In God's Hands

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 2 - Dolby Digital City, and DVD Teaser Trailer #2
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 93:48 minutes Other Extras Cast Biographies
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Zalman King

Columbia Tristar
Starring Patrick Shane Dorian
Matt George
Matthew Stephen Liu
Shaun Tomson
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Paradise

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, in background during credits

Plot Synopsis

    Question: How do you market 20 minutes of amazing surfing footage?

    Answer: String it out to a looonnnnggg and boring 94 minutes and call it In God's Hands.

    To be fair, there is a market for this movie. I, unfortunately, do not fit into the appropriate demographic because;

  1. I am not a surfer
  2. I am not Californian
  3. I was not stoned when I was watching this movie
    The plot, and I use the term plot very loosely in this context, revolves around a group of surfers. Mickey (Matt George) was number two in the world, eight years ago, and yearns to return to his former glory days. Shane (Patrick Shane Dorian) is simply a great surfer, and Keoni (Matthew Stephen Liu) is an up-and-comer who idolizes Mickey.

    They travel, inexplicably, to several out-of-the-way places around the world, where they surf. The ultimate goal is to end up in Hawaii for the ultimate wave. Along the way, they seem to pick up a woman, a bunch of other surfers, and a photographer-surfer through means that are not adequately explained. When they are not surfing or training or travelling, they naval-gaze and philosophize for protracted periods of time.

    In its favour, the surfing footage is absolutely sensational, both aurally and visually, but this would really have been much better as a short documentary rather than as a feature film. In a nutshell, In God's Hands sinks like a stone.

Transfer Quality


    This is a slightly disappointing transfer from Columbia Tristar.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was generally sharp and clear. Some of the surfing shots were a little hazy, but I suspect this is inherent in the nature of surf photography. Shadow detail was acceptable and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were unusually rendered, with many early scenes tinted very brown. I presume that this was the intent of the cinematographer, as the colours returned to more conventional hues as the movie progressed.

    For the first time in a Columbia Tristar transfer, I fancied that I could see MPEG artefacts in the transfer. These occurred in a number of the shots of the surf, with just a hint of blockiness about the waves. There were no film-to-video artefacts in this transfer, and minimal film artefacts.


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, and French Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was generally easy to understand, even to the extent of sounding clearly ADR processed at times. Sometimes, small portions of the dialogue was distorted.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by Paradise was very ambient in nature and suited the on-screen imagery nicely.

    The surround channels were used variably. During the surfing scenes, they were very aggressively utilized - indeed the opening sequence was absolutely amazing in the precision of sound placement within the sound field and the aggressive nature of the surround use. My hopes for something aurally amazing were quickly quashed, however, when the sound collapsed down to a basically mono mix for the non-surfing sequences.

    The .1 channel was also unevenly used. Once again, it was very aggressively used during the surfing sequences, to the point of drawing attention to itself, but then it fell away to silence for the remainder of the movie. The overall effect was that of a poorly-integrated .1 mix which detracted from the overall impact of the movie instead of enhancing it.


    There is a basic selection of extras on this disc.

Menu - 4:3

Theatrical Trailer

Biographies - Cast

R4 vs R1

    We miss out on a Pan & Scan version of this title which is no great loss since this would lessen the impact of the surf sequences considerably.


    In God's Hands may be worth a rental to check out the spectacular surfing action, which is accompanied by extremely aggressive 5.1 sound, but I doubt that the average DVD consumer will be particularly moved by this disc.

    The video quality is acceptable, but not great.

    The audio quality is variable and ranges from superbly enveloping to flat mono.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
19th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer