Tag Archives: alien

#25 ‘Prometheus’ (2012)

Fass obviously saw his future wang endowment after gazing into his cosmic crystal ball

Cast:-

*Noomi Rapace

*Michael Fassbender

*Charlize Theron

*Logan Marshall-Green

*Idris Elba

Director:- Ridley Scott

MILD SPOILER ALERT!

Without question, Prometheus is the most anticipated movie of 2012 – argue with it what you will.. But it’s a cold hard fact. Namely because it heralds the return to the sci-fi genre of one Sir Ridley Scott – one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. And after over 30 years since his first sci-fi feature, Alien, Mr Scott returns to the franchise that chained one of the greatest film series of our time. But has he, and such a wonderfully talented cast delivered what we’ve eagerly been anticipating?

In a nutshell – Prometheus is a sci-fi spectacle that delves into one of the most posed questions by the human race. Where do we come from? After discovering ancient markings courtesy of ancient civilisations that have a striking parallel – Doctors Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) lead a 17-strong expedition paid by the Weyland Corporation to investigate a distant planet literally written in the stars, in the hope of finding the answers they seek to the beginnings of human life.

On a production standpoint – Prometheus is visually astounding. Seamlessly blending physical sets with amazing computer generated imagery. Landscapes and beautifully shot vistas are undeniably epic in their scale, beauty and atmospheric effect… And give the film an extremely grandiose aura, harkening to some of Scott’s more recent work. It certainly gives credence to the frequent statement from various medias that Prometheus is a BIG film, in all its aspects and ideas. Building a whole new blueprint to work from (Yes that’s a minor spoiler, this film does bait for sequels). With a production on this scale and a superb bout of timely effort by the designers, the performances and stunt work in some external action scenes are lifted to a higher plane – far away from the craptastic green screen factory line that Hollywood have churned mile after mile of uninspiring bloke flicks on a continual cycle. A very refreshing and welcome shift for a big budget production. No doubt Ridley has set a benchmark here.

Unfortunately, that is where the film’s positive notes end. Because the film, as an entire package, is extremely disappointing.

Prometheus’ running idea of challenging opposing beliefs is highly abundant throughout the film’s first half. Irrevocably, it does nothing to drive the plot or premise of the film – leads to absolutely no character development or actual culmination, and certainly does not make for memorable, or even notable dialogue between the crew mates. A strong aspect of Scott’s ‘Alien’, was the camaraderie between the team aboard the Nostromo. As opposed to this film – With what is a rather extensive crew,  are barely even given arm’s-length to stretch their characters and are, as predicted, merely just lambs to the slaughter. Shaw and Holloway’s relationship is kind of a surprise(?)… we get a teeny bit of insight on their past during one scene midway through the film – but as a whole, the exposition police are still at the station eating donuts.  Shaw, individually, is actually given a few brief flashback moments thanks to some nosey digging of synthetic bod ‘David’ (a pitch perfect Fassbender). But it only amounts to more questions surrounding the Doctor’s ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ of there are really answers out there for what she’s looking for. It’s a real shame, as these ideas surrounding the subject are logical and reasonable – but it’s not constructively or appropriately developed. Rapace borders from passionate scientist come religious optimist (notably pitted against her partner Charlie – who is more privy to the scientific theory of humanity’s origin), to a reasonably small-scale heroine. In perhaps one of the closest scenes to Kane’s chestburster surprise in Alien, Rapace’s Shaw is subject to some pretty gut wrenching stuff. Subsequently stepping over that border aforementioned. For me, Noomi Rapace doesn’t really excel here – more a case of what she was given to work with.

Elsewhere there’s an impressive performance from Charlize Theron, as Weyland overseer, Vickers. Using her icy attributes and pragmatic nature to carry the film’s more ‘diplomatic’ moments and rather channelling franchise poster-girl Ellen Ripley. Idris Elba was a major surprise as perhaps another throwback to the early Alien movies, playing the ship’s captain – Janek. There’s a definite attitude, a groove that he runs on – engaging in some interesting sequences with the two female leads. Though his screen time was small at best, he was perhaps one of the more characterised crew members of Prometheus.

