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Reviews & Ratings for
City of God More at IMDbPro »Cidade de Deus (original title)

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A great addition to the gangster genre

Author: eddsj from United States
21 March 2005

City of God is based on the true events of a young man growing up watching everything around him is destroyed. Families are changed and friendships are destroyed so that each character can escape the ghetto that consumes his life.

City of God captures innocence lost at an early age and spans two decades in Rio de Janerio. The movie tackles the hardships of living in poverty, a situation in which the only way out for many is to fight and steal. City of God has two main characters: Rocket and Lil Ze; the movie uses these characters to show that there are different ways to escape the ghetto. Rocket uses his brain and an eye for a great photograph. Lil Ze takes a completely different approach to escape, using muscle and weaponry to take over the drug trade in Rio.

Bráulio Mantovani does an amazing job of making each character three-dimensional. Each character is built with personality and attitude. There is black and white, good and evil. The movie shows the events that each character has gone through to come to a decision point that could change his life from that day on.

City of God borrows a lot of the ideas and techniques from American films. The gangster motif is something that has been done in the United States for over eighty years. Drawing from modern American hits like Goodfellas and Casino, City of God takes over-the-top characters and puts them in adverse situations. A common theme in these movies is the obsession with money and what to do with it when you have it. A big difference between City of God and its American counterparts is how real the violence seems. There is nothing to glorify the killings that take place in City of God.

Another American movie that City of God pulls from is Citizen Kane. Just as in Citizen Kane, flashbacks are used to reveal the story and develop characters. In Citizen Kane, the technique is used to show what kind of man Mr. Kane was. In City of God it is used by the screenwriter and director to develop characters in a limited amount of time.

City of God has it all: a great story line that fosters the development of all the characters, the struggle to overcome one's past, and the battle between good and evil.

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10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

a horrible movie that I strongly recommend

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
13 November 2005

When I say "horrible" I am referring to the vileness of the characters and terrible images in the film. Technically speaking, this is a great film--with some of the most amazing and innovative cinematography I have ever seen. The stories are interwoven very well and the film seems so very real. It is so unfortunate at the film's conclusion you find out that although these are actors, the story itself is true. It's just so hard to imagine living in this hell on Earth in Rio. After seeing this film, there's no way I am ever visiting Brazil!! I'm sure many viewers feel the same way due to the absolute brutality of their slums where the police do little to interfere with gangs who run it.

FYI--there's an excellent and sobering documentary on the Criterion DVD of this movie about the drug problem in Rio in the present day. However, it and the film itself are very intense and bloody so I would not allow kids or even teens to view the film. It's really a shame, as most of the way through the documentary I realized it would be a great thing to show my high school world history class. But, the sight of a room full of naked teens with their penises a-dangling changed my mind!

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17 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Degraded perspective about degradation in a polished videoclip packaging

Author: Mashi69 from Italy
5 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My opinion on this movie has rapidly degraded as hours and days passed by. I too, as the movie progressed, got involved in the neat technical package, and violence in itself was not so disturbing... you know, we are civilized 21st century men! we love violence (when we are not directly involved with it), plus we love violent movies and this one, well,was just a punch to the stomach a bit harder than the previous ones. And then the story, ooh, it was so wisely penned! with that delicious ironic look à-la Tarantino to smooth the edges of the bullet holes.

But after a couple of days I focused my thoughts and decided that I did not like it. I found it disquieting. Not because of the violence and degradation depicted. I'm partially editing my previous comment just because I know that the average 20 y.o. boy (who is, I think the average and perfect audience for this movie) is not able to understand a subtler critical stance about violence in movies and only thinks "hey, violence exists so why movies should not show that?", and that's the reason why such a movie is currently ranked as the 18th best movie in the History of Cinema. Makes me think that when internet will be accessible by all 6 y.o. children, "The Lion King" will quickly surpass this pretentious movie.

So what's wrong with violence in THIS movie? It's the way that the director has chosen to treat it. Can you show kids aged 8 that roam through the streets killing light-hearted and selling drugs? Yes, it's not shocking to show that, it sure happens for real in some damned place of humanity. Can you show kids aged 8 who smell death with terror in their eyes (the real terror, like only kids can feel) before getting shot because they have crossed paths with some leading gang? Yes, it's horrible but it probably happens for real. Can you take all this nauseating stuff about our refined societies and bring it on screen packaging it like an MTV videoclip? big show, hip music, special effects, frenzied camera movements? Yes, you can, but you risk total failure in delivering your message. If Meirelles' and the like's intention was to point their fingers at this degradation and tell the world "Look at what it's happening! How can it be possible that we are not able to change all this?", and they wanted to attain this with the lighter feeling of irony... well, then they totally failed! With their opportunistic art they have just shown to be a mechanism of the social processes that lead to that same degradation.

