DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » City of Men
City of Men
Palm Pictures // Unrated // September 26, 2006
List Price: $32.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Chris Neilson | posted December 28, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Film

In the Spring of 2006, the Sundance Channel garnered positive press for syndicating the Brazilian series, City of Men. The show was a follow-up project for the creative talents behind the critically-acclaimed 2002 feature film, City of God. Filmed primarily on location in a hillside shanty town (favela) of Rio de Janeiro, and using a cast composed mostly of novice and non-professional actors, the series began with a lot of promise. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to its potential, and continued on far too long.

Filmed between 2002 and 2005, City of God completed 19 half-hour episodes in four seasons. The series follows two favela residents, Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha), from the age of 13 through 17. Acerola and Laranjinha are good kids who try to avoid trouble while living in a neighborhood that seems to be a cross between Lord of the Flies and Peanuts: young men reign through the judicious use of brutality while adults are ineffectual background characters.

The first three episodes of City of God are reminiscent of the best episodes of The Wire in their focus on a criminal gang entrenched in a poor neighborhood. Though the favela and gang are a continuing presence throughout the series, they never seem as potent in menace or possibility as they do in this first season. Acerola and Laranjinha flirt with becoming criminals, but ultimately reject that path. Unfortunately, the series begins to stumble as it moves away from its focus on the favela's gang.

While at times, City of Men continues to be a realistic drama about teens surrounded by crime and poverty, increasingly after season one the storylines become contrived and fantastical adventures across space and social class. For example, in season two, Acerola and Laranjinha travel on their own from Rio to Brasilia for a personal audience with Brazilian President Lula. Later in the same season, Acerola and Laranjinha undertake misadventures with a pair of rich Japanese boys chaperoned only by their street-smart chauffer. While these scenarios may, at times, be entertaining, they bare little in common with the gritty authenticity of City of God or the first three episodes of the series.

It was enjoyable to see Acerola and Laranjinha grow up and face some tough life challenges, but the constant barrage of contrived and unbelievable storylines put me off the series long before it ended. Nevertheless, I soldiered on to the end and was rewarded with a series finale so outlandish that I still can't believe they did it. Abandoning the fiction of Acerola and Laranjinha, the final episode concerns the principal actors, Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha looking back on their roles, imagining their characters' futures, and seeking new acting opportunities. Mixing in elements of Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Monkey Dust, and half a dozen of Eddie Murphy's worst movies, this episode is an apt ending for a series that started off as a realistic crime drama with a positive social message, but that took a wrong turn early on and sped along to irrelevant absurdity.

I'm curious where the 2007 follow-up film, also entitled City of Men, falls on the continuum between gritty realism and absurdest fantasy.

The DVD

Palm Pictures has provided the entire 570 minute series on three discs at a very reasonable price.

The Video:
This release retains the series' original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and generally look very good, though there are small mastering errors here and there such as a drift in the vertical hold in episode three that detract from an otherwise eye-popping image.

The subtitles are well translated and are easily readable despite the rapid pace necessary to keep up with the dialogue. Unfortunately, they are non-removable.

The Audio:
These discs sound about as good as Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo can. City of Men relies heavily on a Brazilian hip-hop soundtrack, and these discs make it sound great while also ensuring that the Portuguese dialogue comes through clearly. Short of remastering the audio into a 5.1 mix, City of Men sounds as good as one could ask for.

The Extras:
The only extra provided is a reel of trailers for other Palm Pictures DVDs.

Final Thoughts:
City of Men starts off well with a fascinating glimpse into a Brazilian hillside shanty town, but quickly loses its way. Although this release is inexpensively priced, viewers who are looking for something akin to City of God or The Wire should be satisfied with renting the first disc, and leaving off when the contrivances become insufferable.

Other Reviews:
Popular Reviews
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
2. Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
3. Doctor Who: Season 8
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. Kroll Show: Seasons One & Two
6. Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Seven
7. Into the Woods (The Original Broadway Production)
8. As Above, So Below
9. The Equalizer (2014)
10. The Emerald Forest


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use