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Powers: Season 1 (Blu-ray) Official AVS Forum Review



Set in a world where humans and superheroes (called "powers") co-exist, a former power now homicide detective, Christian Walker had his own powers taken from him. Along with his partner Deena Pilgrim they work in a special homicide division called Powers, which investigates crimes involving superhumans.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

84



Details:

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2015
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 437 minutes
Genre: TV/Fantasy/Action

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect:
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Eddie Izzard, Michelle Forbes, Noah Taylor, Susan Heyward, Olesya Rulin, Logan Browning, Adam Godley, Max Fowler
Directed by: Various
Music by: Jeff Rona
Written by: Various – Based on the Graphic Novel by Michael Avon Oeming & Brian Michael Bendis
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 14 ,2015


"Real power lies within"


My Take:

What if the world was full of superheroes who aren’t actually heroic at all? What if all their “powers” were just one more excuse for mischief, mayhem, murder, and endorsement deals? Enter the men and women of the Powers Division, the brave people in charge of protecting humans like us and keeping the peace over commercialized, god-like men and women who glide through the sky imposing their power over the mortals who both worship and fear them. Based on the graphic novel by Michael Avon Oeming and Brian Michael Bendis, the edgy and dramatic POWERS follows the lives of two homicide detectives, Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) and Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), who are assigned to investigate these cases.

Based on the Graphic Novel of the same name Powers premiered on March 15, 2015 and is the Playstation Network's first scripted original programming, available via their online streaming service. I haven’t read the graphic novel but thought that this series looked interesting enough to warrant further investigation so I requested it for review. Conceptually speaking I found the premise and differing take on the superhero mythos to be refreshing. The character base is broad enough to support the essential plot and subplots. As a recurring series based upon a comic there is an elementary feel to the proceedings. Attempts at melodramatic interplay and thought inspiring themes are on the shallow side but predominantly work well enough especially given the evenness of the thematic support for both the male and female characters.

Here is a breakdown of the show’s primary characters:
  • Christian Walker - formerly known as Diamond - a detective for the Powers division. Christian was once a hero, with the ability to fly, and was one of the best, but he had his powers taken from him by his previous mentor, Wolfe. Now Christian uses his experience to help the powers division stop powers.
  • Deena Pilgrim - Christians' partner in the Powers division. Her father is a successful retired policeman whom everyone admires.
  • Johnny Royalle – A teleporter, (and another protégé of Wolfe), and former friend of Christian Walker, though it is unknown what happened between Royalle and Walker to cause their split as friends and partners.
  • Calista Secor - a wayward girl, she may or may not be homeless. She's a "wannabe" as she hangs around with powers, wanting powers of her own. She is convinced she has powers inside her, and believes they will awaken someday. She intends to use her powers on her abusive father for hurting her mother.
  • Janice, aka Retro Girl - a female 'power' who dated Christian when they were young and were the same team. Their relationship is strained after all the years apart. Retro Girl has the standard super powers of super strength, invulnerability and flight.
  • Krispin Stockley - the teenage son of Christian's deceased former partner. He feels that the more unstable 'Powers' should be held accountable for their mistakes.
  • Zora - a blooming powers kid with the ability to manipulate light. She admires Christian and is ambitious about becoming the next powers hero.
  • Wolfe - possibly one of the most powerful and dangerous villains. Wolfe has the ability to absorb powers, an ability he used on Walker. It's unknown exactly how he takes powers, as Christian is shown with a scar on his back, so it's unclear if he just needs to be close or needs physical contact. Wolfe is mentally unstable, which is why he wasn't executed. Wolfe consumes humans and powers alike, both of which fuel him. Wolfe has shown to have multitude powers which include extreme strength, speed, and regeneration which grew in strength as he consumes or "eats" others. Triphammer states in episode 3 that all Wolfe's powers stem from extreme cellular regeneration.


The narrative explores themes surrounding a world where “Powers” or those with super powers aren’t necessarily always on the side of good or evil but simply co-exist in an immoral society where “powers” are either looked up (seen as celebrities in many cases) or frowned upon but select groups that see them as a threat. As such the Powers Division investigates any and all crimes involving “Powers” especially in cases where they fall on the wrong side of the law. The pilot episode lays the groundwork for the series beginning with Walker’s conundrum over the loss of his powers and potential desire to do whatever may be necessary to recover them. His relationship with his new partner, Deena, a dedicated detective who, in addition to struggling to deal with Walker’s sometimes caustic behavior, shares a strained relationship with her father, a retired LAPD officer.

Janice/Retro Girl is among the few remaining “old school” hero types who adheres to the importance of setting a proper example while trying to make a difference. She is considered an icon and struggles to deal with the direction the world is headed in as well as her past which holds both good and bad memories, her old romantic entanglement with Christian Walker being chief among them. Johnny Royalle is an interesting character and a bit of a dark horse. Initially painted as a straight up villain it soon becomes clear that his loyalties aren’t so black and white. He has made many mistakes in his efforts to right wrongs from long ago and can’t seem to escape one in particular which involves Wolfe.