How many of these "10 star-brilliant-astonishing-movie" people still bring in their stomachs the look of those kids after the coke and pop-corn have been digested? This is the point: this movie is just like a fireworks show with no moral queue, and the only sensational thing about it is the way it misses the real targets... politicians, police, businessmen and foreign governments. And as for the presumed realism... please, don't make me laugh: just learn that "spectacular" and "realistic" are antonyms.

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while still fresh in my mind.......

Author: ( from Columbus, Ohio
6 March 2003

Quite a gritty orange tinted vacation I had in the slums of Rio. I could almost taste the dust and feel the heat in some of the scenes. A bit jarring to have a story told in an order known only to the director but I dutifully followed along as it tied together and everyone connected.I'm positioned by the camera too close to faces of people in the apartment and I don't like the smell of fear and sweat. While this repetitive tale was overkill on murder and machismo,I don't complain for some reason. Perhaps in my drive-through bank and sushi world this is what I needed to see in order to understand life doesn't change in the city of god,everyone dies and childhood ends when you can walk and hold a gun.A going away party and then you die....

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The best Brazilian movie ever made !

Author: vitorpiovezam
17 December 2016

A film that portrays the life of the poor Brazilian class, mainly from Rio de Janeiro, portrayed by locals themselves, amateur actors and did a great job, many revealed to the great Brazilian entertainment industry. The film has excellent direction, fantastic subjective elements, and time does not continue in a single line, the director approaches different moments in different times of the film. Amazing. This film was a great revolution in Brazilian cinema, it was nominated for international awards, which for the Brazilian film industry was new.A great film to know the reality of the poor class, and the history of the city of God, favela of the rio.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Review for City of God

Author: Luke Peterselli from United States
17 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Following Review may contain spoilers for City of God

I saw on IMDb before I watched it, that City of God was number 41 on the all time greatest movies ever made list, but after watching it for a class assignment I can honestly say that it definitely deserves to be number 41, if not higher.

Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund do a great job at capturing the lives of the people who live in the City of God, a dangerous neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. None of the film is in English, but that did not stop me from being on the edge of my seat and enjoying the cinematography and acting that took place.

City of God mainly focuses on two characters; those being Rocket, and Li'l Dice (A.k.a. Li'l Ze) growing up in the dangerous neighborhood, infested by gang violence, drugs, and poverty. Both of these main characters are driving for different outcomes in their lives; Rocket wants to get out of the town as soon as he possibly can, while Li'l Dice gets caught up in the wrong crowd and wants to own the city by leading the drug business.

The actors in this film are not very popular actors that we know, but they bring such a great impact to the film, how some have an unfathomable lust to kill and rule, and others just want to live by the "rules" of the City of God.

The uses of different camera angles help give different feelings to the audience. During violent scenes it has the hand-held angles to make it seem very dangerous, realistic, and unsuspecting, while the use of structured shots help give it a documentary feel to inform the audience that this is what is going on in the small neighborhood of Brazil.

City of God was a fantastic watch that truly shows how some parts of the world have to live in this demeanor. The plot, action, drama, and structure of the film are such a great combination to explain the struggle of living in the City of God.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Goodfellas of the Barrio

Author: Nate Morrow
17 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

City of God (2002)  is a film directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund. Main actors include Alexandre Rodrigues (Rocket), Leandro Firmino (Ze), and Philipe Haagensen (Benny).

***SPOILERS AHEAD*** First and foremost when the movie starts off, I completely wasn't expecting this thrilling, "Goodfellas"-esque crime drama, with a dash of a coming of age tale thrown into the mix. The intertwining stories of all the characters and the way it is put together keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way until the end when you find out that it in fact it is a true story. The way the movie was shot was incredible for a few reasons. First, the camera work by cinematographer Cesar Charlone was excellent using hand-held shots for majority of the movie added the intense feeling the film is trying to capture in the Rio De Janeiro barrio. Charlone uses angles throughout the film as well to show people who are in positions of power during that part of the film. Second was the combination of film styles to create a unique and rich film with many aspects in it to keep you enthralled. There's the coming of age tale as Rocket tries so hard to find his way out of the life of a "hood" and leave the City of God and lose his virginity. As he is experiencing that, he is dealing with death, drugs, and organized crime swirling all around him that he is desperately trying to find his way out of. Ironically being in the middle of it all is what gets him out of it in the end, giving the paper he works for a unique aspect into the war that eventually comes to a fever pitch at the end of the film. From not knowing what to expect to being enthralled in a movie's characters, story, and film style, was something that hasn't happened to me in a very long time. 4.5/5 Stars. Great movie and recommend to anyone who's looking to be enthralled in a movie for a couple hours.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Favela... A Vicious Cycle

