron McCray states that the truth will come out. It did come out. In the meantime these boys suffered injustice. These boys suffered an injustice that could easily be experienced in 2015. In the news we hear of places like Ferguson and present day New York. We hear of police overstepping their bounds when it comes to interrogating. We hear of police brutality. There are those who say when you raise these issues you are speaking against the very same people who are there to protect you. That is far from the truth. Anybody who speaks out against these abuses are merely against those who are overstepping their authority. The vast majority of police are heroes. The vast majority of police are people we should be looking up to. Full Review »