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Justice League of America/Green Lantern: Hero's Quest
Justice League of America/Green Lantern: Hero's Quest
by Dennis O'Neil
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars HONEY, TIME TO WAKE UP, 26 July 2005
Pop quiz GREEN LANTERN fans, select one of the three options below which you beleive best relates to what you would do if: YOU WERE GIVEN A GREEN LANTERN RING. Would you: A: Decline the ring as being something you could not handle. B: Take on the mantle of the Green Lantern and fight for truth, justice and the Oaian way? Or, C: Take a long nap. If you're Kyle Rayner, the latest incarnation of GREEN LANTERN (and soon to be replaced by Hal Jordan in the comics), "C" is your choice. Kyle sleeps a lot in this book. Whenever O'Neil needs to pass time, he simply has Kyle "sleep on it" and wake up several hours later to help move the plot (what little of it there is) along. I'm not sure what O'Neil had in mind when he started this book, but by the time it ends, you're lost... just what happned and why is a complete mystery. I can fault O'Neil for not really trying, I can fault O'Neil for laying in a rather novel and cool idea about the Green Lanterns and then dropping it, but I can not fault him for being stuck with Kyle. A poor choice for a Green Lantern to begin with, he was created to "speak" the average comic reader... an artist with "real problems", living in the "real world" suddenly finding himself part of a larger more complex world of superheros, villians and alien goo-gaa's. Kyle is a dud from the first word and O'Neil doesn't so much try to write around it, but instead tries to cut right through it... and it just doesn't work. And having the book in first person helps us to get into the mind of Kyle, but it does cut us off from the larger plot and grand ideas (since Kyle knows NOTHING!, we know nothing, and anything that has a hint of sparkle is quickly passed over by Kyle as out of his mental abilities), as well as the rest of the JLA. Again, like in Carol Lay's MYTHOS, BATMAN comes across best. For some reason you just can't write a bad BATMAN, and it shows here... you'll simply want to junk Kyle and hang out with The Bat. A poor book all around and very depressing to think this is the best O'Neil could come up with. Avoid.


Xombies
Xombies
by Walter Greatshell
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars XOMBIE MOMMA, 26 July 2005
This review is from: Xombies (Mass Market Paperback)
This books is like the tides... it has highs and lows. When it's riding high, it's a very good book - fast, full of interesting ideas, some very good writing and (a few) clever twists, but when it's low... it gets real low and stays low for too long. Part of the problem with the book is that it's written in the first person. While this goes a long way with building character it does rob the reader of any real surprises. So much so that Greatshell gives the game away before you even get to Chapter One; and then for the rest of the book your're left just skipping through the pages knowing that our herione, Lulu, is going to make it right up until the last chapter and right into the epilouge and then: FADE OUT! Also, by doing the book in first person it creates a linear tunnel. Much like a black hole. There are no side events, no outside observations, we are never able to jump to another part of the world and see what might be happening there (in fact, Greatshell locks Lulu and the reader inside a submarine and under ice for far too long)... no, we're stuck with Lulu, what Lulu knows, doesn't know and nothing more. As it is Lulu never really "discovers" anything in the book - everything is told to her, to us, in the classic "last act" info dump fashion of so many books and movies these days. The shadows behind the motives leap out into the light and spell it out for Lulu and us in several long and dry paragraphs and we roll on right until the end. Some good ideas are present in the book - but to be honest, they mostly mirror books or movies that have come before it. Not the best, but some good moments, but too few and far between. For zombie fans only.


