"Divinity is nowhere in sight in 'City of God,' a jauntily brutal documentary-style drama by Brazilian TV and commercial director Fernando Meirelles...'City of God'' moves in where even cops fear to tread, embracing the mess, misery, and violence with a matter-of-factness at once riveting and disconcertingly MTV-cool...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." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"'City of God' is undeniably powerful, but also rather numbing...The distinction between the depiction of violence and its exploitation is paper-thin. We are made to witness horrific acts of cruelty, and yet there is something unseemly in the way Meirelles glamorizes them with fancy effects: split screens, slo-mo, jump cuts. He's trying to turn us on." --Peter Rainer, New York

"This gripping story of life, death and drug turf wars in a pulsing Rio de Janeiro slum moves ahead at a machine-gun clip...The spectacular visuals at times overwhelm the story, but the young non-pro actors--real-life gang members with faces straight out of Carnaval--are electric, and there are scenes of such power that they will haunt you." --Diane Baroni, Interview

"From beginning to end, 'City of God' doesn't just hold you; it clutches your lapels with its lurid exuberance. Meirelles made his name directing Brazilian TV (lots of commercials) and has a hyperkinetic panache to make Guy Ritchie weep. ...But if 'City of God' whirs with energy for nearly its full 130-minute running time, it is oddly lacking in emotional heft for a work that aspires to the epic... for all its pretense to social significance, 'City of God' is essentially a tarted-up exploitation picture whose business is to make ghastly things fun." --John Powers, LA Weekly

"'City of God' is like a bomb exploding in a fireworks factory: It's fierce and shocking and dazzling and wonderful...The level of cruelty is bone-chilling, as seething hatreds fester and trigger-happy kids kill each other, but the sheer brilliance of Meirelles' filmmaking is in presenting the ultra-violence in a way that is neither heavy-handed nor blasE`...that rare film that manages to be seductively entertaining without ever compromising its authenticity and power." --Megan Turner, The New York Post