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Brazil, France
Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund


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Alexandre Rodrigues as Buscapé Criança - Young Rocket
Leandro Firmino as Dadinho - Li'l Dice
Phellipe Haagensen as Bené Criança - Young Benny
Douglas Silva as Dadinho - Li'l Dice
Jonathan Haagensen as Cabeleira - Shaggy
Matheus Nachtergaele as Sandro Cenoura - Carrot
Seu Jorge as Mané Galinha - Knockout Ned
Jefechander Suplino as Alicate - Clipper
Alice Braga as Angélica
Emerson Gomes as Barbantinho - Stringy
Edson Oliveira as Barbantinho Adulto - Older Stringy
Michel de Souza as Bené Criança - Young Benny
Roberta Rodrigues as Berenice - Bernice
Luis Otávio as Buscapé Criança - Young Rocket
City of God Storyline: Brazil, 1960's, City of God. The Tender Trio robs motels and gas trucks. Younger kids watch and learn well...too well. 1970's: Li'l Zé has prospered very well and owns the city. He causes violence and fear as he wipes out rival gangs without mercy. His best friend Bené is the only one to keep him on the good side of sanity. Rocket has watched these two gain power for years, and he wants no part of it. Yet he keeps getting swept up in the madness. All he wants to do is take pictures. 1980's: Things are out of control between the last two remaining gangs...will it ever end? Welcome to the City of God.
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Stunning - in every sense of the word
Cidade de Deus seems to have a lot of praise on the IMDb boards, and with good reason too. It simply is, in my opinion, one of the best contemporary films ever made.

Based on true events and characters who live in the overlooked and poverty stricken slums in the shadows of Rio de Janiero, where life expectancy doesn't reach the 30's and drug dealers are kings.

The tale of the City of God, and its myriad of characters is told by Rocket, a young man who struggles to make something of his life, other than to wind up another victim of drugs or gang wars.

Not only are the characters in City of God absolutely fascinating, and also very endearing, but also convincingly acted by groups of young and unknown actors. The stoies are well-told, and at times, funny, and at others, brutally shocking.

The cinematic style of the film gives a nod to Tarantino, with some clever time-jumping, freeze-framing, and texts indicating another chapter of the film. In every sense, a bit of a Brazillian "Pulp Fiction" or "Goodfellas", but with its own unique flavour to it.

The City of God is a marvel, and a highly recommended film to watch, but not recommended for the over-sensitive or easily distressed.
The gangs of Rio
Quentin Tarantino, eat your heart out! At least in this film they outshot you big time. Watching this film is difficult at times. The violence is to such a degree, the viewer has a problem seating through it.

Director Fernando Meirelles has an eye for realism and detail. The most disturbing thing about City of God is the fact that the killers are children playing adult games before they can be children. It is a well known fact that these kids' gangs created terror, not only in the favelas where they lived, which was unfortunate, but they mugged, robbed and just plain terrorized the big cities in Brazil. News about street children being shot in the streets of Rio or Sao Paolo were perceived as criminal because of the ages, but one can get a clearer picture in this film by coming to the realization these same children were killing real grown ups and getting away with murder.

The only problem I had with this film is with the English subtitles. Sometimes, one doesn't know who's who. To make matters worse, the principal character grows from a young boy into a photographer who looks like a small boy himself.

The plots and subplots are somehow hard to follow at times. The great accomplishment for the director is that he never preaches. He shows the world what went on at that particular time. The realism is extended to the way we see in gory details the corpses of the slain gang members. If Hollywood would have presented scenes that are so hard to take as these, many would be criminals would have been able to see first hand what bullets do to human beings: they kill!
Cidade De Deus
The film, directed by Fernando Meirelles, tells the story of life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, in an area known as the Cidade De Deus, the City of God. The story is told from the narration of the young photographer, Rocket. The different scenarios of life that make up the wider-story are presented in Pulp Fiction style chapters, complete with on-screen titles for each different story component. The story covers all the facets of the life, charting the growth of several key members of the gangs from childhood through to young adulthood, with their transformation from young hoodlums to local drugs barons. The final parts of the story focus on the battle within the Cidade De Deus between two different groups, when business and personal matters lead to an unavoidable confrontation. And what a confrontation it is, although details will not be given away here. The result is a powerful telling of life based around real-life events.

