Screener Squad | One of Us

Screener Squad

Hosts: Justin Zarian and Various presents our newest review show: the Screener Squad. A show dedicated to covering the films too small for a theatrical release, too obscure for an average audience member and too good to ignore (or so we hope).

The original Screener Squad Theme, “Maximize Damage,” was composed by Lorenzo Giusti (credited Lorenzo Emmanuel). You can listen to the full length version, along with Lorenzo’s other work, right here.

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The Screener Squad takes on another international assignment as they venture into the weird and wild world of anime! Their target this time is the English dub film for My Hero Academia, subtitled both Two Heroes and The Movie (they use both on the title card for some reason…). The series leads the ultra-powerful All Might and his protege Deku traveling to the floating city of I-Island for a special expo to celebrate the innovations brought on by the superheroic ‘Quirk’ abilities enjoyed by most of the world’s population. However, a villainous plot looms in the background that threatens their joyous occasion. Our heroes must use their wits, strengths and a whole ton of series cameos to save the day!

As fans of the show, Nick Thyes and Bradly Martin take the lead on this review. However, Justin Zarian is also on board to see if the movie can be enjoyed by newcomers as much as hardcore fans. To their surprise, it totally is! Listen to hear them rave over this light but thoroughly entertaining romp that manages to showcase strong characters and emotional beats just as much as well-animated fight scenes.

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The Screener Squad takes on another international mission as they review South Korea’s latest epic, Kim Kwang-Sik’s The Great Battle. Based on the legendary siege of Ansi set during the Goguryeo-Tang War in 645 A.D., we follow a small Korean force led by Commander Yang Man-chun (Jo In-sung) as they defend their fortress against 500,000 of Chinese emperor Taizong’s soldiers. Unbeknownst to them though, one Korean soldier named Sa-mul (Nam Joo-hyuk) has been ordered by a general to assassinate Yang after he refused to assist in a disastrous battle.

Is this movie long? Sure. Is it historically accurate? Kind of. Is it a blast to watch? Absolutely!

In spite of its obvious influences from 300 and The Two Towers, Justin Zarian and Davey Peppers still found a lot to praise with this gorgeous and thrilling war film, including some of the best battle scenes you’ll see in any movie this year! Not too shabby for a $20 million production from a previously untested indie film director!

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Mamma mia! Justin Zarian has to review this stinky meatball of a movie called Little Italy, but he’s woefully unprepared like musciada pasta. So he has called Ben Gentile, that little Italian-American goomba of his, to help him not look like a giamope while reviewing this movie! It’s about this adorable pazzo couple whose families are acting like a bunch of ciucciosand now run rival restaurants next to each other, which means these adorable broccolini kids can’t fall in love. Can they overcome this obstacle to let the fire of romance burn between them like a hot pizzeria oven? Magari!

Trust us, what you just read above was painless compared to this movie. Surely it can’t be that bad though, right? It’s directed by the guy who brought us How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Just My Luck and…oh….well, Emma Roberts is the lead….oh….well, her romantic co-lead is Hayden Christensen doing an Italian-American accent….

…yeah, you should just listen to the review. This summation cannot do it justice.

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A South American country is throwing a birthday party for a rich Japanese industrialist (Ken Watanabe) trying to woo him into opening a factory there by getting his favorite opera singer (Julianne Moore) to perform. But when rebels storm the party and hold all the guests hostage, mistakenly thinking the President of the country is in attendance, things turn into a weeks-long stand-off. Over time, the hostages and the rebels form a sort of bond, but whether you find that convincing or moving is going to depend on whether you find yourself more on Frank’s side or Chris’s side. Listen to their review right here.

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Screener Squad: Lizzie

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave Davey Peppers forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave Justin Zarian forty-one. All skipping-rope rhymes aside, Lizzie is Chloe Sevigny’s long-gestating passion project depicting the murders of the Borden family, which scholars continue to debate on how culpable their daughter Lizzie was. Was she innocent? Did she kill them because they discovered her lesbian relationship with their servant? Did she get away with murder? All of these are interesting questions that the movie only sometimes addresses satisfactorily. Justin and Davey take a whack at reviewing this movie that, in spite of solid production values and performances, never quite delivers on its dramatic potential.

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Screener Squad: The Basement

Justin has kidnapped Shak and Brad once again to subject them to horrors from the bargain bin. This time, they’ll experience a story about a crazy person who kidnaps a guy and ties him in a basement where he seemingly tries to get him to confess to…wait….is this 3: An Eye for An Eye all over again? Not quite. This is more like if you took that movie and merged it with Split. You’ll understand when you listen to the review.

