This is a review done for me on behalf of a friend of mine, Jamie Scott. An avid surfer with a fresh new dvd player. I'll let him take it from here:
I first saw In God's Hands advertised in Australian Surfing Life Magazine. Initially I was excited at the prospect of a big budget (compared to other surf vids) surf movie but unfortunately I was very disappointed when I finally got to see it on DVD.
The film follows three surfers as they prepare mentally and physically for surfing the world's biggest waves, waves so big that to catch them one needs to be towed in by jetski. Shane Dorian, real-life pro-surfer, plays Shane, a gifted soul surfer who shuns the pro tour. Mickey, played by Matt George, is an aging former world no.2 and Mathew Liu
plays Keoni, a young up and comer. Considering that Mathew Liu is the only actor of the three I have to say that the acting was very good.
Both Dorian and George were convincing, as were the many other real-life surfers that appeared in the film. However the script was embarassing and the storyline no better. There were a number of scenes that had Shane explaining how waves travelled around the globe and talking about the feeling he got from riding waves. These scenes tried much too hard to be profound and soulful and only succeeded in being cheesy and laughable.
Something else that grated on me was one of the training sequences in which Shane and Mickey were learning to surf behind the jetskis. Mickey had expressed his distaste for tow-in surfing because it wasn't in keeping with the eco-friendly spirit of surfing. To further emphasize this point the director chose to inflict the audience with shots of Mickey trying but failing to master this skill. While the other surfers were pulling off huge airs and generally ripping it up Mickey kept falling off and looking frustrated. This was a joke! Anyone who could come remotely close to being a pro-surfer would pick up surfing behind a jetski in about 5 seconds. Mickey's inability to acquire this simple skill was simply inappropriate and just added to the list of implausible incidents that occurred throughout In God's Hands.
The climactic scene occurs when the 3 main characters, along with a number of other big wave riders, make it to Hawaii to ride the huge waves that have been forecast a few days before. As expected Shane proves himself more than capable in the giant surf. We are treated to the mandatory moment of suspense when our hero wipes out and is held
down in the impact zone. It is no surprise when he is rescued, a little shaken but otherwise intact. However when Mickey paddles into the take off zone, refusing the assistance of a jetski tow-in, his future looks grim. He takes off on a monster and falls off, as expected. Now, I
wouldn't normally give away such a crucial part of a movie but given the absurdity of it I really don't think that I'm ruining it for anybody.
So Mickey is nowhere to be seen, Keoni is on a rubber dinghy screaming with fear that his friend is a goner and Shane and the jetski riders are frantically searching for Mickey. We see Shane diving down under the waves and Mickey tumbling about underwater. Then comes the strange
part, a clear image of Mickey carrying a rock to keep himself on the ocean floor and running away from Shane, like he doesn't want to be saved. And that's about all we get. One is left to conclude that Mickey never surfaces and that he didn't want to. A most unusual suicide and an unsatisfying ending to a directionless plot.
The video looked excellent. It reminded me of some of the footage I saw in the IMAX movie "Extreme". There are times where the surf looks amazing, especially the slo-mo shots, and other times where it looks ordinary. This is all to do with the footage and not the dvd.
Even on my TV this sounded great. I don't have a dolby digital processor but I imagine it would sound good only in the large surf scenes.
Dialogue was fine throughout but the script was corny and badly acted so it detracted somewhat. All in all, good audio.
One of the main problems with In God's Hands is that it suffers from an identity crisis. It tries to be both a mainstream movie as well as a surfing video and in the end it fails to fill either role satisfactorily.
Overall In God's Hands is a lemon. I would only recommend it to surfers who want to see what their DVD player can do with high quality surf footage. The cinematography was excellent after all. The sounds of the waves were booming through my stereo speakers and if I had a full 5.1 setup I'm sure my sub-woofer would have been getting a good workout. So keep you're finger near the FFWD button, enjoy the surfing and forget about the rest.