Martin Scorsese seems to have a heavy influence on the direction of this picture, with many moments looking familiar to fans of the legendary American filmmaker. Close ups, sweeping scene shots, freeze-and-zoom shots, and a frenzied handheld approach are all trademarks that will be recognisably traceable to Scorsese, having been used throughout his career. Many shots remind the viewer of Scorsese's narrative dialogue-camera relationship in Goodfellas, in which the camera was used to brilliant effect to highlight the main points in the script. This technique is used heavily in the first twenty minutes of Cidade De Deus, with the freeze frame trick being used to introduce the story's main characters alongside the dialogue of narrator, Rocket.

Throughout the film one cannot help but watch a scene and think, 'I've seen that in Raging Bull, Goodfellas, or Casino', and this may make some look less favourably on the film's direction. However, it is not fair to consider this 'a Brazilian Goodfellas', as one critic has observed. The story has parallels - the underlying ideas of gangsters, drugs and violence -, the direction is similar, and the story is told with narration, much like Ray Liotta's role in Scorsese's epic. But to regard this film in terms of what styles it repeats or nods it's hat to, is to be very ignorant. Fernando Meirelles, has done a wonderfully hypnotic job of blending the old styles, and bringing them up to date with flashy and sometimes dangerously kinetic direction and editing. Look only to the leaving-party scene in which strobe lighting is used to extraordinary effect, almost suffocating the story below a bombardment on the visual senses. Think of a crossover between the visual energy of the Matrix and the violence of the club scene in Bad Boys.

Cidade De Deus is much more than a directorial assault on the senses. As Raul Walsh said if you don't have a story you have nothing, and many flashy Hollywood films have fallen short in using 'ultra-modern' direction to disguise the fact that no substantial story exists underneath. Cidade De Deus is most brilliant in that it combines directorial and editorial brilliance with a story that is almost second to none in recent times. Only the true greats manage to cater to these two needs of cinema, and this is one that does. The direction is amazing, but not to disguise the story flaws, and the story is brilliant, but does not overwhelm directorial originality. But simply, Cidade De Deus is a perfect film for avid fans of cinematography, and those just in search of two hours of a bloody good story.

I cannot decide yet if I would consider this better than Amores Perros, but it is certainly not inferior. The at-the-same-time stylish and brutal visuals of Amores Perros are replaced by a grittier, more hands on approach to the subject. Whilst in Amores Perros the characters took precedent, in Cidade De Deus the location is as big a character as those who live there. As a result we get a much greater feeling of the environment in which the characters exist, and so it is perhaps easier to empathise, and/or sympathise with them. As the official press synopsis says, Cidade De Deus is a character, but is a place not a person. Amores Perros triumphs in creating relationships between the audience and the characters, as it concentrates for a long time on relatively few people, each of whom we grow to know and ultimately care about, which is important for the emotional impact of the film. Cidade De Deus deals with dozens, even hundreds, of characters, and so it is only a minority that we become attached to. This means that while the film leaves a lasting impact we are not left with the same inquisitiveness about the future for the characters that we meet in Amores Perros. Both films leave open ends, but Cidade De Deus feels closed. Whether you consider this a good or bad thing is a matter for personal choice.

Cidade De Deus is essential viewing, and is cinema at its most brilliant. It will of course feel the wrath of critics who will dwell on the almost unimaginably high body count, but there are always those who will reject violence in the movies. In fact the violence in Cidade De Deus, even the apocalyptic ending, is not as raw and bloody as many will expect. Blood spilling is a rare sight, and the violence rests mostly, but not always, on choreography rather than in your face bloodshed. The result is violence, but it is often so artistic that it looks beautiful rather than deterring. Like Scorsese's Taxi Driver the violence is abhorrent, but admirable from a cinematic perspective.

