HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Powers: Season 1
HTS Overall Score:77
Comic book based superhero movies are living in a golden age right now. Not long ago all we had was “Smallville”, and maybe a few small adaptations that never really took over the air waves like many had hope. Now we have “Arrow”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “The Flash”, “Powers”, “Daredevil” and even a few hints at maybe a return to “Blade” if things go as planned. Budgets are bigger as audiences are demanding more and more of the hyped up heroes and villain in front and center, plus they are reaching a much more “adult” audience with the advent of premium channels and different distribution methods other than prime time TV. That alone has been a game changer for modern shows, allowing R-rated content to come out without worrying about broadcast TV regulations, allowing channels like “Showtime”, “HBO”, “Netflix”, “Amazon” and now Playstation Network themselves much more flexibility in what they’re able to show. Especially on the streaming exclusive sites. Taken from the panels of a the self-titled graphic novels, “Powers” is an interesting take on what would happen if super powered heroes were the new football and basketball stars of the future, with souped up powers and the egos to match, that and the need to hire a PR agent.
Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) is a cop working in the LAPD. Much like normal cops he goes out, he gets bad guys and locks them up. Only thing different is that he works in the “Powers” division, which is dedicated to bringing in super powered bad guys and keeping them from hurting us normal folks. You see, he lives in a future where people gained super powers years ago and the resulting world power change that happened. Like most humans, some of them used their powers for evil, while other people used their powers for good. Thus, the villains were kept in check by vigilante super powers who worked with the government and were dubbed “Heroes”. 8 years ago Christian was one of the best of the heroes. Nearly invincible with incredible strength and the ability to fly, Christian was called Diamond, and the crème de la crème along with “Retro Girl” (Michelle Forbes), Johnny Royalle (Noah Taylor), and Triphammer (Andrew Sensenig). Then his old mentor, Wolfe (Eddie Izzard), drained him of his powers (Wolfe has the interesting ability to absorb and keep other people’s powers) on a murderous rampage, leaving the ex-superhero a normal mortal like the rest of us. Now he works hard to keep the streets free of super powered freaks while dreaming of being the hero he once was.
The world of “Powers” is much like ours is, but sports stars and rich socialites have been replaced by the super community. People with powers are few and few between, but they are idolized by the normal and utilize PR agents to keep themselves supported. They even say in show, being able to fly and have bullets bounce off your chest isn’t exactly resume worthy when hunting for a job. So they have to have endorsements, make public appearances, the whole works. Those who live in the powers community are trying to either make it rich like sports stars do today, waiting for a disaster so they can take the limelight, or end up using those powers for personal gain OFF the record and end up being hunted down by Christian Walker and his new partner, Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward).
The show deals with several different social and plot based issues that fracture off into their own subplots as the series goes on (albeit for only 10 episodes). First and foremost we have the inner struggling of Christian Walker and his desire to regain his super powers. Even though he’s a mortal man once more, he just CRAVES to regain that power and serve people like he once did, even if that makes him more than a little bit mopey at times. The addition of the super hero groupie Calista (Oleysa Rulin) was one of the worst parts of the show and really a failed opportunity. Her character in the comics was rather full and fleshed out, but here she is so pathetic and annoying that you really just want her to leave. The over acting on her part just got ridiculous. Tying in with that. The addition of Chrisian’s old friend and now nemesis, Johnny Rohalle, is a mix of good and bad. He over acts like no one else (but can you help it in a superhero TV show?) with a rasping accent, but his character actually ends up with enough twists and turns that I actually started to really like him.
The addition of “Wolfe” was pure comic gold though, since Eddie Izzard was born for this type of role. Spouting philosophy with an enigmatic air and then savagely tearing people into goo the next just fit him so well. The writers seemed to know that Izzard was an enormous pull because they basically brought his story arc into play not once, but TWICE during the season. In episode 5 we have him breaking out of his insane asylum prison, tearing and shredding guards and prisoners alike as he increases in power, only to be defeated by Christian, who somehow can reabsorb his powers from Wolfe once in close proximity. THEN once the powers that be (pun intended) realized that Izzard brought the fans in by the droves, they added him back in for the second half and basically repeated that escape procedure.
I have both positive and negative reactions to the first season of powers. On one hand, I really like the more adult themed take on superheroes, almost mimicking the real life social issues that a super powered human would face in the movie “The Incredibles” and transposing them into an adult concept. The most accurate description I can give to the show is that it’s a walking talking comic book on screen. That includes all the cheese, the bright shiny visuals and fun that goes along with that connotation. One the other hand the blatant overacting by the actors was a little grating on the nerves at times. Christian is a slightly squandered character as they him moping around WAYYYYYYYYY too much, and Johnny and Calisto really felt wasted. Having Michelle Forbes as Retro Girl and Eddie Izzard as Wolfe was brilliant though, as the star power really added to the cast despite some of the story and character flaws shown.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=49817[/img]“Powers” was originally aired via the Playstation network’s download method so I was fully expecting a mess of an encode, as I’m not a wild fan of their compression algorithms. Thankfully the image actually looks rather nice, with good detail and much improved black levels from streaming compression. The show is filled with LOTS of bright colors and these colors come through with incredible precision and excellent saturation. The show is filled with neon purple, red, green and blue costumes that swirl with incredibly animated powers. The show itself had a much lower budget than something financed by a large channel or Netflix, but it did a decent job with the special effects budget that it DID have. The CGI is a bit low in the quality department and you can definitely tell where it’s added, due to limited funds. Fine detail is solid, even there is some softness to the image, especially where the special effects come in to play (a common side effect of trying to blend green/blue screen imagery with real world shots) and overall I was very pleased with the transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=49825[/img]Sony doesn’t always follow the industry standard of providing a lossless English track and lossy foreign language tracks for the rest like everyone else, and instead provides BOTH an English and a French DTS-HD MA 5.1 track to enjoy on the disc. Being that I don’t exactly speak French, the English one is our focus today and boy oh boy is it a good one. Full of life and vibrancy, the lossless audio track throbs with energy and a vivaciousness that it’s low budget TV roots can’t shake. Dialog is clean and clear, locked up front and free of any nasty issues, and the surround and LFE channel are awash with lots of activity as the superheroes duke it out in front of the normal humans. Even with a front heavy TV show, the other channels get more than enough of a workout to leave me very impressed, from the finely detailed use of ambient noises in the prison, to the rush of LFE when a physical impact hits someone. Solid in every department, it’s one of the best parts of the entire set here.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=49833[/img]• Behind the Scenes of the Trailer
• Policing the All Powerful: Envisioning and Filming Powers
• Deleted Scenes
• From One Visual Medium to Another: The Art and Adaptation of Powers
“Powers” got off to a bit of a rocky start in season 1, but it certainly has a lot of promise. Especially with strong hints that Wolfe and Christian’s hidden powers will take up a much larger portion of the upcoming season 2. I’m just hoping that the story bloat and voracious need to cram every bit of extraneous plot devices from the comic is toned down a bit for the next year as I would like to see the characters grow just a bit more without being bogged down by a myriad of different plot devices that may work on paper, but not on screen. Audio and video for this release are top notch, and the extras surprisingly decent, leaving me with a solid recommendation as a good rental. You may or may not like the rather unique take on the superhero genre, but it is well worth at least checking out.
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Eddie Izzard, Michelle Forbes
Created by: Charlie Huston, Brian Bendis
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA
Runtime: 437 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Buy Powers: Season 1 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Out
More about Mike