Cheap Honky Tonk of a World

For a movie determined to elicit a response from an audience with regards to nuclear war, Five is too reticent to show a truthful reality. Only a few years removed from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, either production studio Columbia or the budget didn’t allow for mass devastation. Driving through a supposedly obliterated city near Five’s climax, two characters wander in and out of perfectly preserved skyscrapers, with insides untouched as if nothing ever happened. All that’s missing are the people.

Desperate and minimalist as Five is, it’s also scared of the idea. But five people remain on Earth (or likely so) after global war, one of them an immovable Nazi, who even in this circumstance, chooses hatred over all else. A pregnant woman wanders helplessly through empty streets, looking for any semblance of hope. Others join, speaking of their own experiences that sound far more harrowing than anything Five chooses (or wants) to show.

Five doesn’t engage in strict realism, taking a generic social approach

The result is a plodding (if evocatively photographed) distillation of humanity facing extinction. Five’s drama doesn’t rise to the premise’s potential, lacking in character definition outside of broad archetypes. Protagonist Michael (William Phipps) is little more than an average face without personality. Roseanne (Susan Douglas Rubes), clearly written by a male, weeps and moans through most of the film, desperate to find her undoubtedly dead husband.

Five rarely shows hardship, the isolated population set on food, water, and shelter. Their struggles come entirely from within, disagreeing over a proper course of action. Mental strain wears on these characters, but to an ambient degree. Again, Five doesn’t engage in strict realism, taking a generic social approach, the same as provided by any disaster movie. Night of the Living Dead functioned similarly, but with greater subtext and verve. Those survivors in Five never face encroaching threats like shifting radiation. They just sit, talk, and discuss, hardly the epitome of drama or survival.


After double checking this is actually a Blu-ray and not a DVD due to extreme compression, Five can only look so great in these conditions. The imagery is rife with artifacts, obscuring detail from what appears to be a decent scan. Whatever grain is left disappears into mush though, the noise too severe and unacceptable.

The print itself looks wonderful. Hardly any damage or dirt appear in the frame, and the few instances that do appear pose no risk to the quality.

Without the compression, gray scale seems flawless, but the artifacts struggle to transition between various shades. That leaves mid-tones murky, reduced to mush. High contrast and solid black levels hit their marks, but it’s wasted balance, and banding appears often.


Flat, lifeless DTS-HD mono is thankfully free from damage. Five doesn’t exhibit any egregious popping or static. What the screechy score lacks in fidelity, it makes up for in stability. Flat, messy dialog doesn’t leave any impression beyond the audible age.



Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 33 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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