Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Perusing Pinterest, and what it can do for you

This article can also be found at The Yorker, here.

I don't use Tumblr. I'm very old-school when it comes to blogging, and Tumblr's image-heavy focus doesn't gel well with me and my walls of prose. Hell, it took me long enough to get into Twitter; it felt like blogging for the lazy... until I learned that journalists use it all the time, and I was being a Luddite.

On the other hand, I use RSS Feeds daily. For the uninitiated, RSS is a system that collates and lists updates of a website, so you can browse a list of headlines and summaries. It's a really useful system if you follow a lot of sites and blogs at once (that can't just be me, right?); and Google Reader is one of the best RSS Aggregators out there. Interestingly enough, it has a social networking feature - you can follow other people who use Google Reader, and see the items and RSS feeds they recommend. Get enough friends with similar interests together, and everyone ends up well-informed.

Why do I bring these two services up? Because one of the newest social networking sites, Pinterest, functions essentially as a fusion of the two. To describe it simply; if there is a webpage you find interesting, Pinterest will let you select a key image from it, and attach it to a 'Board', categorised by interest (Design, Food and Drink, Women's Apparel, etc.). It's has the visual aesthetics of Tumblr, but when used properly there's also a practical archive of information-sharing, à la Google Reader.

For example, say you have a quirky interest in obscure facts about animals. All it takes is a visit to the Pets or the Science & Nature categories, Repin a few images, follow a member or two who consistently provide interesting content, and upload your own Internet discoveries. Each category's page updates with new Pins and Repins; and it's satisfying to be told that original content you've linked has been Liked and Repinned by others.

In terms of usability there are a few problems (small but irritating things like the search function not having a category filter), but Pinterest does have a rather glaring issue in regards to its Terms of Service. To take a couple of quotes from the Legal & Copyright section of the site:

"By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell..."
"You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, [and] are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site..."

Essentially these rules let Pinterest do things like sell information about your interests and website-visiting habits to advertisement services and the like. This is nothing new, Facebook and similar social networking sites have done this for years. What this phrasing also allows is for users to be the ones held responsible, if Pinterest should ever get into a lawsuit over it hosting or selling any content we upload that isn't our own (which is likely to be all of it!).

The owner of Pinterest has acknowledged concerns about this wording, and it may well change in future. As it stands now, it's very much unlikely to have lawyers breathing down your neck if you Pin a jacket from H&M, but it's always a good idea to know what your rights are.
If you're interested in using Pinterest, here are a few handy hints to get the most out of the experience:

Original Content is King!
Repinning the findings of other members to flesh out your Boards is an easy way to get started, but no one likes a leech. By pinning items you find yourself, the site grows. You'll also help fill in some of the blanks that the existing community doesn't always provide. The Food and Drink section has next to no cocktail pins, and that is just unacceptable.

Always check the Sources!
At the top right of every pinned image, there's a link to where the image was taken from. This is so a picture of delicious brownies actually links to the recipe site it came from. If the link is to say, a Google image search, or a defunct/broken link, that's no good. If you just want to upload pretty pictures, Tumblr still exists.

Be Mindful of Your Image
Being a website still in beta, and one that relies heavily on user interaction, there aren't a lot of privacy options. The things you Pin and Repin are open for everyone to see. This shouldn't normally be an issue, and you would think that being careful about your online persona goes without saying, but that notion falls apart with a little scrutiny.

And for what it's worth, you can see my Boards here.

Update 25/03/12 (Nathan Blades): Pinterest has just changed its terms of service - it no longer states that it can sell items posted, along with additional measures to make it easier to report problematic content, such as items promoting self-harm. The changes will come into effect on the 6th April. You can read the new terms and conditions here.

Nero, Manchester Academy 1, 16/03

This review can be found at The Yorker, here.

As someone who's always gets on edge when surrounded by strangers in a small space, going to a dubstep concert with a moshpit seemed like a ridiculous step up from the awful clubs I've been too, but approaching the Manchester Academy with Alex Jackson as my guide and fellow explorer, we delved into the murky depths of the Nero concert.

