Meirelles's picture is so keen to brandish its social wrath, and its spirits are so rampagingly high, that the bruises it inflicts barely last a night. [20 January 2003, p. 94]
Stream City of God
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In its cinematic approach, though, the film is as slick as any Hollywood thriller, directed by Fernando Meirelles with visual flourishes - jazzy editing, lurid colors, crackling sound effects - that dilute the impact of what might have been an indelible cautionary tale.
A potent and unexpected mixture of authenticity and flash -- even if this is what happened on the ground, making it worth our time on screen is just beyond the contortionist abilities of even this most acrobatic of films.
A marvelous achievement that refuses to avert its gaze from the poetry and the insane savagery of the hopeless.
Like a bomb exploding in a fireworks factory: It's fierce and shocking and dazzling and wonderful.
Undeniably powerful, but also rather numbing.
The film is seductive, disturbing, enthralling -- a trip to hell that gives the passengers a great ride.
As the movie's frenetic visual rhythms and mood swings synchronize with the zany, adrenaline-fueled impulsiveness of its lost youth on the rampage, you may find yourself getting lost in this teeming netherworld.
Full of action, but no soul.
It takes a strong stomach to sit through its two-plus hours of non-stop brutality (much of it involving very small children).