Doctor Who : Ghost Light [DVD] [1989]
Doctor Who : Ghost Light [DVD] [1989]
Dvd ~ Sylvester McCoy
Price: £6.80

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE CREAM OF SCOTLAND YARD, 26 July 2005
Although broadcast order places SURVIVAL as the final DOCTOR WHO story - it's really GHOST LIGHT that takes the final bow. While SURVIVAL ends with a more upbeat and open ended ending - it's GHOST LIGHT that really helps to tie up some loose ends, character development (Ace comes full circle here) and opens a lot more doors for the future. GHOST LIGHT is a great story - but within the WHO community there is a great divide between those that love the story and those that hate the story. I fall somehwere in the middle, but with a strong bias towards the "love" side of the arguement. Yes, there are problems with the story. What happens, why, how and to who and what for are often muddled. The story draws deep water on its Victorian roots, yet manages to whip around around the place like a over sugared two year old on skates - things just happen because they happen, with no real clear reason as to why. And by the end of the story we're not so much left with an actual ending as a musing, a personal discovery. So, if you're looking for this story to follow the same path as previous DOCTOR WHO stories and have it simply handed to you... move on. But, if you're looking for atmosphere, tension, suspense, chills and ideas - then GHOST LIGHT is unlike many DOCTOR WHO stories that have come before it. Running only three episodes, it's too short for all the material there, yet just long enough for it never to get too tired or simply run dry before the end (a common problem in DOCTOR WHO stories). There just isn't enough time for the standard padding to fill it out... it just rolls on, taking you along for the ride. It's confusing. It's thought provoking. It's a cheat. It's a riddle. It's GHOST LIGHT, and it's one of the best the series ever produced.
The DVD is outfitted with all the bells and whistles we've come to expect from the series. There is commentary and while solid, never rises to a boiling point (much of the conversation is taken up by the writer - Marc Platt - explaining the story, what was both onscreen and what had been cut, or never made it onto film). But there are some fun moments, and one glaring error as Sylvester McCoy is not present. Sophie Aldred does tell us that this is the story McCoy loved the most, so it's a disappointment he could not be on hand to share his thoughts. Missing scenes add to the story and the highlight (for me at least) was SHOOTING GHOSTS a "as it happened" look at filming. Here we get to see everything happen at once... direction, actions, actors working on lines, marks, stopping and starting, laughs, mistakes, and everyone trying to beat the clock and get the day done. An excellent feature.
If you're a fan of DOCTOR WHO then GHOST LIGHT is a must... if not for the story, then as history marking the end of the original series. A great story, excellent performances and a well put together DVD. Highly recommended.


Exhumed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Exhumed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Brian Clement

3.0 out of 5 stars $100 FOR IN THE BUFF, 26 July 2005
Although polished and professional - I couldn't help but think as I watched EXHUMED that I was watching a treatment for a bigger and better film. All the elements for both a blockbuster and a cult classic are inside, and they work... just what EXHUMED lacks is a bigger budget and a better editor.
While the direction is fine - the pacing of the film drags. When things should be moving slow, it works - but when the film calls for a quicker pace, it simple lays there. Scenes run too long, and in some of the action sequences you are totally removed from the film because the lack of editing allows you to see the actors "thinking" through their moves and lines. There is a hesitation that simply jolts you. And it gets even more strange when in the second chapter of the story (THE SHADOW OF TOMORROW) when the reporter in the story gets something like eight or nine different edits in one scene - as if he couldn't remember all his lines at once, or string two of them together at the same time - so the director has him deliver each line solo and then edited them all together afterwards... which is fine, we've seen this before in major films - but here the camera is all over the place. Up close, wide, medium, cockeyed, straight on - it just skips like a record and you're not sure if this was something the director wanted, or hoped we wouldn't notice. But you do - and you can't help but wish he had saved some of them for the rest of the film.
Of all three stories - THE FOREST OF DEATH, THE SHADOW OF TOMORROW and LAST RUMBLE - THE SHADOW OF TOMORROW is the most comprehenisve and complete (it's film noir, it's black and white and features one of the oddest moments ever put to film when the MAD DOCTOR of the piece tells us of his mad plans, his mad dreams, his mad designs for the world with his BACK TO US for the ENTIRE speech. He raves to a brick wall while the cast looks on - it seems no one told him to actually TURN AROUND and deliver his lines to the audience - very strange). The first story works very well - but needed to be ramped up. It's not VERSUS, but it clearly draws one some of the same tone and feel. The LAST RUMBLE is the most difficult - not just because the performances are pretty much across the board terrible - but that the set designs are very weak. It could either be one hundred years in the future, or tomorrow in your High School band room (you make the call).
All three stories are linked - for this is not really AN EPIC ANTHOLOGY OF THE UNDEAD - it's really one movie, but it's made up of several well known ones as well. Like VERSUS, PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE or SUNSET BOULEVARD? It's in here - all tied together with a HEAVY METAL like linking story surrounding an "ancient artifact".
EXHUMED is a good film. It's worth the time spent watching it and has a good twist and great plot (and some great moments to simply "hoot" at as well - watch for the Drunken Sailor in THE SHADOW OF TOMORROW and prepare to laugh)... it just lacks a bigger budget and a faster pace... and, oh yeah, more zombies!