Author: Tom Stingl from United States
17 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tom Stingl *SPOILER ALERT* Directors Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund released the movie City of God in 2002 and is now known as one of the greatest foreign films ever made. Especially one coming out of Brazil. The film depicts the life of an average boy growing up in a fa vela and the birth of a tyrannical drug lord. This film utilizes the best out of the thriller, action, and drama genres of film, often times leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat for the majority of the movie and becoming truly emotionally attached to many of the characters.

The time line of the film works perfectly to tell the story, starting in the present time where we meet our main character who appears to be stuck in the crossfire between the police and a group people who appear to be citizens of the city. Just like that the movie sends you back in time to begin telling the story. Throughout the film the fourth wall is broken to explain things to the audience often adding humor to an otherwise serious movie. Throughout this sequence the Drug lord Lil Ze is born and eventually killed at the end of the movie by same kids he brought into his army. The film's final sequence is the children talking about who they need to kill. Starting the vicious cycle of violence in the fa vela all over again.

The acting in this film is truly impeccable and perfectly captures life in the fa vela perfectly. For example, many of the cast were people taken out of City of God such as the main protagonist Alexandre Rodrigues. So, he is able to play his role in the movie so well because he has actually lived this movie. This aspect makes this film so realistic that it is almost impossible to look away, forcing the world to acknowledge the problems of the fa vela, and hopefully is the catalyst for change to end this vicious cycle that is happening in Brazil.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A movie that DEMANDS your attention

Author: ryanmlange-69119
17 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a film that I have seen before but recently re-watched it again and really wasn't sure how the film would impact me the second time around, the film is quite shocking and hard to stomach at times the first time around so the second time the concern was there that it would lose a lot of its emotional impact. But only a few minutes into watching this film through its incredibly frantic editing, its almost hypnotizing cinematography and some of the most realistic performances i have ever seen, it was clear to me that this film would never ever quite lose the impact it so easily has on the viewer.

One of the particular standouts of this film is the action of it all, it is filmed and edited through multiple cuts and pans and even some distortions of movement with such a fast-paced and almost unfollowable ferocity that it gives you the feeling of disorientation that one would often feel if they were caught in the middle of a gunfight in the Brazilian favelas in which the film takes place.

And one more aspect of the film that i also find just captivating from the start the finish is the acting. All played by relatively unknown actors, it creates a sense of realism and makes you feel as if the events of the film can actually be happening to them, there is no Hollywood wall put up of seeing actors you know, this is your first exposure to the characters of Lil 'ze, Carrot, Rocket and Knockout Ned so seeing this characters with fresh faces and you automatically have this raw and genuine feeling of sympathy or hatred in some cases of these character.

City of God is a film that really sticks with you, it transports you into a place that almost doesn't seem real at times, it seems almost too horrific and scary to even think about. It introduces you to characters you could almost identify with the second you see them cause they are characters that are honestly just kids, that have dreams and aspirations which is what makes this film so haunting too, these are people who we could very easily be us. And the last thing that really sticks with us, the thing that really haunts me when i first and still watch it, its that this place, this place filled with the harmless joy of innocence but some of the harshest realities of drugs and violence, is real. And it exists to this day

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An amazing story telling experience

Author: tlc-82217
17 October 2016

The City of God is an amazing film that portrays the lives of those living in Brazilian slums. The film focuses on a boy nicknamed Rocket and his struggle of trying to live an honest life in a dishonest world. City of God is told as a culmination of stories that focuses on different characters throughout the film. Multiple times it introduces a character as someone who isn't the main focus of the story, but later plays a big part in a different story. This style of storytelling made the characters interesting because the viewer has already met the character and is excited to hear their story in depth. City of God also has really solid framing with the story ending in the same place it started. The use of flashbacks also help tell the story concisely and reminds the viewer of important details that might have been forgotten. The camera work in the film is a thing of beauty. An abundant use of hand-held shots makes it seem like you're actually there. The opening tracking shot was particularly impressive as it followed a wild chicken through the streets. Whenever a new place is introduced, there is a nice exposition shot so the viewer has a good understanding of where the scene is taking place because a lot of the slums can look very similar. The acting in the film is pretty good considering many of the minor characters were local children in the area with no acting experience.

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