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Screener Squad: Slice

We all know that A24 as a film distributor or producer has of late become the mark of a certain level of quality. Which is why we were surprised by Slice. I mean, it’s a Slasher-horror-comedy, which didn’t seem particularly A24’s line…and then we saw the movie. I mean, what? The story follows a pizza place run by Paul Scheer that apparently is situated over the buried murdered inmates of a former asylum. This is a world where the supernatural is real and the town has a huge ghost population just walking around, ordering pizza, being treated as second-class citizens. But suddenly someone starts murdering the pizza delivery drivers. The mayor (Chris Parnell) blames it on the spectral population but something seems off. It’s up to the coolest of the pizza drivers (Zazie Beetz ) a curious journalist (Rae Grey) and a gentle werewolf (Chance the Rapper) to…oh hell, I don’t know. Listen to our review with Chris, Ben, and Marco right here.

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Screener Squad: Silencer

The Screener Squad dives into the bargain bin once again. This time, they chose this little film that not only features Danny Trejo, but also legendary UFC fighters Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddel. However, they take a backseat while we follow Chris Messner playing a retired military sniper brought in to avenge the death of Trejo’s daughter, only for things to go very wrong. Sounds like an action-filled romp right? Oh, sweet listener…you have no idea. Justin, Shak, and Brad will give you the scoop on this wannabe revenge thriller, where the majority of the silence comes from all the scenes where nothing happens.

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Screener Squad: Hostile

The future is rough. Especially for the poor woman in this movie. Stranded in the desert under a flipped over car with monsters after her, she must recall the experiences of her past to help her survive the present. Justin and Davey review this little indie that genuinely impressed them…only to pull the rug out from under them in the end. But it sure looked pretty!

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 Screener Squad: Blood Fest

A horror movie fanatic and his friends head to a horror movie festival for a night of celebrity sightings, total geek outs and maybe even a chance to get lucky. Little do they know that the people in charge of the festival have more sinister intentions in mind as they suddenly start killing the guests en masse. Can our heroes use their horror movie trope knowledge to survive the night?

Our own little movie fanatic team of Justin, Patience, Shak and Nick took it upon themselves to watch this movie, written and directed by Owen Egerton with distribution from Rooster Teeth. Does this horror comedy have the scares and the laughs to win them over? Check out the review!

A huge thank you once again to Owen Egerton and Rooster Teeth for letting our crew do that set visit as well!

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Screener Squad: The Captain (A.K.A. Der Hauptmann)

Who’s the captain now? Unfortunately, it’s the psychopath in this movie. Based on the story of war criminal Willi Herold, we follow his journey from deserting the front lines near the end of World War II to his discovery of an abandoned Luftwaffe captain uniform. Using this rank and his gift for gab, he assembles a ragtag group of soldiers for a ‘special mission’ that leads him to a prison camp where he commits and convinces other to commit, numerous atrocities to see how far his newfound power can take him.

It must be said upfront that this German-language movie is almost unrelentingly bleak and contains several hard-to-watch sequences. However, if you can stomach the film like Justin and Patience did, you’ll see the gorgeously shot, well sound mixed and overall thought-provoking tale within about how it easy it can be to do evil when suddenly given immense power. It’s not a new story, but it’s one that is well-told and still relevant today. Who would have thought this would come from writer/director Robert Schwentke, the man responsible for such ‘classics’ as R.I.P.D., Flightplan and the second and third Divergent movies? It goes to show that sometimes taking away those big budgets and going back to your roots can really pay off!

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Screener Squad: 3: An Eye for An Eye

A man and a woman kidnap another man she accuses of raping her at a party, determined to torture him until he confesses to his crimes. However, the man’s unwillingness to confess and claims that he has no idea what they’re talking about, on top of other brewing personal problems, bring troubles abound for the group. Sounds like the potential for a serious discussion about morality, male privilege and other serious discussion topics, right? Well, it would be…if it was in the hands of competent filmmakers. Justin Zarian and guest reviewer Bradly Martin took it upon themselves to sit through this movie, unprepared for how cheaply made and unintentionally hilarious the experience would be. Listen to the review to hear what happens when presumably good intentions go horribly wrong.

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Screener Squad: Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days

The Screener Squad has taken their first foreign assignment to review the sequel to the hit 2017 Korean movie Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds.In this movie, three Grim Reapers must help a young South Korean soldier clear his wrongful death to prove he was actually murder and qualify for reincarnation. There’s also some stuff with a grandpa and his grandson, a stock market fiasco, millennia-old secrets and a whole ton of terrible CG fight scenes. And yet…we didn’t dislike this film at all. Justin and Nick may have differing opinions on how much they liked it on the whole, but listen to their review for the full scoop on why you should or shouldn’t check this movie.