The first odd thing of note was the age of those present. The concert was available to 14 year olds and up, and the turnout reflected that. I felt... old. But at the very least it meant I could get a good view of the stage at all times. The stage itself has a large monolith made of CRT televisions, fake speakers (there were enough huge, working speakers on the set already) and an arcade cabinet. It was like a testament to 80s culture that barely anyone present would have even experienced first-hand. With the clamouring audience factored in, it smacked of more than a little DJ worship.

Once Nero came on after an opening DJ set, I began to realise that, although the environment here was 10 times more claustrophobic, sweaty and violent than any club I'd been to, I was still enjoying myself. Because, for the first time, the music was actually something I wanted to dance to. Nero decided to open with 'New Life' and 'Doomsday', and that set the tone for the entire performance.

The set consisted of mostly their 2011 album Welcome Reality, which, if you've not heard it, I would describe as a nice lead-in to Dubstep if you're wary of the genre, but already listen to the likes of Justice or Danger. For the tracks with full lyrics ('My Eyes', 'Me and You', 'Promises'), their vocalist Alana Watson was called to the stage, taking the spotlight, while Daniel Stephens and Joseph Ray generally hid behind their equipment.

While there were some remixes worked in there (a dark and heavy version of 'Crush on You' being the most impressive), they were very subtle, you'd have to be very familiar with the album to pick up the variations. As someone who likes a bit of turntableism, I was hoping for some scratching and beat-juggling, and was a bit disappointed when that didn't happen, though that may be an unrealistic hope.

Film Review: Les Adoptés (The Adopted)

©Studio Canal
My media consumption is largely starved of quality Human Drama - partially because I'm a fan of psychological/horror, partially because a lot of my media consumption is in video games, and they tend not to handle emotional narrative too well. To that end, I do relish it when a well-made emotional rollercoaster comes along, and to that end Les Adoptés (The Adopted) knows how to push my buttons.

Maybe the reason for my appreciation is the 'Foreign Film' angle. I'm not pretentious enough to label non-English films as better by default, but it works in The Adopted's favour thanks to the cultural differences. While a romantic film about beautiful people living bohemian lives in Paris is nothing new, it feels just that little more understated compared to how Hollywood might handle it.

The plot follows sisters Marine (Marie Denarnaud) and Lisa (Mélanie Laurent), equally raising Lisa's child, Léo. Marine is actually adopted, but it's never proved a problem for the pair, having been best friends since childhood. Then, when Marine meets Alex (Denis Menochet), a ruggedly handsome (and I do mean handsome) food critic, Marie has to juggle the love of her life, and the fear of shattering the status-quo with her sister.

So far, so stereotypical, right? But there's a catch - at the end of the first act, Marine is suddenly out of the picture, and the narrative focuses on Lisa and Alex instead. The shift in tone is hardly whiplash, but it's clear that The Adopted isn't going to finish how it started out.

Still, the writing is definitely great at keeping pace. Dialogue is witty, especially that from Lisa's mother, Millie (Clémentine Célarié); possibly owed to a well-localised subtitles translation. I found myself enjoying the character ups-and-downs for the 100 minutes without thinking of how much longer the film was. That said, while the film's events were kept snappy from scene-to-scene, the actual sense of time progression was really vague. Knowing how much time passes over the course of the second act would do a lot more for empathising with the cast.

What really bowled me over was me not loathing Léo. Young children in cinema are, as a rule, entirely insufferable; both on screen and in the seats. And yet, i found myself largely tolerating this kid; even finding him somewhat... cute. How appalling; I must be going soft.

The Adopted is definitely a cheesy drama, but most likely more so by French standards than British. If you're looking for something relaxing but still engaging, this should be your film to watch this week.

This review can be found at The Yorker, here.

Author in Profile: Jasper Fforde

You can find this feature at The Yorker, here.

With a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy works, there's a heavy emphasis on world-building in lieu of character development. Call it an artefact of Tolkien's impact on the genres, but in many cases it results in a feeling of extreme padding, getting in the way of story. It's not a problem for everyone, but for me it can be a real deal breaker.

There are authors who get the balance right, however. Many are familiar with Douglas Adams and his devoting of whole chapters to fantastical encyclopaedia entries; but in his passing we now have Jasper Fforde and his wonderfully meta takes on getting us involved in his worlds.

