|Year Released||1996||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||118:44 minutes||Other Extras||None|
Warner Home Video
Courtney B. Vance
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) is a preacher in a church in the poorer part of town. Things aren't going too well for Henry - he doesn't feel that he can make a difference in his troubled community, and his marriage to Julia (Whitney Houston) isn't doing all that well, either. It's Christmas-time, and Henry has just about reached the end of his tether. In desperation, he calls upon God for help, which is forthcoming in the form of Dudley (Denzel Washington), an angel sent down to help Henry in his time of need. Of course, Henry doesn't believe a word of it.
Dudley tries to help our ever-busy Reverend, but ends up spending far too much time with Julia instead, as Henry is too busy with his parish duties to pay her sufficient attention. Throw in a token bad guy - Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines) - who wants to tear down Henry's church and build him a new, snazzier one in a richer part of town and you have the fundamental building blocks that make up this movie. The plot is predictable enough, but what saves this movie from the depths of mediocrity to which it could have plunged is some above-average acting from both Courtney B. Vance and Denzel Washington who make the most of an average script, and some deft direction from Penny Marshall who manages to keep this movie moving along instead of floundering about aimlessly.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is beautifully sharp and clear, with everything being extremely well-defined. Shadow detail is excellent and there is no low level noise.
The colours were wonderfully warm, rich and vibrant, particularly during indoor scenes which were generally filled with warm reds and browns. There was, however, no colour bleeding nor chroma noise despite the strength of the colours on offer.
There were no MPEG artefacts seen, and no aliasing seen either. The only problem with this transfer was the mildly excessive number of film artefacts to be seen. Many of these were in the form of white flecks in the image, and many of these were centrally-placed within the frame, making these defects all the more noticeable.
This disc is RSDL-formatted,
with the nicely-placed layer change occurring at 66:50.
Dialogue was variable in its quality, often sounding muffled and poorly spatially integrated with the rest of the mix. It was frequently obvious that lines had been added or changed in post-production by the distinct change in timbre and spatial integration that occurred at these times. Audio sync was occasionally problematic with the post-produced dialogue, and it was very obvious that Whitney Houston was lip-syncing all of her songs.
The score by Hans Zimmer served its purpose admirably, creating a nicely-enveloping and frequently present soundfield that drew the listener into the movie. Add to this some great songs and some great singing from other artists, and the overall result is an excellent soundtrack from a musical point of view.
The surround channels were frequently but subtly used. Music frequently contributed to the rear soundstage as did ambient effects. Many sound effects were restricted to the front hemisphere, but equally many were nicely spread throughout the entire soundfield, providing a subtly immersive experience for the listener. It was a nice comfortable mix that you could simply relax and enjoy listening to without being overly demanding.
The .1 channel was subtly used to support the music.
|Surround Channel Use|
The video quality is very good, and would have earned reference quality status if there were a few less film artefacts.
The audio quality is variable. Dialogue is relatively poor, but the surround mix is excellent.
There are no extras.
© Michael Demtschyna
(read my bio)
27th July 2000
|DVD||Lenoxx DVD-725B, 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; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer|