City of God (2002)

10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great acting, great visuals, great story


Movie Info

Movie Name: City of God

Studio: O2 Filmes

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): May 18, 2002 (Cannes)/August 30, 2002 (Brazil)/March 12, 2003 (US)

MPAA Rating: R


One camera…one way out

Growing up in the slums of Brazil is tough…if you’re lucky enough to grow up at all.  Follow the story of Rocket (played by Luis Otavio as a child and Alexandre Rodrigues as an adult) as he tries to escape the slums in his quest to become a professional photographer while another boy his age named Li’l Dice or Li’l Ze (played by Douglas Silva as a child and Leandro Firmino da Hora as an adult) sets out to become the king of the slums through drugs.  When a war breaks out between Li’l Ze and another dealer named Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) and Knockout Ned (Seu Jorge), it could be Rocket’s chance to escape…or it could lead to his death.

Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund, City of God (or Cidade de Deus) is one of the best movies of the early 2000s.  Based on the novel by Paulo Lins and based on real events from his childhood in the Cidade de Deus outside of Rio de Janeiro.  It was loved by critics and was nominated for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing…but it didn’t make Best Picture or Best Foreign Picture…a true sin.


I just killed 8 people…Well I think it’s funny!

The movie is what Slumdog Millionaire aspired to be and really should have been.  It is dark, gritty, and unlike Slumdog Millionaire, it feels much more real.  When Slumdog Millionaire was released, it was obvious that it followed the same plot and style that City of God had.  City of God did it so much better however.  It was able to tell a great story of these kids in an awful situation, reacting differently to it, plus tell more stories and bring it all back together for a satisfying ending.

The actors in film deserve a lot of recognition for the movie and it is quite astounding since only the actor who played Carrot (a relatively minor role) was a professional actor.  The other actors were found and taught by filmmakers from around the city.  It doesn’t show.  They seem extremely professional and almost unlikely that this is true, but all reports say it is.


I don’t think Katniss would survive this Hunger Games

The movie really also points out the problem in a situation like the City of God.  The crime seems to breed crime and there is no way to stop it.  The only methods to survive this cycle are get out, ignore it, or just join it.  Even at the end of the film when Rocket gets pictures of corrupt officers backing Li’l Ze and the drug trade, he know that he can’t show the pictures even if they will make him famous.  If citizens try to stand up to the problem, they risk their lives.  Knockout Ned’s story also echoes this by showing a guy who believed in living right transformed when crime enters his world.

City of God is a film that should be seen.  It is dark, amazing looking, and an important message of  the contracts behind the beauty of someplace like Rio de Janeiro and the reality.  The movie was followed by a TV series called City of Men and then a follow-up film called City of Men in 2007.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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