Immortal [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Immortal [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Linda Hardy

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE CONVENTION OF GAMES, 26 July 2005
STYLE! STYLE!! STYLE!!! - if you're looking for a deck stacked with nothing but spades - then IMMORTAL is for you. Bold, brashy, painted wall to wall with ideas, effects and art IMMORTAL is one of those rare films that manages to get so much right, that any and all flaws are easily ignored, missed or left to slide.
While not a perfect film - it does deliver. As with most sci-fi / fasntasy films that deal with the future we often have only two options: CLEAN or DIRTY (or to put a more intellectual spin on it: UPTOPIA or DYSTOPIA) and IMMORTAL goes for the dirty, sometimes dank but unlike, say BLADE RUNNER - not the dark. The film leans more towards (and often ends up in bed with) THE FIFTH ELEMENT - and there perhaps lies its greatest flaw. While not a lift from the film - there are a number of similar themes and ideas that intrude on the story. Super-duper female. Average kind of guy - flying cars, superpowers, Gods and god-like problems abound right up until the end (there's even a MATRIX moment with BLUE and RED pills). There's also a strong vibe from a little seen film called UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD - while that film does not have anything near the kind of story that IMMORTAL does - there seems to be a ghost of that tone here as well. This is not a bad thing.
The story is at once complex and yet very direct. Things move from one point to the next in a pretty linear fashion. Everything happens over the course of seven days - but the back story has been going on since time began. But not everything is explained to you. There are moments where you'll have to make up your own mind and come up with your own conclusions as to what is really going on. I hesitate to give anything away because it's a film best watched cold (and while I've compared the film to THE FIFTH ELEMENT don't let that blind you to IMMORTAL).
The film mixes and matches computer antimated characters and live actors to great effect. While you never truly forget that the animated players are anything but computer generated - they do react and act well enough to draw you into the world. It's great work both big and small.
IMMORTAL is not for everyone. But for those that have loved this style of story telling and this style of art then IMMORTAL is a must have for any collection.


Darkfall
Darkfall
by Stephen Laws
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars JIMMY JAMMED, 26 July 2005
This review is from: Darkfall (Mass Market Paperback)
DARKFALL has all the markings of a great read. Excellent idea. Great set up. Well drawn charcters, mystery, suspense, backstory and the general sense of unease and tension as the story builds and builds... and then walks off a ledge right about the halfway point.
Up until then, there's a fantastic vibe of doom. Of things getting out of hand, that the world may indeed be in serious danger... but all of that goes out the window when Rohmer, lead man in the governments secret research and paranormal confrontation and containment team rolls through the door. He's everything we've seen before (and since this book was first published in 1992 - he's old enough now to be a zombie - so dead he is on page). Tall, blond (mentioned many, many times), he knows more than he's saying, and he's teamed with a series of people who are weak, craven, scared, and are prone to run at all the right moments so they can be snatched up, eaten, abosrbed into walls and then scream and scream and... scream. There's a lot of screaming in this book - there's a lot of rain, thunder, lighting, banging noises, glass shattering, running, hiding, running, falling, running and I think, oh yes, more running. All within the confines of one office building. In fact, it seems as if Laws suffered not so much as a writers block, but a "writers echo" as he's locked his principals in this building and is forced to simply repeat the same kind of action one hundred different ways (really - just count how many times he has to tell you how the rain looks on the windows, or how the DARKFALL storm swirls, revolves or turns around the office building) until we reach the end... which never seems to arrive. And the suddenly it does... close book.
There's gore. There's creep. There's strange - it's all in here, and it's shame that this book centered on one building and just a handful of people. Rohmer is cardboard. Cardiff, the hero, is at first well textured and vibrant - but then reduced to simply "hero" and put through the motions. Anyone else is simply along for the ride, or to be put into harms away either to add to the body count or be saved. Typical stuff for such a book that started off so cracker-jack. Worth reading right up until Rohmer makes his grand entrance, after that... you walk alone.