Jasper Fforde (51) has a knack for taking a ridiculous idea, turning it into a straight-laced aspect of his fictional worlds, and just rolling with it. Did you know that talking bears have an underground porridge and honeycomb criminal ring? The Fourth Bear will tell you all you need to know. Did it cross your mind that British society in the distant and/or parallel future consider dancing a sordid and saucy act (not to mention a society where everyone is ranked by their ability to perceive colours)? It's common knowledge in Shades of Grey.

His main series, the Thursday Next novels stand out as both his strongest writing and the biggest display of his love of literature, if not just his love of the Meta. The series, starting the The Eyre Affair are centred around the idea of writing and storytelling having otherworldly production and mechanics beyond the authors that wrote them. The process of reading is powered by Operating systems, characters have to physically act out a book as it's read, and best of all, there's a police force - Jurisfiction - to keep the Book World in safe running order. Move over Steampunk, this is a Book-punk setting through and through.

And of course, I can't avoid mentioning the glorious torrent of puns. This may be something of a personal bias, but I adore the use of puns for names, and in that regard Fforde definitely doesn't disappoint. Where else would I find a villain called Jack Schitt; or a side character called Floyd Pinken; or a pun set up that takes half a novel and is so awful the characters themselves complain about it?
As with any popular Science Fiction Work, it would be disingenuous to not mention the fans. My earlier comparison to Douglas Adams is apt, as there's the die-hard subsection of the readership; to the point where a fan-made convention, the Fforde Ffiesta (har har) that happens every June. Held in Swindon (the setting for the Thursday Next novels), they're as off-beat and pun-filled as you'd expect.

Unfortunately I haven't read Fforde's other independent series The Last Dragonslayer (due to them being Young Adult novels, though I shouldn't let that stop me), but I would be very surprised if they lacked the fast-paced wit, quirky settings, and unabashed dorkiness that makes his other works shine.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ugly on the inside: Girl Model review

This review can be found at The Yorker, here.

I would say it's relatively common knowledge that the fashion advertising industry is toxic. In addition to all the body-shaming and the increasingly unrealistic and creepy 'standards' of beauty, you don't even need to go into gender studies theory to notice the exploitation and manipulation of everyone involved.

With that in mind, Girl Model, a documentary film about how model scouting works and the quality of life for the models, is very clear about the tone it's going to supply.

©wiki commons
Focusing on Nadya, a young Russian girl aiming to be a model, and Ashley, a scout tasked with finding models for the Japanese market, the film follows Nadya's story chronologically, switching to Ashley every now and again as something of a Greek Chorus - Ashley was a model herself when she was 18, and her experience has affected her; maybe even broken her.

The idea that the modelling industry is problematic is always present, but not always overt. In the very first scene the camera pans around a room full of Siberian girls for an initial try-out, almost all of them look scared and self-concious, standing around awkwardly in bikinis and bathing suits, only smiling (awkwardly) when they notice they're being filmed. Girls are turned down for being 2 centimetres too wide in the hips, and althoughGirl Model makes no direct reference to anorexia and eating disorders, looking at what models 'qualify' speaks for itself.

This is, of course, compounded by the constant discussion of youth and innocence as beauty. It's not a new concept - you could find countless examples in advertising that echo that axiom - but when you're told that alongside images of young girls (we're talking kids as young as 13 here), it's shudder-inducing. Ashley says multiple times that it's what the market in Japan demands, but you hope that's a sales pitch, and not the whole truth.

I personally find documentary films an odd breed - especially since I personally go to the cinema for a more pacey, tense experience; but Girl Model has its own tension. Watching naive teens get exploited should be harrowing for most, even when they (tastefully) decide not to fully discuss just how morally ambiguous fashion advertising can get. The scenes with Ashley steal the show as you slowly find out just how damaged she's become.

BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend review

This review can be found at The Yorker, here.

A lot of gaming genres are heavily targeted at those already invested in the hobby. First Person Shooters and Real Time Strategy games come with a lot of rules - both in terms of game mechanics and controls - that prevent anyone and everyone being able to play from the word go with little prior experience. Trying to take part without that baseline of understanding is... arduous; and if you're up against someone more experienced, a far cry from fun.

The same is true for the Fighting game genre, although with some slight differences. Fighting games definitely are more accessible - back in the day, I played Tekken 3 despite not understanding its finer points. Where Fighting games become daunting is with its userbase. Long-term Fighting fans are just as dedicated to their hobby as the FPS and RTS elites are; but considerably less tolerant to new blood.

