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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Leap of Faith



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#1 of 2 Scott Kimball

Scott Kimball

    Screenwriter

  • 1,500 posts
  • Join Date: May 08 2000

Posted August 31 2003 - 02:10 PM

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Leap of Faith



Studio: Paramount

Year: 1994

Rated: PG-13

Length: 107 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Anamorphic

Audio: DD 5.1

Subtitles: English
Release Date: September 9, 2003




Leap of Faith stars Steve Martin as a Jonas Nightengale, a slick con-man posing as faith-healer in a traveling ministry. His manager, Jane (Debra Winger) not only helps to work the con, but keeps the local law enforcement at bay.

On their way to wealthier towns, one of the caravan’s trucks breaks down, forcing a stop-over in poor Rustwater, Kansas. Rather than lose the days, the ministry sets up camp at the Rustwater fairgrounds, much to the chagrin of the local sheriff (Liam Neeson). The seriff knows a con when he sees one, and does what he can to interfere with the ministry, as throngs of poor townsfolk buy into the con, giving donations in hopes of being saved.

Jonas is taken with a local waitress (Lolita Davidovitch) and her disabled little brother (Lukas Haas). Now, Jonas must decide whether the con is worth dashing the hopes, dreams and faith of a boy.

Martin does an okay job as the slick preacher, though I could never fully buy into him in the role. Winger is excellent as Jane. Neeson, Davidovich and Haas do an admirable job rounding out the supporting cast.

The most interesting part of the film is watching the con-team at work. Using hidden microphones and cameras, and “plants” in the audience, they spy on the crowd to learn of their ills. Information is relayed to Jonas, onstage, so that he can use it to sway the audience (appearing to divine information about them without asking)... in hopes of increasing the donations.

The story is a bit obvious where it’s going, but there’s enough fun along the way to hold your interest.

The Video
This is an anamorphic, 1.85:1 transfer. The picture is reasonably sharp. There are a couple of scenes where where the discerning viewer will note that some mild compression artifacts are visible. There is fine grain throughout, as transferred from the original film elements. This is a decent transfer from Paramount - not bad for a catalog title, but I’d be disappointed if this were a new release.

The Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fairly active, especially during the stage shows. The rousing gospel music and the ambience of the crowd surrounds you. Subwoofer activity is present during the musical sequences, but there’s not much in the way of LFE effects. This sounds good for a 10 year old catalog title.

Final Thoughts
Leap of Faith is a bit more genuine than much of Steve Martin’s work... but I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. This is one of Martin’s more serious roles. The film really works when they are working the cons, but falls a bit flat otherwise. Video and audio quality are okay for an older catalog title. This is a bare-bones release - no trailer, no documentary, no commentary.

#2 of 2 Chris_Morris

Chris_Morris

    Screenwriter

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  • Join Date: Jan 04 2002

Posted September 01 2003 - 02:12 AM

Excellent review Scott.

This is one of my favorite Steve Martin films. Glad to hear that the video and audio aren't atrocious. Being an older catalog title, I was worried about the quality. I will rent this for the time being though as there are too many boxsets that relegate this to the 'buy later' category.


Chris