Shallow Ground [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Shallow Ground [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Timothy V. Murphy

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THICKEN YOUR COFFEE, SIR?, 26 July 2005
SHALLOW GROUND will surprise you.
It has all the hallmarks of a typical serial killer film, mixed with all the earmarks of a supernatural thriller - both of which are then framed by your standard FRIDAY THE 13TH set up and pay off, and if memory serves - a little seen 80's horror film called HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (if you've seen the film, when you reach the payoff in SHALLOW GROUND - you'll know exactly what I'm talking about - it's a welcome return). SHALLOW GROUND should not work because it really is all over the map, yet the story does drive directly from start to finish with one focus. It's not this focus that is the problem, it's just all the trappings that we've come to expect, and directors and writers think they need to provide, that slows the film down.
SHALLOW GROUNND opens with a solid, effective, and creepy credit sequence that builds both a mystery and a head of steam right up until when the actual movie starts - and then it stops dead. Really, if you love to watch a guy pack and unpack a jeep, then this films first few minuets are for you! But, luckily the film does manage to ditch the boxes and dive headlong into the story. The films divided focus between the "serial killer" track and the "supernatural" track plays favorites with the supernatural end, leaving the serial killer side of the film in the dust. There are simply too many empty spaces and scenes that run a few frames too long. There are also a number of scenes with no dialouge which leaves the door open for music and sound effects to fill the void. The trouble is, despite being just fine, they are often over the top and are there to, at best, mislead the viewer, and at worst, telegraph exactly what's about to happen. But when it comes to the supernatural side of the story - it really opens up. You'll be hard pressed to find too much that you haven't seen before, but SHALLOW GROUND does have its moments that are inventive and original (the fingerprint scene is a stand out) - and it's here that the movie really shines. The direction actually kicks up a notch, the perfomances seem more alive and vibrant, and while there is a large amount of gore and blood (oh, dude - A LOT of blood) it's never so over the top as to simply be just a covering to hide plot holes or kill time. Blood is so vital in SHALLOW GROUND, it's actually a character. It has personality and purpose. Also, either by choice, or by luck - the film takes a chance and leaves you with both an ending, a mystery (the supernatural side is never explained), and a "what next?" epilogue - which may leave some feeling cheated, while others may want to know more.
Commentary is included in the deal and while solid and knowledgeable, it gets stuck in a rut of explaining shots, camerawork, music, sets, lighting and locations - it's tech heavy. It's informative, but tends to grind.
Overall, SHALLOW GROUND was a surprise. Better than the promise of the box art or the quotes found on it (how or why this film is compared to 28 DAYS LATER is lost on me - neither film has anything to do with the other).
Finally I have to give props to ROCKY MARQUETTE - who plays our blood soaked mystery boy. It takes a lot of dedication to not only appear nude from the opening credits to the closing roll in a film, but to also be painted head to toe in red for it as well. There really should be some kind of award...