In short, this is a superb achievement, and is easily one of the best films of the year, and of the decade so far. Like it's predecessors, this is the latest film to come out of South America that indicates the emergence of major new talent in filmmaking. Hollywood beware.

My favourite movie of all time!
For almost 4 years now, Die Hard had been the greatest film I had ever seen. It was top of my list of films, and it always shone as the top film, I never questioned it's position. I still do not question it's position today, simply because it is most definitely the second greatest film I have ever seen. City Of God is sensational, a masterpiece emanating from the slums of Brazil.

The film starts off in a newly built City Of God, a favela in seemingly pretty good nick. The narrator, Rocket, is introduced. Rocket is a Nick Carraway from Great Gatsby sort of person. He does his best to stay honest, even talking to the audience in a way Nick Carraway does. He also tries his best not to be involved in anything, yet finds himself having a weak connection with every character in the film or book. In fact, Rocket's story is so close to that of Li'l Zé (legendary antagonist) that it becomes a plot point how far apart their lifestyles dictate them to be. Never has a film spoken so much to me about so many things. The physical and emotional power of drugs, crime and murder. The gang of Li'l Zé could be a band of misfits, composed of ginger haired cocaine addicts and aggressive 9 nine year olds, but more sinister gangs are we unlikely to come across in real life

I often seem to have problems with the way death is treated in Western films. I remember the copious amounts of deaths, and it feels so dehumanised that I never fully enjoy western films. Clint Eastwood just shoots bandit after bandit, and never gets anything coming to him. In City Of God, every act, every murder of a person has a family behind it. A family that will seek revenge, and no matter how primary the antagonist or protagonist is, it will not make them any harder to kill. Clint Eastwood has Chuck Norris like abilities of invincibility if any of his Westerns are to be believed. These acts of retribution come as a shock to every character, as it does to the audience. It is so well made and true to life, that one cannot pick out who has what agenda. The film also uses flashbacks to now important dialogue, to enhance the facepalm at your own stupidity effect.

Finally, the film making. This is what nails the film as being head and shoulders above the rest. Even Matrix-style bullet time shots are used, but they finish by being melted into a shot of the same character, but 20 years previously. Magic. We also get many scenes shown together in real time from different perspectives, and it never seems to be too much for the human eye. It beats 3D images any day of the year as well.

The list can go on, but not without spoilers. If you are OK with themes such as drugs, murder, rape and heartless 8 year old psychopaths, then watch this film as soon as possible! Actually, even earlier if you can.
First Half Is Bland, but The Final Half... (:Q______) Just STUNNING!
I don't know how to begin. It's one of those films you can't explain easily to anyone else but yourself. Then you have to, yes you have to watch City of God just once in your life.

It's a different kind of cinema. Different than your regular average shoot 'em up. Sure it doesn't offer that kind of vibe at first. But if you see through the whole movie, you won't regret it, just have to stay focused on the on screen stuffs.

If I ever learn Portuguese, it would be to watch this movie again. It's kind of shame that I had to keep reading the subtitles, when the real deal was not in it. Don't want to perform any further autopsy on this decent and entertaining piece of art.

Final Verdict: 9.0/10. A super powerful slap across the face of Hollywood, where you can witness about 10 failures to create a realistic and gun fighting film every year.
while still fresh in my mind.......