This means that if the Fighting game genre is to gain new fans (a necessity for staying relevant), the onus is increasingly put on new games to attract and ease new players into caving in skulls. To that end, Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend (hereto referred as BBEX)tries its hardest, and doesn't do too bad of a job.

As a frame of reference, BBEX is the 4th and last Blazblue title, each game adding new characters and refining the system to be more engaging and balanced. To go into the finder details would be dull; but bear in mind that long-time fans find the initial title, Blazblue Calamity Trigger, comparatively unplayable.

All good Fighting games pay heavy attention to having a diverse cast of characters - though unlikeStreet Fighter and Tekken, which base their cast diversity around global nationality; Blazblue has a cast taken from a host of anime archetypes. The cast includes magical puppetmasters, a homunculus with oversized magnetic fists, a butler werewolf, and an amorphous heap of goo hiding assorted weaponry.

Single player is robust; most of it designed to show you the ropes. Tutorials starting from the very basics, a mode to teach you basic combos for every character, and a Story Mode that lets you try out all of the cast. The story itself plays out like a visual novel interspersed with fights (fully-voiced, no less) - but the plot is a confusing mess, and painfully cliché.

I found it easy to find characters that I enjoyed playing as, and the game encourages me to improve with subsequent fights; but I profess that I am rather awful at Fighting games in general. Like all games of skill, your proficiency is all down to how hard you practice; and that's not fun for everyone. The game does offer a 'Stylish' mode, which makes fighting in a flashy way much easier for those who don't want to take the time to learn the mechanics, but I advise anyone who's interested in the Fighting game genre to ignore that function.

Multiplayer functions are what you'd expect - there are both Online and local mulitplayer modes, and playing with your friends is infintely more rewarding, as you can enjoy and improve your game together, and at your own pace.

Blazblue Continuum Shift Extend is available for PS3, 360, & PSVita (360 version reviewed).

Yorker Arts Pick-Of-The-Week Podcast (04/03/12)

Written by Anne Mellar, Catherine Munn, Nathan Blades, and Lucie Vincer.
Voiced by Nathan Blades.
Video by Lucie Vincer and Nathan Blades.

Empirical - Elements of Truth

This review can be found at The Yorker, here.

©Empirical; Image Credit: Empirical
Jazz can be a hard genre to get into if you've not grown up with listening to it. Smooth Jazz and Big Band are already somewhat niche interests, but when you get to the experimental side of things, if you're not braced for it, its easy to find yourself turned off. That said, that doesn't mean that experimental jazz is without merit for those who have an understanding of the genre that begin and end at Miles Davis.

Empirical are a British jazz band with two previous albums, the eponymousEmpirical and Out 'n' In. They're big fans of improvisation to their music, andElements of Truth is an album that embraces the idea of hiding the groove in amongst discord. The first track, 'Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say' builds up suspense and a dramatic atmosphere through whisting. My personal experience with artists who jam on the vibraphone is centered around Roy Ayers. They're used here by Lewis Wright in a different, more chaotic way.

The tracks are continuous, so the band bleeds easily into 'Yin & Yang', which demonstrates a common factor among many jazz records - song length. These 9 minutes are not a patch on the 15 or 20-minute behemoths that exist; but they're a lot calmer and performed with more groove than the first track. It still has this brooding air to it; but it's not oppressive - quite the contrary - it reminds me strongly of Detective film Noir, as it may for anyone who's played L.A. Noire.

Skipping ahead a little, 'Cosmos (for Carl Sagan)' stands out as my favourite track, and not just because of the neat dedication. It's smooth and spacey, almost soundscape-like in between main verses.
'An Ambiguous State of Mind' also stands out as being the darkest track of the album. It has a real sense of tension to it, standing out in tone from the rest of the album, but not necessarily by being the loudest or busiest. It inspires an odd feeling; not everyone wants a moody vibe from their music, but it's a nice change from the Soulful Strut side of jazz.

Elements of Truth is definitely not for everyone. If you like your jams experimentation-free, or don't fancy yourself as someone who'd like to sit in a smoky bar with a single malt whisky, then you'll have a hard time loving what Empirical can offer you. But if you're willing to take a plunge, this may very well be your new music to study to, or soundtrack to any after-dark strolls.

