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The Five Heartbeats (SE)
DVD disk
02.02.2006 By: Quigles
The Five Heartbeats (SE) order
Director:
Robert Townsend

Actors:
Robert Townsend
Michael Wright
Leon

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A singing group comprised of five young African American men becomes a big sensation.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Before today, I had never heard of THE FIVE HEARTBEATS, and even if I had, I probably wouldn't have even given it a second look. So color me surprised to find that this is actually one heck of a film, filled with great tunes, strong acting, and plenty of other minor pleasures. It's not perfect, but no movie is.

What I really liked about this movie is that, unlike more recent hits like WALK THE LINE and RAY, this is a movie with a whole slew of musicians, and not just one. This gives the picture a great edge, allowing the audience to gain interest in a number of different characters, each of whom is undergoing many difficulties. This also keeps the movie consistently fresh. However, if you haven't yet seen this flick but have seen RAY, then it isn't going to cover all that much new ground for you. The normal issues concerning race, drugs, women, etc. are all present, so if you're sick of seeing that on screen, chances are this movie won't appeal to you all that much. Another slight problem concerning the film is that it's second half gets a little melodramatic at times. Some of the negative things that unfold (which I wont spoil) require just a little suspension of disbelief, and I personally found that they pulled me out of the movie quite a bit.

Minor issues aside, THE FIVE HEARTBEATS gets a lot more right than it does wrong. It's consistently entertaining and filled with awesome music - what more could you could ask for in a movie like this?
THE EXTRAS
For a "special edition" (or "15th Anniversary Edition" as it's titled on the DVD), the special features presented here are pretty lackluster. There's a little good info to be learned, but most of the new stuff feels like it was recycled from the old stuff (and the old stuff wasn't that good to begin with). A commentary from Robert Townsend could've really done a number to boost this DVD up.

Bonus Footage (5:34): There are four clips which you can watch separately, or during the film (with icons popping up for you to click). Basically, these are a behind-the-scenes look at the movie's cut material. Each is filmed on what appears to be a basic home-video camera, with the actual shooting camera in plain sight on several occasions. However, the way in which the clips are presented makes them look as though they are just plain ol' deleted scenes (none of which are special, I might add).

Meet the Five Heartbeats (9:43): This is pretty much a character introduction, with the actors discussing the parts they're playing. Nothing special.

In The Studio (4:55): This is a pretty cool featurette where you get to see the singers behind the voices. This will clear up many of the questions you may have concerning the movie's music.

The Look (5:10): This featurette discusses what was done with the movie's wardrobe and makeup to match the time period in which it's set. Mildly interesting.

The Director's Process (11:03): This interview gives us the inside scoop about what inspired Robert Townsend to make a movie like this. Worth watching.

The Nomination (1:48): A worthless extra that shows the actors being in character before the "nomination" scene.

Original Publicity Campaign - Featurette (4:33): This and the below extras are recycled from the previous DVD. As for this extra in particular, it's not really worth watching since it doesn't address anything that wasn't discussed in the main featurettes.

Original Publicity Campaign - Robert Townsend Profile (2:28): This featurette is even less informative than the previous one. Skip it.

There are also 3 TV Spots and a Theatrical Trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you're a fan of soul music from the 60's, then I highly suggest picking this up. The issues addressed aren't exactly innovative anymore, but the movie still holds up very well regardless. As for the special features, they aren't all that spectacular, especially not for a "special edition", but if you don't own (or haven't seen) the original DVD, then this is still a DVD worth checking out.
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