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8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
A great addition to the gangster genre, 21 March 2005
9/10

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.