Michael Fassbender, is on another level as the ship’s caretaker/android ‘David’, who oversees the operation of the Prometheus for the two years that the crew remain in stasis. Our introduction to David is probably my favourite sequence in the entire movie. Fassbender almost seems like he’s fresh out of the mould – the mannerisms, a cold and disconcerting tone and quite often humourous nature really notches up some points. Really something. Proving yet again that he is one of the most versatile and talented actors working today.

Prometheus – though with its stunning visuals and fairly strong cast. Massively falters on its most important aspect – the story. With a very intriguing premise, and being overwhelmed with anticipation being such a huge Ridley Scott fan – I was disheartened to see such a promising start keel over near the half way hurdle. It spills out of steady hands into a structure that is fragmented and a very loosely ended narrative. Seriously dampening the efforts from the cast.

Without speculating about sequels – there’s an immediate brain wave after watching the film that not enough back story or development is given to the planet-dwelling (sort of) antagonists. Rendering the film’s last 20-30 minutes nose-pinchingly redundant. Additionally, one of the film’s most important and key moments – unfortunately destroys the entire idea of this being an Alien prequel, completely blowing one of the most mystifying aspects of the franchise’s history out of the water. Fact is, yes it is an Alien prequel, regardless of what’s been reported (sharing ‘strands of Alien DNA’ is a double-entendre, people). Even though some of the references to the franchise are incidentally misplaced that it almost seems less ambiguous and more ‘here look at this little easter egg we tacked on’.

Undoubtedly, opinions will be split right down the middle for Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction, and though the film sets out to ask the great question. We are left asking ourselves a shit load more by the end…

6/10


‘New Release Nonsense’

"CAROL AAANNNE - DON'T STEP INTO THE LIGHT!"

 
Ah 2012, a year which will bring us a return of Middle Earth, a pseudo-Alien prequel, Christian Bale’s severed spine and a ragtag team up of immense nerdish proportions. Not to mention our impending deaths, whatever. Here, I rundown my personally most anticpated movies for this year.
 
1. Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
 
Admittedly, I’m not a great lover of Tarantino – albeit two of his movies. But the premise behind this latest offering , a tale of a slave’s revenge with the flavour of a spaghetti western, is extremely enticing  – and has begun to build up a credible cast list. This could be a sure fire classic. Get ready for thrills, spills and slick one-liners by the barrel-load!
 
2. Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott)
 
A massive movie event for any film lover. One of cinema’s great auteurs, and awfully jolly nice chap Ridley Scott finally returns to the genre that defined a generation. While we’ve seen the first teaser, a quick-cut montage harkening back to the visual and horror elements that a certain movie called ‘Alien’ included… It’s safe to say that this is most certainly a prequel to the sci-fi classic that will usher in a whole new audience of fans, and, we hope, deliver a faithful testament to the Alien legacy. 
 
3. The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (dir. Peter Jackson)
 
Probably on the top of my list. This really is the big one people. Our Peter returns to Middle Earth with Tim from The Office and that bloke from Robin Hood for the big screen adap of Tolkien’s yarn of a young Hobbit’s adventure to the Lonely Mountain. The first trailer, introducing us to Bilbo Baggins and his 13 dwarf companions, and also reacquainting the more nostalgic folk with the returning Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) has got me fired up to unfathomable levels. Get some more cabinet space, Mr Jackson, I smell a busy awards season for you.
 
4. The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon)
 
Geekdom shall rule come early May when Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, BAMF Samuel L Jackson et al team up in Marvel Studio’s biggest picture to date. Story leaks have been few and far between, but some early screen shots and a couple of nifty teasers that are doing the rounds gives the impression to me that this movie could either be a super failure or a super success. My concern for this one is the dynamics… How the hell are all these egos going to work on one stage? Time will tell… Either way, there’s some serious money going into some seriously fat pockets.
 
4. Total Recall (dir. Len Wiseman)
 
Eww, remake…. Fuck this for a laugh. But seriously though – I’m rather on the fence for this one. Colin Farrel assumes the role made famous by Arnie in Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi cult classic, while Underworld director, Len Wiseman takes the helm. I’m very cautious about how they treat this visually, since the original was stunningly complex vivid in its images and effects. I’ll keep my eye on this one. GET DOWN!
 