Not quite psychological warfare: Safe House review

This review can also be found at The Yorker, here.

Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is an ex-CIA agent who's widely respected and somewhat feared by intelligence agencies worldwide for two reasons. Firstly, he's a psychological genius; secondly, he makes a living stealing governmental secrets and selling them for astronomical amounts. This is the kind of anti-hero that you'd love to see in an action-thriller; someone capable of baffling his foes and still asserting an air of confidant dominance.

©wiki commons
Unfortunately, Safe House is not that movie. Instead, we get another loud, somewhat obnoxious action film with more emphasis on gunfights than any kind of character interaction. Denzel doesn't get to be the main character; that accolade instead goes to Ryan Reynolds, playing as Matt Weston - the keeper of a South African safe house that Tobin has been kept in to be interrogated by the CIA.

Nor is there much in the way of clever mind games, with the exception of two scenes. Admittedly those scenes do a good job of demonstrating Tobin's skills, but generally I found myself far more interested in his story and motivations, rather than the generic Milquetoast protagonist I'd been lumped with.

I suppose the worst part of action films like this is that they rely almost a little too heavily on the gun-play - so any points where there's a lull in the shooting and screaming, the pace takes a complete nosedive - a real issue when the film is two hours. I found myself dozing off at around the hour mark before being awoken to the sound of a car being crashed through something.

An odd point of note is the agency secrets that Tobin safeguards through the film. Due to the 'in the near future' setting, this McGuffin isn't as present - spending most of the film lodged in Tobin's flesh. Then, once that plot hook resolves, the impact is really rather understated.

Safe House has a decent cast, and leads with some rather interesting plot hooks, but it fails to deliver on all accounts.

Running from your relationships: Catherine review

This review can also be found at The Yorker, here.

Video games aren't too great at dealing with relationships; especially sexual ones. Often, when sex comes up in a game, it's as a 'reward'; and if the game is particularly immature, as a mini-game. In that light, Catherine, a game about relationship problems is refreshing. It's been a long time coming - Catherine saw a release in the US last summer (and in Japan earlier still), but has only just made it to UK shores.

I'm not just talking about some pastel-soft high-school love triangle, here. Catherineis about cheating, choosing between passion and responsibility, and dealing with the resulting nightmare one's life can become. Both figuratively and literally.

You play as Vincent Brooks - 32, with a dull day job and a small, slightly trashy apartment. He's been dating his girlfriend Katherine for years - but now she's starting to talk marriage, and Vincent isn't quite ready for that step. Drowning his sorrows at the Stray Sheep bar, he encounters Catherine, who has everything he wants in a woman, his dream girl. After a one night stand he doesn't remember; he is thrown into moral turmoil - how could he possibly tell Katherine about his infidelity? What's worse, nightmares about climbing collapsing towers while chased by twisted versions of his fears start haunting him every night...

The gameplay is starkly split between the dialogue-heavy trappings of a visual novel and a fast-paced action-puzzler. While on paper the two genres don't blend readily, in practice the two modes play off each other to keep things fresh.

Story segments at the Stray Sheep are compelling in seeing how the characters handle the idea that there's a curse that kills those who cheat, among other romantic ills and gender politics; but the nightmare stages break the calm by being tense and fast-paced - not to mention challenging on any difficulty other than Easy (and even then, Easy stops pulling punches halfway through). Then after a boss has bean defeated, you get to wind down the tension with the continuation of plot.

However, what I find most interesting is how the topic of sex and relationships is discussed as something entirely other than an ideal. While both Catherine and Katherine are physically attractive; they're both flawed people and put a lot of pressure on poor Vincent. Once both characters show their true colours, you feel just as worried as Vincent when the emotional and possibly physical stakes of having sex get much much higher.

The game wants you to seriously consider such dilemmas - to the point where after every Nightmare stage, Vincent has to sit in a confessional and be asked an either/or question on relationships before being whisked away to the next area. If you're connected to the internet, you answer is compared to the first-time answers of other players.