Quite a gritty orange tinted vacation I had in the slums of Rio. I could almost taste the dust and feel the heat in some of the scenes. A bit jarring to have a story told in an order known only to the director but I dutifully followed along as it tied together and everyone connected.I'm positioned by the camera too close to faces of people in the apartment and I don't like the smell of fear and sweat. While this repetitive tale was overkill on murder and machismo,I don't complain for some reason. Perhaps in my drive-through bank and sushi world this is what I needed to see in order to understand life doesn't change in the city of god,everyone dies and childhood ends when you can walk and hold a gun.A going away party and then you die....
Pleasantly Surprised
I hadn't heard that much about this movie before I saw it. But I think that was a good thing. When I saw it I didn't have any expectations, which is rare when you are in to movies. Usually I look up a lot of information about the movie, watch the trailer a multiple times.

I'm gonna say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was really captivating and I'm gonna say it's one of the best movies I have seen. Because it's in Portuguese it feels so much more authentic. Foreign movies can be a little bit more difficult to understand, because they make movies differently in different countries. But this movie was one of a kind. It feels so real and it shows how life in a different part of the world can be. Even if you come from the same place you take different paths and that leads you to totally different places. As long as you want to do something you can do it.

Because it's in Portuguese it make the movie as good as it is. I strongly recommend it.
Not worth the hype
Nowadays some consider a movie to be phenomenal as long as it shows tragical poverty and violence. It is so distinct from their lives that they unconsciously feel "educated" by seeing the film; praising the film therefore becomes a way of self-elevation.

City of God's fancy cinematography did not appeal to me. Unnecessary stylization in this case offends the serious topic, in my opinion. Feels more like a showcase than a honest presentation.

If one wants to dig deep into tragic elements in order to make a teary, "shocking" film, he can always go as far as his claws can take him. But there's a stopping point by which the whole thing becomes a sham too pretentious to be appreciated. A 10 year-old running around killing everyone and then enjoys himself a couple of evil laughs (that are made to echo to achieve "epic" cinematic effects)? "Cliche" would be an understatement...

I haven no objection to the theme of the movie. By all means such horrifying situations do exist in reality. But I really wish the approach to present the themes was different.
Not my taste.
The film is a marvel at depicting criminal behavior in youth microcosms, but it's also one of the ugliest films I've seen. It's very dark and dreary set in the dismal and bleak streets of Rio. I was nauseated after a while by watching the jerky often disjointed plot. The editing was effective, but it looked like they made things difficult for themselves to cram so much info and footage with the various subplots. Pseudo-documentary is alright. But I agree that I also didn't care for any of the characters except for Rocket. None of them inspire any sympathy. But then again who would want to depict these people as anything better than the dregs of the earth.
There are many films that don't live up to the hype they are afforded, particularly modern day films. 'City of God', directed by Fernando Meirelles is not one of them. From the moment the film began until halfway through the closing credits, my eyes did not leave the television once. Based on a true story, 'City of God' spans two decades and is about rival street gangs in the town Cidade de Deus (City of God), just outside of Rio de Janeiro. The city is one where the government sends the 'unwanted' residents of Rio, so most of the inhabitants are homeless, criminal and/or dirt poor. The story is told through the eyes of Rocket, a young boy who manages to stay on the outer fringe of the gangs, befriending some of the hoods, but not participating. What he discovers he wants to do is become a photojournalist, and begins to take photographs of his neighborhood. When he is in his late teens/early twenties, he goes to work delivering newspapers, when one of his photographs of the slum gang boss is discovered and published without his permission, putting his life in danger, but beginning his professional career.

There are so many reasons why 'City of God' is compelling, but besides its stylish and flashy cinematography and brutally realistic script, the pacing of the film is unrelenting. Not one time did I check the clock to see how far along we were in the film, even though I was on a time constraint. From start to finish, Meirelles gives us a solid yet exciting film. Of course, since I had no idea it was based on real events, 'City of God' became that much more intriguing, especially when, during the closing credits we see actual news footage of some of the primary characters, and we can see how closely the film mirrored actual events.

With a film like 'City of God' it is nearly impossible to convey why it is an excellent film because it is just seamless and well done in so many ways.

All I can do is recommend the film to pretty much anyone who is looking for a good story and a great presentation. See this film. Now. 9/10

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