Rated NR

An interesting cross between the gangster movies of the ’70s and the gangsta movies of the ’90s, City of God tells of the rise and fall of Li’l Ze, from his childhood in the slums of Brazil to his days ruling those same slums as the godfather of an enormous crime syndicate. Ostensibly based on true events, City of God moves back and forth in time in a manner somewhat reminiscent of The Godfather Part II, and with much of the same verve and directorial skill as that film. Ultimately, though, there are too many characters for any of them to come fully to life, and the final 40 minutes involve an incredibly bloody gang war that so totally takes over the plot that much of the human element is reduced to caricature. City of God winds up being something of an old-style Hollywood epic re-set into a most non-epic environment, and if you take it on those terms its incredibly effective, if not incredibly deep.


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