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Screener Squad: Leave No Trace

The Screener Squad returns to talk about, and stop us if you’ve heard this before, a movie where Ben Foster plays an unhinged person. Real shocker, right? While living in the woods of Oregon with his teenage daughter, a minor incident derails their ideal survivalist existence and forces them to find a new way to co-exist with a society Ben Foster has fought so hard to distance them from. Will his restless PTSD-fueled inner demons keep them from ever having a place to call home? Justin, Ethan, and Ben gush over this incredibly well-told and compassionate story written and directed by the team behind Winter’s Bone, that shines a light on the plight of rural America, the problems facing homeless veterans, finding independence in an increasingly intrusive society and the ways families work together to address trauma. It’s a movie currently sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, people. Go watch it!

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Screener Squad: A.I. Tales

What can we expect to see in the near future? Hopefully better anthology films than A.I. Tales. Justin and Shak took the bait from the totally misleading title to sit through four short science fiction films about overpopulation, leaving family, nuclear war and…something maybe involving time travel? Eric Roberts cameos in one of the shorts too, so you know what kind of film you’re walking into. Check out this review to hear which shorts, and which parts of the shorts, are worth your time.

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 Screener Squad: The Jurassic Dead

The Screener Squad are back to cover more horrors from the bargain bin. This time, they tackle The Jurassic Dead, a film about a crack militia unit and a group of young nerds who team up to stop a bio-engineered zombie T-Rex, a mad scientist dressed like a Sith Immortan Joe, and an EMP blast triggered by an asteroid crashing into the Earth. Or at least they think that’s what happened. It really makes no sense whatsoever! That didn’t stop Justin from getting his frequent Breakfast Pub collaborators Nick and Shak to subject themselves to the horrible green screen, laughably bad acting and overall ineptitude of this movie. Listen to the review to hear some truly epic ranting from Shak and Justin totally spacing out during the plot synopsis. You can’t really blame him when you hear about this movie.

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 Screener Squad: Director’s Cut

Penn Jillette stars as a crazed fanboy who gets involved with a crowdfunded movie so he can stalk one of the lead stars, Missi Pyle, all the while offering a director’s commentary on the movie currently in progress. And things only get weirder from there! Justin does his first ‘solo mission’ review for the podcast in an attempt articulate his feelings on this bizarre genre-blender that is best enjoyed knowing as little as possible, even if you might enjoy parts more than the whole.

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 Screener Squad: The Yellow Birds

It’s the blockbuster team-up you never knew you wanted where Han Solo and Cyclops join forces to fight in the Iraq War! Okay, it’s not nearly that interesting. Alden Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan headline this movie based on an acclaimed book following young soldiers who experience the horror of war and return only for those nightmarish images, along with a devastating secret they’d rather leave in the past, to follow them home. Justin and Ethan give you the scoop on this feature-length brooding montage and whether it is truly worth the effort to go out of your way to see.

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 Screener Squad: American Animals

Based more or less on a true story, American Animals follows a group of young college students from Transylvania University (located in Kentucky of all places) who conspire to steal a collection of valuable books from their library’s special selections. However, none of them are expert thieves, none of them have connections that would make the job easier and some of them are starting to have doubts in the heat of the moment. Can they keep their cool long enough to pull off such an audacious caper or will they fold before they can even get started? Justin, Ethan, and their friend Ben give you some varying opinions on why they feel this movie’s an enjoyable, if somewhat flawed, caper that should entertain those who aren’t into the Ocean’s movies.

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 Screener Squad: Hearts Beat Loud presents our newest review show: The Screener Squad. A show dedicated to covering the films too small for a theatrical release, too obscure for an average audience member and too good to ignore (or so we hope). In this review, Justin Zarian and Ethan cover Hearts Beat Loud, the newest indie darling from director Brett Haley (The Hero). A widower father and rock n’ roll connoisseur struggles to cope with the passing of his beloved wife, his record store’s dwindling revenue and his daughter preparing to travel across the country for medical school. However, after an impromptu music jam session that yields a catchy song, he realizes the two of them could have a budding future as a father/daughter songwriting team. However, life is never easy for wishful thinkers like him and he has to decide what ultimately will make everyone happy in the long run. With a stellar ensemble including Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons and Toni Collette, is this indie rock indie worth a trip to the theater? Tune in and feel your hearts beat fast in anticipation for this movie!

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 Screener Squad: Jurassic Games presents our newest review show: the Screener Squad. A show dedicated to covering the films too small for a theatrical release, too obscure for an average audience member and too good to ignore (or so we hope). In this review, Justin Zarian and his good friend Ethan launch this new show with a review of The Jurassic Games. In the near future, humanity has coordinated a brutal Battle Royale/Hunger Games style event where convicted death row inmates must fight for survival against the environment, each other…and dinosaurs! The last person standing gets fully pardoned for their crimes. Could this be a fun dino romp to tide over audiences before Jurassic World 2 hits theaters or is it just a cheap cash grab? We’re pretty sure you know the answer, but check out our impressions anyway!