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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.33%
Average: 1.67%
Pretty Bad: 2.5%
Total Crap: 3.33%

5 reviews, 90 user ratings

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City of God
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by Mark Rodger-Snelson

"Nothing short of brilliant."
5 stars

City of God is an exceptional movie set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro in the late 60s through to the 70s. The slums were created by authorities in an effort to move the troublesome and unsightly poor people away from the city centre. It is the story of Rocket, one of the slums inhabitants and his determination to rise above poverty without resorting to crime, which is a way of life for all of those around him.

Rocket narrates the film and is introduced just as he is about to start a career in photo-journalism. The rest of the movie is told in flashback and is the story of how he arrived at this point in his life.

Crime is the only way to make a decent living in the slums of Rio. There is no chance of a decent education and the pay rates for ordinary work are devastatingly low. City of God follows various gang members as they move through the ranks from petty criminals through to fearsome drug dealers. One of the most chilling of these characters is Lil Ze who will kill at the blink of an eye and has been taking pleasure in doing so since he was a child. The age of these kids is one of the most disturbing aspects of the film – as a gang war escalates, children who look no older than 10 are seen taking arms.

The movie is an adaptation of a novel by Paulo Lins, who grew up in the City of God. He says it is based on the life of photographer Wilson Rodriguez, a famous Brazilian photographer. The subject matter is obviously close to the heart of director Fernando Meirelles who has made this film with such an intense passion – the like of which are rarely seen in movies today.

Technically City of God is amazing. It is a visual feast of vibrant colours, whirling cinematography and rapid fire editing. Many critics have made comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas in its style and theme. But it needs to be taken into account that Goodfellas was well into the career of a very successful director backed by big name actors as well as big bucks. City of God is the first time that Meirelles has gained international attention and he gives us an equally effective and definitely more realistic movie on a much lower budget, with a cast of unknowns from the heart of Brazil which is an outstanding achievement. Fernando Meirelles is definitely a name to watch

City of God is violent and at times shocking, but not without purpose. It carries a strong social and political message as well as being an inspirational tale about rising up against all odds. Definitely a contender for film of the year, City of God is nothing short of brilliant.

