City of God Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 286 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Welcome to the world's most notorious slum: Rio de Janeiro's 'City of God.' A place where combat photographers fear to tread, where Police rarely go, and residents are lucky if they live to the age of 20. This is the true story of a young man who grew up on these streets and whose ambition as a photographer is our window in and ultimately may be him only way out. (Miramax) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The film is seductive, disturbing, enthralling -- a trip to hell that gives the passengers a great ride.
  2. 100
    Meticulous in its descriptions of well-intended individuals caught up in these ferocious waves of street crime.
  3. 100
    Breathtaking and terrifying, urgently involved with its characters, it announces a new director of great gifts and passions: Fernando Meirelles.
  4. Undeniably powerful, the work also comes with its own built-in shield against feeling any one character's difficulties too deeply, or for too long.
  5. In God's ghetto, as in so many of the world's forsaken places, warring armies of infants brandish their weapons of self-destruction, while politicians bluster and inspectors sleep.
  6. Reviewed by: Staff (not credited)
    Predictably, the violence is overwhelming. But the massacres are glamorized, and the characters look like they're posing for tourism posters.
  7. Undeniably powerful, but also rather numbing.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 82 out of 91
  2. Negative: 5 out of 91
  1. WelingtonS.
    Jan 1, 2006
    A masterpiece.
  2. Aug 1, 2012
    Filmogaphy on this move is an evolution of anything hollywood ever acomplished. A real lesson on how to film a story that screams reality. One of the most violent movies ever made is also one of the most beautifully filmed. Expand
  3. LeanneH.
    Jan 18, 2007
    I agree with Chris S. Dave H. you've got it all wrong. This is not a Hollywood thriller, this is a neo-realism film, a piece of brazilian national cinema which highlights Brazilian's way of life in order to obtain political change (wow! I hope I ace my exam!). You are looking at this concept so wrong, unless you understand the purpose of this film you will never see it as being a fantastic acheivement, which is definitely what it is! :) Expand
  4. Nov 8, 2012
    When the credits begin to roll, your eyes will be wide, thoughts racing, your mind still trying to comprehend the impeccable City of God.
  5. Oct 2, 2014
    An emotionally visceral, graphically violent piece of cinema, City of God (Cidade de Deus) might be one of the most brutally honest films I've ever seen. Noting is taboo as the movie shows children being shot, countless dead bodies, and ruthless behavior; all the more shocking because it's real. The movie takes place in the City of God, an area in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, far from the places shown on the touristy postcards. It's a slum, and it seems like you'd be lucky to make it into your 20's living there. The story follows a young man named Rocket as he aspires to be a photographer, while showing bleak backdrop of the drug trade and constant gang warfare in the area. The director purposefully uses little-known actors to make the feel of the movie more authentic, and the way he presents the material through the stunning cinematography and a superb script is amazing. I'm shocked it didn't succeed in getting nominated for best Foreign Language film at the Oscars, but nonetheless it is a powerful and important film that earns its critical praise. Some viewers will be unable to watch parts of this movie; it really is that shocking. Expand
  6. Mar 4, 2013
    City of God follows the fortunes of a group of children growing up in a poor, crime infested part of Rio de Janeiro. The story centers mainly around two characters. Each with very similar lives, but who take vastly different paths. This juxtaposition is what drives the narrative in City Of God, and what makes it so compelling.

    Rocket feels out of place in the world he lives. he wants to be a photographer. We know from the moment we meet him that he longs to rise above the horrendous poverty and crime that envelopes him. He stands out in this world, others are naturally drawn to his soft temperament and demeanor even if they don't realize the reason. Rocket does not readily have the means to rise above this world so consequently he comes across many stumbling blocks in his life. One of the more interesting sequences in the film is when Rocket concludes that he has no other options than to resort to the life most of his peers have. How this decision plays out results in some of the more lighthearted moments in City Of God. While Rocket's path may not be more interesting than others in the story, it is the most sympathetic.

    Li'l Ze is the polar opposite of Rocket. He doesn't long to rise above this world, he longs to rule over it. The perverse crime and violence he sees all around him doesn't hinder him, it compels him. Li'l Ze earns the kind of respect that comes from brute force, and he learns these tactics at a frighteningly young age. If Li'l Ze is going to be a criminal he is determined to the most powerful criminal in the City of God. This is his only motivation, and what he allows to define his existence.

    There are many other characters in City Of God. This film has lots of moving parts. However most of the other players move within the framework of the two main characters. Rocket and Li'l Ze are the black and white of the movie, while the other characters represent the shades of gray. It is an interesting way to tell a story, and works exceptionally well here.

    If I have an issue with City of God it is with the way the movie was shot. We get very few static shots in this film. Everything is quick cuts and shaky camera. While this style never completely keeps me from enjoying a film, it can detract from my enjoyment some. It is very hard to get a sense of time and place when this style is employed, City if God was no exception to this. It also make it difficult to differentiate between the good and bad acting within this style. I suppose this can work positively for the director, but I still consider it a detriment.

    Overall I would consider City of God a great crime drama. The story is extremely well told, with many interesting memorable characters. This is the kind of movie that is still with you weeks or months after you see it. I am looking forward to revisiting it in the future.
  7. Nov 5, 2014
    Really ??? Is this a movie with 8.9 score ??? I must be from another planet. For those who should be surprised with my "0", I'm a well educated man and watched the movie very carefully and only with coffee. Some young brasilian dirtbags kill each other. Yes for 2 hours this is it. Trash movie, trash actors, trash plot. Expand

See all 91 User Reviews