WSR Detailed LaserDisc Review

Playing God

Reviewed In Issue 30 Of Widescreen Review® Stars:
David Duchovny, Timothy Hutton, Angelina Jolie

WSR Review Scores
Picture Rating: 3.5
Sound Rating: 3.5
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Reference Systems
Critics' Composite Score:
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DVD General Information
(Studio/Distributor): Touchstone Home Video
(Catalog Number): 10443AS
(MPAA Rating): R
(Retail Price): $39.98
(Running Time In Minutes): 94
(Color Type): Color
(Chaptered/Scene Access): Yes
(Closed Captioned): Yes
(Theatrical Release): 1997
(LD Release Date):
(THX® Digitally Mastered): No

Credits Information
(Director): Andy Wilson
(Screenplay/Written By): Mark Haskell Smith
(Music): Richard Hatley
(Director Of Photography):
(Production Designer): Naomi Shohan
(Visual Effects):
(Costume Designer):
(Editor): Louise Rubacky
(Supervising Sound Editors):
(Re-Recording Mixers):
(Executive Producers): Armyan Bernstein & Thomas A. Bliss
(Producers): Marc Abraham & Laura Bickford

DVD Picture Information
(Principal Photography): Academy Standard Flat
(Theatrical Aspect Ratio): 1.85:1
(Measured LaserDisc Aspect Ratio): 1.82:1

DVD Sound Information
(DVD Soundtrack): Dolby Digital Surround
(Theatrical Sound): Dolby Digital
(Theatrical Re-Issue Soundtrack):
(Remastered Dolby Digital): No
(Remastered DTS Digital Surround): No
(Additional Languages):

WSR Narrative Review
Story Synopsis:
In Playing God, a Los Angeles surgeon (David Duchovny) has been stripped of his medical license after performing an operation while incapacitated. After abandoning his career, he crosses paths with a ruthless criminal (Timothy Hutton), who hires the ex-surgeon as his “gunshot doctor” to treat associates who cannot risk visiting a hospital. The theatrical trailer is included with the DVD.

LaserDisc Picture:

LaserDisc Soundtrack:
(Surround Bass Below 50Hz): Yes
(Aggressive System Surround): Yes
(Intense 25Hz Bass): No
(Deep Bass Challenging): No
(Aggressive 0.1 LFE):
(Holosonic Soundfield): No
(Aggressive Split Surround): No
(Center Back Surround Imaging): No
(Directionalized Dialogue): No
Superb Sound Effects Recording Quality:
Superb Music Score Recording Quality:
Superb Special Visual Effects Quality:
Superb Color Fidelity:
Superb Cinematography:
Reference LaserDisc:
Collector Edition:
DVD To LaserDisc Comparison:
The DVD, matted at 1.82:1, is not anamorphically enhanced and, with the exception of a slight improvement in sharpness and color saturation, looks quite similar to the LaserDisc. The LaserDisc appears slightly oversaturated with reddish fleshtones, while the DVD delivers more accurately rendered fleshtones. Colors are generally natural and fully saturated with deep blacks. Images are sharp and detailed, with improved fine detail in comparison with the LaserDisc. Sometimes both versions appear too dark and are wanting in better contrast and shadow delineation. The LaserDisc is also 1.82:1. The Dolby® Digital 5.1 discrete soundtrack on the DVD and LaserDisc sounds closed-in compared to the spatially open sounding matrix PCM soundtrack on the LaserDisc. Surround envelopment also is superior on the matrix version. The discrete often has no surround signal or it is at such a low level as to be inconsequential. There is center-focused bass rumble heard throughout the interior scenes on the Dolby Digital version that is subdued on the matrix. The Dolby Digital version sounds equalized with emphasized 80Hz bass and roll-off at the high frequencies. Dialogue often sounds natural with good spatial integration. Bass response is deep and occasional .1 LFE heighten the intensity. The music score is nicely recorded with a soundstage that sounds more expansive on the matrix version, while the discrete falls just short of a stellar experience.