5. The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)
 
The man who can do no wrong brings us his closer to one of the most succesful franchise revivals in recent history. For Batman’s curtain call – Christian Bale squares off with Tom Hardy’s ‘Bane’ – a terrorist seemingly hell-bent on destroying Gotham City and crushing the legacy of The Bat in turn. The 6 minute prologue introducing us to Hardy’s villain, had the world in a moment of pure hysteria… The subsequent trailer? Off the fucking chain. July cannot come any sooner.
 
So, what’s top of everyone else’s 2012 list? Please comment below or like this post. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks for reading!

#16 ‘Attack The Block’ (2011)

The Avengers.... For Nolan's realism demographic

Cast :-

* Jodie Whittaker

* John Boyega

* Alex Esmail

* Luke Treadaway

* Nick Frost

Director:- Joe Cornish

What do you get when you take 5 knife savvy, hoody wearing yobs, throw in a couple of hairy aliens and add a dash of Adam & Joe to taste?

This year’s surpise hit  – ‘Attack The Block’. Written and directed by British comedian and writer Joe Cornish. A man who had mysteriously vanished from my television screen at the turn of the millennium. To my recent knowledge, however, he has apparently been busy helping out his mate, Edgar Wright. Later steadily working away on the script for a film about a quiffed, fictitious, teenage Belgian nosey-noser.

I won’t go into the history of Mr Cornish, but, given that he has come from such humble beginnings as a flick on, flick off television comedian to one of the most promising directors in Britain. I’d say take the time to watch some of his material on YouTube with Adam Buxton.

On a small budget, and with a crop of very inexperienced actors…. Block really appears, on first glance, to be doomed to failure. However the incorporation of mild pop culture references, very realistic characterisation, and a believable setting ushers the film to a height that was probably inconceivable at the time of production – the merits of Block is suitably on the chests of the young, inexperienced cast who become overnight heroes in the inner city.

The story focusses mainly on Moses (Boyega), a 15-year-old gang leader, who causes trouble with his 4 fellow hoodlums  (who all live in the same housing estate as Moses) around the titular ‘block’ they call home. They approach a nurse (Whittaker) walking home from work, where they promptly threaten her and mug the defenceless woman. Suddenly, a meteor crashes into a car nearby – and the Block will never be the same again…

The five teens, are so in-sync in terms of diction, attire and body language of the British youth of today it’s almost impossible to consider them actors. It may sound like a negative observation, but it works to the film’s advantage. Casting an experienced group of actors with no realistic connection to their role would have caused the whole movie to cave in. Making it more of a caricature of today’s culture, a laughable (a bad one) parody. I didn’t recognise them as acting on-screen, portraying a character. They appear to be just being themselves, and seem to have great fun with it. It’s an original, simple and refreshing approach to methodically creating an ensemble – while working cleverly with friend Edgar Wright’s well-known sweet timing for comedic quips. I sincerely applaud Joe Cornish for using common sense, where most in his position would overwhelmingly fail to do so.

The film’s backdrop of an inner city council estate is obviously not the first choice for an alien invasion film. Though, it’s something that we can indeed relate to from some point in our lives, as well as the characters themselves – and again, this is what gives the film a wedge of merit. John Boyega, the film’s lead, combines the multi-facets of a troublesome teen that we can all admit to have encountered. He’s headstrong, volatile, vulnerable and ultimately very selfless. The fact that those negative and not so appealing qualities to his character carry the film is something that I found a potential limitless effect.

Ok, so enough brown-nosing….

At a short runtime of just under 90 minutes, Attack The Block is a great watch for the casual film fan. It may have faired better by adding more suspense elements to the alien invasion angle, as the only few do tend to fall flat on repeat viewings, and the occasional scary moments are watered down by the brash, arrogant comedy timings by the young cast. However, it’s an accomplished debut from Cornish. A film that delivers a suitable mix of Edgar Wright’s ‘horrordy’ (comedy and horror, geddit?) and an often scrutinised insight into the young culture of today in Britain.

7.5/10


‘Not What We Deserve… But What We Need’

So the announcement was made earlier today (4th March 2011) by Warner Bros that the sci-fi classic, Blade Runner, will become another casualty of great films…. A god damn franchise of sequels, threequels, prequels and more quels than you can shake a lightsaber at.