Wolfe is the series true villain and is a definitive threat to both Powers and human kind alike. His past connection to Christian and Johnny continues to raise unanswered questions over the course of the season and is the fuel that fires the show’s best interpersonal moments. The character of Calista holds a connection to nearly every other primary and has an inexplicable importance to the continuing plot. I found this to be among the series weak points which ties into my feeling that the innate context is overburdened with characters struggling with emotional issues stemming from the past. There is a bit too much drama and not enough action for action sake. There is plenty of room for potential in the show's various elements and I hope some of the melodrama can be replaced with more action and even some light romance.

Over the course of season one the storyline builds, lighting a fuse that burns toward a multiple conflagration with Wolfe, Walker, and Johnny at its center. Along the way are viable subplots involving Zora, Krispin, and Retro Girl. They are tied in well enough to underscore the primary plot but what they may or may not mean going forward remains to be seen. I didn’t find any of the performances to be outstanding but everyone seemed a good match for their respective roles.

Powers isn’t among the best original series programming I have seen but I found it to be entertaining enough to keep me coming back for more. It has been picked up for a second season so I will plan on checking in on it to see where things go.

Powers Season One comes to Blu-ray with its 10 episodes spread over three BD-50’s, with the bonus material spread over each. The keep case is of the “chubby” amaray type (with a corresponding slipcover) with the discs contained in the page style plastic inserts with the center push buttons.




Parental Guide:

The show contains language, violence, drug material and sexual content.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**



Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA



Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



Powers Season 1 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.

This 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers appreciable high definition resolution that has a satisfying glossy aesthetic. Images are stable and sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show’s sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks are deep while exhibiting appreciable dynamic range with stable yet slightly elevated contrast that rarely infringes upon fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast. Other than the presence of occasional light digital noise visible against dark backgrounds I didn’t observe any problematic video related artifacts.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, fair dynamic range and a subtle surround sound mix. Its use of spacial dimension and directional cues occasionally creates an immersive sound field although based on the subject matter I expected a more involving listening experience. Low frequency effects aren’t especially noteworthy either which again is disappointing. The soundtrack sounds more or less like what you’d hear from broadcast TV.


Bonus Features:
  • (HD) Policing the All Powerful: Envisioning and filming Powers – 10 minute featurette
  • (HD) *Exclusive* From one visual medium to another: The art of adaptation of Powers – 11 minute featurette
  • (HD) *Exclusive* Deleted scenes
  • (HD) *Exclusive* Outtakes
  • Episode recaps
  • Digital HD Copy


Final Thoughts:

Based on the Graphic Novel of the same name by Michael Avon Oeming & Brian Michael Bendis, Powers is the Playstation Network's first scripted original programming that originally aired March 15, 2015, via their online streaming service. It’s a mildly entertaining series that puts a refreshing spin on the superhero/crime genre. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring solid high definition video, fair lossless sound quality and a light supplemental set. Powers has been renewed for a second season and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of comic book adaptations.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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post #2 of 6 Old 07-13-2015, 12:19 PM
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Never heard of this show, but it looks super cheesy.

OLED is a game changer.
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-13-2015, 01:28 PM
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I watched the show and I just did not like it. I normally like superhero stuff, but this was just corny, low-budget, and cheezy, all around. I love the cast they chose for everyone, but somehow it just didn't mesh at all...

I just groaned every time they showed Wolf "eating". Looked so awful to me...

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post #4 of 6 Old 07-13-2015, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Greetings,

Yes, the effects and production elements are typical of what you would expect from a TV series. I looked past that and tried looking toward the plot points and characters.

I hear you though...


Regards,

Ralph C. Potts
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-13-2015, 05:35 PM
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People need to understand going into this show that it wasn't made for television nor even a service like Netflix. This was designed for the PlayStation Network for PlayStation Plus members. It was more of an experiment than anything to see if video game console exclusive shows were worth investing into and it did have enough success that a second season is being filmed.
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-14-2015, 12:29 PM
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Once I acknowledged it for what it was (semi-low budget superhero story) I thought the story wasn't too bad. The overall plot-line is interesting, even if individual plot pieces are often corny. Also, for having to deal with such corny subject matter, the acting was better than I had expected.

Lastly, they drop the F bomb entirely too much. I don't have a problem with potty-mouth in shows, but I do have a problem with overly repetitive words. F this, F that, F her, F him, F you , F me, etc. etc. it almost seemed like it was used incessantly to constantly convince a teen audience that the storyline was more gritty.

Still, I'll probably watch the second season when it comes out.
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