Starring Sharlto Copley, Susan Heyward, Noah Taylor, Eddie Izzard Michelle Forbes, Olesya Rulin, Max Fowler, Adam Godley, and Logan Browning
Directed by David Slade
Written by Charlie Huston
Distributed by PlayStation Network
Review by Lan Pitts
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
After years of false starts and stuck in developmental hell, Powers, has finally hit TV screens today on the PlayStation Network. Based off of the critically-acclaimed of the same name, Powers takes place in a world full of super-powered beings, coincidentally called “powers”, but not everybody uses their gifts for the betterment of mankind. Powers have been populating more and more and eventually needed their own police division for power-based crimes. Enter lanky, scruffy agent Christian Walker and rookie Deena Pilgrim, played superbly by District 9 and Elysium’s Sharlto Copley and Susan Heyward of The Following.
There’s going to be some things right from the start that fans of the Powers comic will find different, but nothing new or shocking. Walker here is lanky and almost seems beaten up, carries a lot of burden with him instead of the more stockier and powerhouse-looking design that Michael Avon Oeming originally had for him. Also, the more obvious is Heyward as Pilgrim, who was white, but remains her spitfire attitude and eagerness to explore this world with Walker. The story beats are pretty much the same so far with little exploration of who Walker actually is, though his former alter ego Diamond gets namedropped. A lot. The main focus is the return of super-criminal Johnny Royale (Noah Taylor), once thought dead, and the mystery of a superhero’s death. In this adaptation, it’s Olympia that falls prey instead of Retro Girl, who is quite alive and will probably be featured more as a foil for Walker.
The pilot starts off like any thousand cop dramas with Walker pretty much having one of the worst days of his life. His partner is killed before the opening credits so we can see the reasoning behind such a division in the first place. Which then leads to the pairing of Pilgrim with a forlorn Walker and her first taste of the Powers Division. Sparks don’t exactly fly between Walker and Pilgrim, as any cop trope will tell you, so the first half is quite formulaic and is treated as any cop show with autopsies and investigations and interrogations, but of course with some cape flair. The importance of Calista (Olesya Rulin) is shown here more as a reflection of Walker and his desires to get his powers back because he doesn’t feel whole without them which we see when we finally get to our Wolfe (Eddie Izzard) and Walker confrontation.
Now the biggest problem here, much like with any adaptation from a comic, is the explanations and characters having to become human indexes so an audience can understand what’s going on in this new world. Even Mario Lopez gets in on the action, hammering away with exposition like it’s no big deal, giving Walker’s backstory to us. Which is odd as it’s explained maybe five more times that Walker used to be Diamond and that he’s lost his powers. Once that is out of the way, the hero noir can begin and get some traction.
Powers isn’t perfect and the initial constant explanations of this world and its hierarchy of who’s who weighs the story down a lot, but move that aside and the big story gets underway. What I’d like to see if they “go there” with Walker’s real origin and the life-long rivalry he has with both Royale and Wolfe. Copley is a fine incarnation of Walker, even with his accent slipping in and out for a guy who is supposed to be from Seattle, but the raw emotion of him still coping and dealing with being powerless, leaving him feeling incomplete is right there on the screen. Hopefully with the origin stories out of the way, we can see what Powers can really do.