He definitely shoots first in this one, George...

Now, the dark times really begin…

Directed by Alien and Gladiator helmer, Ridley Scott. Blade Runner, released in 1982, starred Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer as leads Rick Deckard and Roy Batty (a special forces cop and genetically engineered humanoid respectively),  and was and still is consistently heralded for its story, direction and production. Truly paving the way for many science fiction films, television shows and computer games to this day.

From my personal viewpoint, it’s most probably the richest and boldest sci-fi film in history. And my all-time favourite of the genre. A film with depth, pure dramatic brilliance from start to end, and an amazing interpretation of a future dystopian society shadowed in a noir-inspired landscape and architecture. There’s a massive sense of gravitas throughout, although it seems that it plays out as an action film. In addition, the intricate complexities that riddle Blade Runner have made it a favourite for many cult followers and movie-goers for decades.

Blade Runner’s continued popularity today may indeed hold the key to why it has been ‘drafted’ into the forever growing sequel territory. However that’s from a financial standpoint. Which, of course I have no quarrel with. Cinema is all about the bucks, and don’t we know it. But, on the other hand – There is a line, and it’s a big one. A line that draws between one film, and another.

Today, filmmaking is not what it used to be. Not in the context of production, or acting. But more in the general ‘feel’ of the movie, what it is trying to convey, what it is trying to emote and say to us, the viewer. There is no way I can see an array of sequels or prequels bettering or even equalling to the bar Blade Runner raised. Ever. But there are franchises that it can work with, and it has. Bryan Singer’s Superman reboot back in 2006 channelled just enough of Richard Donner’s stellar and pioneering Superman films that it almost felt like we was continuing on a legacy and not just whoring it out in a dirty back alley. And JJ Abrams Star Trek reimagining totally reinvigorated the franchise and gained a legion of new fans. The likes of Carlito’s Way, Halloween, and cult teen classic The Karate Kid have been among those subjected to shoddy remakes/sequels with lacklustre stories, and little to no acknowledgement of the cannon set by their predecessors. It’s what I call the great bitchslap of the all mighty dollar. 

There are lines. And they need to be drawn.

The problems are abundant, this will never go away I fear. I’m starting to feel a great disdain toward Hollywood’s big guns. One moment I get a sense of excitement and anticipation, the next I’m holding my head in my hands. It’s such a quick transition I hardly can tell when it happens.

If production companies are interested in resurrecting a popular franchise/movie – then look no further for a lesson learned than George Lucas. A guy, who amongst his millions and millions of dollars – has alienated millions and millions of loyal fans that he essentially turned his back on. With a constant backlashing against his work from the last decade, it’s almost against all odds that converting those abominations into 3D will earn him any retribution.

This Will Happen To Warner.

With almost no original thought left in the world of cinema today, I fear only the worst is yet to come. A complete, and utter extinction of true, honest filmmaking. And an uprising of misguided and selfish oafs that will cause a mass degeneration of the one thing I hope could last forever – Real art.

The people can stop this. WE need to take OUR films back, into our hands as their rightful owner and proprietor. WE have to stop these films, that have shaped and made us into who we are today, from being casualties of greed and gluttony – All in the name of a quick buck.

This must happen now


#6 ‘Avatar’ (2009)

...Be vewy vewy quiet...

Cast:-

*Sam Worthington

*Zoe Saldana

*Sigourney Weaver

*Giovanni Ribisi

*Stephen Lang

Director: – James Cameron

 

Avatar, is a 2009 sci-fi adventure flick written and directed by the King of The World himself, Mr James Cameron. After an original treatment written back over 15 years ago, and at a time where Cameron believed film technology at the time would not be sufficient enough, he put it on the back-burner until a later time where further advancements had been made. It was finally produced and released in IMAX 3D around theaters in the winter of 2009 to an overwhelming array of acclaim. The highest opening weekend ever, worldwide.

Not bad at all.

A staggering $2,782,206,970 dollars in revenue from a near-mere $237 million dollar budget. No doubt at all, this was Jim’s gold standard. With widespread acclaim from movie-goers, and a re-release that has already made $9 million dollars at the box office – Who’s to say that this film isn’t anything but spectacular?