These choices along with others made in the story go towards a Law/Chaos meter (A variation on the good/evil choices in a lot of other games, but the semantic choice of using law and chaos is relevant); though sometimes it just feels as though it's a visual indicator of your allegiance with the two Catherines. Your alignment does affect certain lines of the story; but the actual ending (of which there are multiple) is decided largely independantly of this mechanic - a shame.

Aesthetically, Catherine is mostly in the positives - if you've played an Atlus RPG before (Most notablyPersona 4) you'll recognise the style of character design and the wonderful music by Shoji Meguro. What lets the side down is that the animation can be a bit stiff at times - all the attention to detail has been put into the facial expressions.

It's always refreshing for a high-budget game to be unabashedly unique; in an industry full of sequels; and as such, I'm ready to recommend it to most who are interested in games that do something different - but prepare yourself for nightmares of your own once the puzzle stages pull out the stops.

I now hate everything: Journey 2: the Mysterious Island

This review can also be found at The Yorker, here.

Good god, I hated this movie. I have never had a piece of cinema just fill me with so much ire, so much frustration, so much... fremdschämen on behalf of the actors. My hate for it permeates every aspect of the film and my own being.

I hate how it's a sequel to a 2008 film that no one cared about. Journey to the Center of the Earthwarranted no sequel, and no one who had seen it would be expecting another one. At the showing I watched, I was accompanied by about ten 8 year olds, none of whom would even remember the existence of the original film. A bit of a waste, considering they're the intended audience.

©warner bros; Image Credit: wikipedia
I hate the cast. Dwayne Johnson may have given up one form of acting for another by entering film after his wrestling career, but I can't wait until he stops being cast for things. Josh Hutcherson being cast as the main character is a given, considering he was also in the original film, but his entire presence feels like he's trying to imitate Shia LeBoeuf (and that's not a good thing). We get treated to a Sean Anderson that's the 'rebel teen' all the kids want to be. He rides a motorcycle! He gets to go on adventures! He hates his mom and step-dad just like me! Groan.

And my loathing for the characters doesn't stop there. Sean's little escapade to the titular island doesn't just feature The Rock, but also an Objectified Female Lead (Vanessa Hudgens) and a Comedic Racist Caricature (Luiz Guzmán)! I just love it when the only woman in an adventure film is decked out in a belly top and short-shorts while everyone else gets to wear clothes that don't expose them to the elements. It gets even better when her father exists to make the kids laugh at 'the silly fat man falling down', coupled with one-liners in a meant-to-be-Polynesia accent (that funnily enough his daughter doesn't have. Don't want the love interest to be too foreign!)

Oh, and I really hate the writing. From the contrived circumstances that get them to the island (rapid solving of obtuse clues that wouldn't look out of place on The Crystal Maze); to the way the script absolutely refuses to show, not tell; to the scene at the end where Objectified Female Lead stops her father from taking a golden boulder back with him by saying "We already have the real treasure... we're together". And the line where The Rock sees a giant lizard and says "Why did it have to be lizards? Why couldn't it be snakes?" as if referencing Indiana Jones would suddenly make this trash comparable.

I hate the graphics of this movie. You know it's on the "In 3D!" bandwagon because there's a scene every 20 minutes where there's a slow motion pan and particle effects fly into the camera. It's so regular you could set your watch by it. What's worse is that none of it looks good - especially if you watch it in regular old 2D like I did. The CG effects are so conspicuous that the rest of the scenery props look defiantly fake. Plastic plants and Styrofoam rocks abound.

It positively boils my blood that people will say "It doesn't matter that this movie isn't good. It's for kids!" Children are impressionable people, and media in all forms - from film to television to games - will have an effect on how they see the world. Journey 2 doesn't have to be a masterpiece, but it doesn't need to be a cynical low-budget action film cashing in on the safe knowledge that parents are entirely willing to feed their kids junk if it will keep them quiet. It's taking locations from the works of Jules Verne! Imagine if a film encouraged children to actually read; it would be glorious.

And what I hate most is that this has already happened before in 2001 with Spy Kids. Everything from the graphics to the writing to the style of casting. I watched that film a bunch of times when I was a kid, and it just makes me want to shake my younger self and say "Dude! There are so many better movies out there!"

On the other hand, the kids in the cinema loved it; in amongst the throwing of popcorn and the shrieking. If you know someone you hate who has a child under 10, recommending them this film would be appropriate torment.