JSA - Joint Security Area (2 Disc Special Edition)  [DVD]
JSA - Joint Security Area (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yong-jong Lee
Offered by skyeblue
Price: £19.99

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BACK TOWARDS FRONT, 26 July 2005
Despite what Hollywood might tell you the best love stories all end in tragedy - take, for example, J.S.A. or JOINT SECURITY AREA.
By all accounts this should have been just a straight mystery / thriller with on the spot topicality dealing with one of the most dangerous places on Earth right now: North and South Korea and their DMZ. Here in the United States we have the DMV, and while the two can't be compared - it's as close as we can come to imagining a line that runs down the middle between those that have everything and those that have nothing to lose. This is a movie that should have been filled with guns, tanks, rockets, missiles, barking special operatives, red and blue wires and a final countdown. And J.S.A. does have these moments, but they're mostly in the background.
Instead, what we have here is a love story. Perhpas not in the traditional sense, but a love story all the same. And while it's boy meets boy - it's not meant to be homoerotic but instead patriotic. This is a political love story where two sides to the same coin meet along the edge and try to come to an understanding that neither of their governments, or leaders, can agree to. The South has everything, but feels empty. While the North has next to nothing, yet is filled with dreams (sweet dreams in fact - you'll know what I mean when it happens).
J.S.A. has all the trademarks of a love story. There's a "cute meet" scene between our leads. There's a goofy sidekick, a dog, a buddy / pal, two families in opposition keeping our "meant to be's" apart (who proceed to steal away each night to be together), a soundtrack, a catch phrase (of a sort - it's repeated several times in the film), food, a breaking down of walls... and then violence, scarifice, and the aforementioned tragedy. It's a dark and disturbing ending which works to draw you to the central point of the film - love hurts... no, just kidding.
The point is an old one. It's a classic. You can find it in any Civil War and you can find it in the DMZ between North and South Korea - no house, no home, no land or its people can remain divided forever. Like Hong Kong to China, like East and West Germany - at some point, sooner than we might want to imagine, the DMZ is going to have to be erased... and J.S.A. is pointing to this line and trying to rub it away (the group photo scene, both of them, are the stand out shots here - a great moment).
The central story here works. The wrap around staggers and stumbles a bit as it comes across too much like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. But taken all together it helps to keep the movie clicking. Production values are excellent and the performances from the leads draw and involve you. Stick with the original voice track as the dub version sounds as bad as a GODZILLA film.
J.S.A. promises everything on its cover (helicopters!, explosions!, fireballs!, a raging inferno!, and a tag line so old it's drawing social security: HE CROSSED THE BRIDGE OF NO RETURN! Aaaaaiiieeeee!), but gives twice as much, and twice as good, once you get inside. Excellent film. Highly recommended.


Constantine [DVD]
Constantine [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keanu Reeves
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £1.95

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE BIG EMPTY, 26 July 2005
This review is from: Constantine [DVD] (DVD)
CONSTANTINE should not work, being so divorced from its original format - the VERTIGO comic HELLBALZER, and removed so completely from the dark wit, stark horror and charm found in the original John Constantine - who is the complete opposite of a Hollywood star like Keanu Reeves.
Constantine in HELLBALZER is not pretty, not sharp. He's shapelss, lacking grace, always on the edge - but knowing where he stands, fixed between the light and the dark and the only thing keeping him in balance are his instincts, double deals and knack for killing all the right people. And while some of this is carried over from comic to the screen - little of it makes a dent on Reeves performance (and if you want to see a near dead on perfomance of what Constantine is really like - check out James Marsters perfomance as SPIKE on both BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL). We all know the jokes about Reeves being wooden - and while it's true that you could almost pick up a splinter watching his performance here, it actually almost works. But both Reeves, and the film itself, are actually hostages to style - and it's here that CONSTANTINE shines.
Sterile, bleak and clean are three words you'll find yourself repeating as you watch the film. All the edges are sharp, all the light is harsh and the darkness is brutal. Colors are muted and often reduced to simple blacks and whites (and shades in between). But the stand out is Hell itself. While meant to be be horrific, the work done here is excellent (the movie gets a much needed surge in power and depth here), and you'll find yourself actually being drawn into the setting and want to know more. It amounts in the end to nothing more than a big tease (more questions than answers), but it does really help to keep you watching the film all the way through to the credits.
The story keeps to the straight and narrow. Reeves is the star, and he's surrounded mostly by pale ghosts from the comic. We get some names, we get some idea of their backgrounds and powers, but little is done with them. They're there to get him from one place to another, answer a few questions, uncover the right clues at the right time and to then die off or just disappear until a sequel. There's some attempt to build mystery and the film does try to build suspense... but can't maintain it since the Big Bad of the picture (the Son of the Devil and the Spear of Destiny) virtaully has to walk over five hundred miles before it can even remotely become a threat to Constantine or the world. By the time it finally arrives, both we and Constantine see it coming a long way off. But the movie does try to pull a fast one at the end with the real battle taking place between Constantine and Satan. Peter Stormare's performance here is like a heart attack - sudden, attention grabbing and turns the world upsdie down. There's a good reason why Reeves is already on the floor in these scenes, if he had been standing Stormare's passion for the part would have cut him off at the knees.
Overall Constantine is a sharp looking picture with a lot of soft focus characters and plot. It looks like a lot of films you've already seen (there's a strong DARK CITY vibe going on in the film), but holds enough water for it to be something worth watching. For the careful viewer who takes the time to tie in all the background images and visual clues there's more going on than meets the eye.
I only had the single disc editon here - so all the snazzy features and commentary are lost to me. The single disc does feature deleted scenes with optinal commentary, and while nice,(I like the original ending better - and felt that the one they used for the final film could have been blended into it easily and been that much more powerful for it) neither really add or subtract from the film.
In the end, CONSTANTINE works... but only just.