Me

Avatar is by no stretch a ‘bad’ film. It’s very much the opposite – Some stunning visuals (computers), nice looking alien characters (computers) and some breathtaking action sequences (computers). Ok, you see where I’m heading now… In seriousness, yeah it looks absolutely superb. Every last detail rendered has been carefully fine-tuned for maximised performance – Mr Cameron certainly had a dedicated team working on this puppy.

So, unless you’ve been under a rock the last two years – Essentially, Avatar tells the story of a Government military-run mining colony on a moon called ‘Pandora’, which is populated by the Na’avi, a native alien species. Main protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a young paraplegic (I forget how.. If we was given exposition I missed it) chosen in lieu of his deceased brother by the military and finding house and home with the Na’avi after being tasked by ‘Military General stereotype’, portrayed by Stephen Lang, to infiltrate a Na’avi camp to learn more about them in preparation for a full-scale attack. The invasion is all in the name of retrieving a powerful element, known as ‘unobtanium’ – A precious mineral.

There’s not a lack of entertainment here with Avatar. It’s stylish, pretty focussed on what it sets out to achieve and delivers the all-too familiar ‘Cameron conclusion’. It does however do its best to bind together two kinds of movies together… You do start to question subconsciously if you’re watching a sci-fi action movie or a Disney film. All the same, the Computer-Generated landscape visuals are very realistic in their several bit-appearances (for obvious filler) in the film. But it’s the Pandora forests/plant life animations that are the letdown. Too ‘fantastical’ and… magical(?). It totally sets itself apart from most of the other sequences in the film, and I felt like it was comfortable being an ambiguously stylised cartoon, rather than creating a smart, more thoughtful film with substance. The action/sci-fi scenes are very cool and worthy of its futuristic setting – most notably Sigourney Weaver’s scenes in the research labs. But it is very much tarnished by some of the ominous CG sequences…Something which I personally despise in any film or television show.

I could go on about how much Avatar has ripped off ‘Dances With Wolves’ and ‘Pocahontas’ til I’m blue in the face (heh heh). But to be brutally honest, even if I hadn’t had seen those films previously – the story is still very basic, very predictable and very, very boring. The characteristics of the Na’avi are pretty shocking, border-line racist, with a hint of irony thrown in aswell. It’s an obvious political-bashing from James Cameron and maybe it would’ve found some resonance with me ten years ago – But life goes on. I guess all we can do now is wait for the expected sequels to reign our 2014 winter….

6/10


5 Sequels That Ruined Their Predecessor

Ok, just a few picks that I, personally found suitable for this list. I’ll be giving a few thoughts on each one…

1. ‘Evan Almighty’ (Original – ‘Bruce Almighty’)

Awwww... Sheeeeet!

Let me be frank, Bruce Almighty (starring rubber face himself, Jim Carrey) was never a masterpiece, nor was it amazingly funny. But with the film being the jump start for the film career of Steve Carell, it did stir some interest – As a big fan of Carell in The Office, I decided I’d give this film a watch. The end result is a…ugh… ‘comedy’… that doesn’t even touch the sheer stupidity of Jim Carrey’s multi-digited limb. It’s just a damn miracle that Steve Carell is able to shine in other films and become lesser-known for this one.

2. ‘Alien Ressurection’ (Originals – ‘Alien’, ‘Aliens’ & ‘Alien 3′)

Oedipus Complex 101

 A disgustingly horrific way to fully kill one of the best sci-fi franchises of the last 30 years. Alien 3 pretty much ruined it all, but this one was the killing blow…. Actually no, I’m wrong. Alien 3 was the killing blow. This just beat its dead lifeless body down with a massive 40 inch dildo.

3. ‘Everything George Lucas has been involved with since 1999′ (Original – ‘Everything George Lucas was involved with before 1999′)

This picture, tells us exactly what George Lucas, as a filmmaker and what his films represented. Interest, excitement, art, honing a craft, inspiring.

Now, look at what he looks like now… Bloated, boring, egotistical, nonsensical overbearing smugness, dishevelled, piece of crap. These are traits he shares with the films he’s produced in the last decade. George, you killed your baby.