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originally posted: 11/02/04 23:29:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/10/19 h g 5 stars
12/29/17 morris campbell good foreign cinema 4 stars
3/02/12 stanley welles an insight into a horrifying wonderland 5 stars
10/18/10 Vijaya Bhaskar It's a superb film... 4 stars
8/10/09 S.Satish A very realistic film. Leaves an impression in your mind fow few days! 5 stars
4/01/09 R.W. Welch Excess body count strains credulity, but pro work otherwise. 4 stars
10/07/08 C Lemon Amazing film and the documentary extra on the dvd is even more compelling and worth a look! 5 stars
9/28/08 Dipesh Dhakal( A perfect movie, stainless acting, spellbinding performance and stirring visuals. 5 stars
8/18/08 jonathantstorm best film ever 5 stars
8/09/08 snakeeyes Cinema doesn't get more exhilarating than this 5 stars
10/12/07 scotty One of the Greatest Films of All Time!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/16/06 Cat This should be on the top of anyones movie lists! A must see. Brilliant. 5 stars
4/30/06 Agent Sands Deserving of every bit of praise it's gotten. A truly amazing epic. 5 stars
3/15/06 Naka One of the best films I've ever seen. And that's that. 5 stars
11/22/05 Erick Echeverria it was something that made me realize a lot of things. 5 stars
10/17/05 DM Breathtaking, brilliantly directed and smoothly edited. 5 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Riveting technique, yes, but also deeply compassionate. Hollywood could not do this. 5 stars
7/13/05 Tom A quality piece of cinema-a must see 5 stars
6/14/05 Lelani this movie was so well shot and all the actors did an incredible job 5 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands A major surprise. I was super-impressed by everything. 5 stars
5/24/05 J Barnes The next movie you need to watch is CITY OF GOD. 5 stars
4/20/05 Justin Whitebeaver the flim takes you on a ride to hell and back and makes you say hay lets do that again 5 stars
4/09/05 asher good 3 stars
2/21/05 Agent Sands A highly engaging, terrifically made film. And we never get Portuguese flix in America. 5 stars
12/30/04 Daveman For all its flaws, City Of God is a disturbing, honest and visually stunning film. 4 stars
12/21/04 Naka Will keep you glued to your chair and will haunt you long after you leave it. 5 stars
12/02/04 jlock Awesome Film. 5 stars
11/25/04 drfardook Yes it really is that good. All elements of the film are unbelievably well done. 5 stars
11/12/04 Andrea outstanding! Why can't Hollywood produce films like this? 5 stars
11/03/04 King James ignoring our prematurely ejaculating friend mike down there, this movie is STUNNING!!! 5 stars
11/03/04 mike it blew me too, i was so bored my g/f made me blow my load all over the back of the headres 1 stars
10/18/04 will rogers, fantastic 4 stars
10/16/04 kelle excellent film, very shocking because it is based on a true story 5 stars
10/12/04 Naka Absolutely everything one could ask for in a movie of this kind. SPECTACULAR! 5 stars
10/10/04 tj Excellent and thought provoking 5 stars
9/23/04 the Grinch I agree, more Dickens than Scorsese. One of the best movies I've ever seen! Flawless! 5 stars
9/02/04 psycho dwarf Not even Dickens coulda done these kids justice. Has to be seen to be believed. 5 stars
7/08/04 Will that was utterly excellent. even better if you understand portuguese. 5 stars
7/07/04 Forget Hollywood.... damn... that was amazing. I didnt know brazilians could make movies like that! 5 stars
6/27/04 Brad Amazing camera work, character development, and plot. Great! 5 stars
6/10/04 EL PAPALOTE Iliked the movie but i hated the subtittle 4 stars
4/17/04 Morally Sound Absolutely amazing! Beautifully filmed, stunningly real. 5 stars
4/15/04 Spencer Turner Best Movie Ever Period! Totally Engrossing 5 stars
4/06/04 Ry Guy I paid for the whole seat, but I only needed the edge. 5 stars
3/26/04 LIAM JACKSON Li'l Ze was the human incarnation of evil. it was good to see him go down in a bullet hail. 5 stars
3/25/04 Shelley Shea Just dying to see this movie. 4 stars
3/19/04 Dale cash Brilliant. 5 stars
3/04/04 Andy Kirk One of the best films I have seen, and I have seen many.Not 1 person has said otherwise. 5 stars
2/18/04 Dennis Just to correct the critic, the favella City of God is in São Paulo, not in Rio de Janeiro. 5 stars
2/15/04 selden c. beebe extraordinary and poignant 5 stars
2/10/04 The Quirkfetch Kid Right on Suzanne! Whirring whizzing scenery had me too dizzy to read the damn subtitles! 2 stars
2/09/04 Suzanne Foster Totally mind-numbing, and that's just the frenzied scene-shifting! 2 stars
2/09/04 Brian Hansen An extremely strong social realistic movie - a movie with a lasting impression 5 stars
1/28/04 Andre Great, fabulous 5 stars
1/28/04 Shaq I loved it. 1 stars
11/04/03 Starkey Best film of the year! Don´t miss it! 5 stars
10/09/03 Jorge Xavier Excellent movie! The best I´ve ever seen! 5 stars
10/01/03 yui a very good cutting and excitng 5 stars
9/28/03 cretik Brilliant film making! It diffinately bitchslaped a lot of Hollywood directors. 5 stars
8/25/03 Luciano Lucindo Chaves Strong reality 5 stars
8/13/03 lm a lot better than i expected.... 5 stars
7/12/03 Morally Sound One of the greatest films ever made. Brilliant! A true masterpiece! 5 stars
4/29/03 Kyle If you have a chance to see this - I urge you, DO IT. 5 stars
4/05/03 John Bale Episodic Brazilian kitchen sink - sex drugs and violence shot like a music clip. 3 stars
3/12/03 Aiken Drum The film was real good. 5 stars
3/05/03 james good 5 stars
3/02/03 Cynthia Its a masterpiece... shows the reality with realism! 5 stars
2/27/03 Artist Freak excellent, visceral, violent, sensual, dizzying 5 stars
2/23/03 NoMargin Long but engrossing 4 stars
2/21/03 Sweeeeet It was real good! 5 stars
2/13/03 Aloha best movie I've seen in '03 so far - a kick in the head in film form 5 stars
2/13/03 M Freaking Unbelievable! 5 stars
2/11/03 Blue Brad Thrilling, Outstanding, Awesome... 5 stars
2/05/03 Aaron another perspective on the "racial democracy" of Brazil 4 stars
1/28/03 Kaminoan It sucks major balls 1 stars
1/22/03 David Brutaly realistic! Amazing editing, acting, and camera work. Kicks All Ass! 5 stars
1/21/03 Cliff Oh my....This movie is like entering a haunted house. 5 stars
1/20/03 Gerard Motola A very fascinating look at the favelas of Rio 5 stars
1/20/03 Robert Rezende It will shock you. Cinema doesn't get better than this. A Masterpiece! 5 stars
1/20/03 Kaminoan This movie just did not impress me at all 1 stars
1/20/03 Leo Rezende It will shock you. Cinema doesn't get better than this. One of the best movies ever made 5 stars
1/19/03 George I'm sorry, I just don't see what all you guys are raving about 4 stars
1/18/03 Colin Selby BLOODY BRILLIANT 5 stars
1/18/03 Jose Roberto Costa One of the two brazilian best films ever made! 5 stars
1/17/03 Marcello Santi Another remarkable example of how good is the Brazilian cinematography. A masterpiece! 5 stars
1/15/03 Peter Straub An intoxicating shot of cinematic adrenaline 5 stars
1/04/03 EDS One of greatest Brazilian movies, Great plot, great screenwriting. A must see. 5 stars
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  17-Jan-2003 (R)
  DVD: 08-Jun-2004



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