City of the Dead
City of the Dead
by Brian Keene
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OB STANDARD, 26 July 2005
What's fast becoming a habit with me - I seem to pick up books that are either part of a series or a sequel and not realize it until it's too late. I've looked all over the cover, the back cover, the inside pages - pretty much anywhere and everywhere the book could possibly tell the reader that this is a direct sequel to THE RISING - but it's not there. But does that matter? In the case of CITY OF THE DEAD - it turns out to be something of a plus when it comes to reading it. All the build up, backstory, break down and plotting of the first book is all in the past by the time the first few pages fly by (although some backstory, problems and unresolved issues do crop up in later chapters) leaving the reader with just "the payoff" - an outright battle between the teeming masses of the dead and the remaining few of the living.
The largest plot point from the previous book - THE QUEST TO FIND DANNY - by his father Jim is resolved early on, from that point on Danny becomes dead weight. He's just along for the ride now and adds nothing to the story - in fact, it must be a bit of a dissapointment for Danny to turn out to be nothing more than just a kid. Having not read THE RISING - I'm sure much of the book was eaten up by the quest of Jim to get to his son at all costs. To have him just be part of the background then is a waste. I kept thinking that had Danny been older, been able to handle a weapon (although he does wield a baseball bat very well), or had some kind of story of his own he might have helped to move the story along a different track. As it is, this is a very linear story filled with often brutal violence and gore that we've all come to expect (and even to love). Some novel twists abound in the book and you get what you pay for - Action! Action! Action!
But in-between all the action(!) there's still something of a story to tell and for the most part it falls flat. Pretty much everyone is made from the same gore stained and torn cloth laid out by Romero's DEAD series. We are given a central zombie here to "boo and hiss" at by the way of OB - and he chews up the pages pretty much the same way he does people - he's over the top, too borad, boastful, loud and self assured (he's almost a Bond Villain) - nothing we haven't seen before in these kinds of books (or movies), but OB does stand out from others that have come before him (such as FLAGG from King's THE STAND) by doing one thing and doing one thing very well. While most Zombie Lords or Elder Gods would waste their time (and yours) talking you to death - OB manages to not only talk you to death, but takes action as well. He acts, reacts, moves, organizes and actually achieves his goals. The book ends on a serious down note here people - but at the same time a kind of high as well since we do have a clear cut victory. Great work there - unexpected, and much appreciated on this end.
In the end there are some great moments here (some lifted directly from DAWN OF THE DEAD - you'll know it when it happens - and a tone and feel found in John Skipp and Craig Spector's works - there is a THE BRIDGE vibe going on by the end of the book. I think there is also an homage to a short story by King called HOME DELIVERY as well), and if you're a fan of zombies, action(!), gore and dark endings - then CITY OF THE DEAD has a room ready and waiting for you.


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