4. ‘TRON: Legacy’ – (Original – ‘TRON’)

"Anyone up for a game of S&M frisbee?"

TRON was one of those ‘kewl’ flicks from the 80’s that we all love. It’s not great now by today’s standards, but that shit was awesome 20 years or so ago. But it’s been slightly shitted on by this long-delayed sequel that would’ve been much better off being produced while technology was not as advanced as now. The first one just seems completely organic in comparison. Again, one of those CGI filled shit-fests that could’ve been so much more.

5. ‘Home Alone 3′ (Originals – ‘Home Alone’ & ‘Home Alone 2′)

Oh, John… John, John, Johnny, John, John…. I wish you could’ve died a happy man.


#5 ‘District 9′ (2009)

Get on the barby... Time for munch

 

Cast:-

*Sharlto Copley

*Jason Cope

*David James

Director:- Neill Blomkamp

Distrct 9 is a feature film evolved from the 2005 short – ‘Alive In Joburg’, directed by Neill Blomkamp. It tells the story of a stranded Alien race, who have been forced to live in sheltered, monitored camps overseen by the South African government and military. And of course, their struggle to return to their home world.

I watched the film when it was first released in cinemas in the UK, and I found it a very enjoyable film. The factors were mainly down to its setting and not adhering to the generic big USA city locations that we’re used to seeing on sci-fi/action movies. Not to mention that the film was extremely well-produced for only a budgeted $30 million dollars. I didn’t really take the time to pick out much in terms of the performances of the actors, or any underlying plot points that I may have missed out on.

I watched it again, twice in the last 10 days.

It’s absolutely astounding how a strong, positive opinion on a film can change with repeat viewings.

It’s really difficult to pinpoint one thing that District 9 struck badly with me. It’s a lot of small, niggling little aspects that began to grate slowly and steadily against my quarter-century brain. Again, minimal/hardly any spoiler here while I carefully dissect this one.

The main character is African bureaucrat for a private military company, Wikus (last name I will not attempt to spell), who is charged with the duty of unceremoniously removing the alien immigrants from their location in District 9, to District 10. But after an accident at one of the shelters, Wikus begins to resonate and form an understanding with the aliens (derogatorily nicknamed ‘prawns’ due to their similarity in appearance), and also is faced with their own struggle. Copley, who portrays Wikus in his firs big acting role, brings a degree of humour to his character’s obviously difficult mission, but his lack of experience in this kind of big(ish) budget flick does show very prominently. It was enough to bag him a role in A-Team, but I’m almost certain that this will be a serious case of typecast Hollywood. It’s a real shame.

The most obvious thing that was completely oblivious to me at first viewing, was that District 9’s story is such a tried a tested formula. Although it has been tweaked in places to give an audience the impression that it was something completely fresh and original. It really, really isn’t.

From the outset, we see a holding camp for aliens that crash landed on Earth…. That’s the straight-to-the-point concept and story of the movie, it’s what we have to go on. It IS an interesting take on a tale that has been told for decades.

 However, there’s a broad, or more obvious hint that the structure of this film is built around the concept of several different genres of film and camera work. From the beginning, District 9 appears to take an almost ‘mockumentary’ tone – With a lone cameraman supported by crew that follow Wikus as he visits the camp accommodation of the stranded species. Which is what I initially perceived this film to progress with. Almost without warning, the film then takes a different spin, and the narrative is akin to sci-fi television programme ‘Alien Nation’. Where we see the ‘prawns’ living their lives in Johannesburg through conventional camera work.

The film (minor spoiler) culminates with a CGI, Transformers style battle sequence. Which further ‘alienates’ (heh heh) us from what this film is really trying to be, let alone what message it’s attempting to give.

I can say what I want about blatant plagiarism, stolen ideas, homages etc. But District 9, aside from its huge merits in some areas of originality, interesting concepts and ideas – seems to be a confused, muddled mess of a sci-fi drama (or actioner, or documentary – you decide…). Without much emotive support from non-lead cast, or convincing reasonings behind the actions of the antagonists – it’s a fairly watchable couple of hours for a non-repeater.

6/10


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