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 The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?

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PostSubject: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeSun Feb 20, 2011 4:29 pm

The Last Action Hero: Where Are All the Young Action Stars?
By Laura Prudom
Posted Feb 19th 2011

They say that age is just a number, but that's never really been the case in Hollywood. Every actor seems to come with an expiration date (if you're a woman, it tends to creep up even more quickly) and a star must learn to adapt, or become obsolete.

For one genre in particular, though, that's no longer true. What was once an unassailable bastion of glistening, chiseled masculinity in all its sweaty glory, the epitome of cinematic style over substance and escapism over monotony, has latterly become the place where stars who failed to evolve come to die. I'm talking, of course, about the action movie genre.

The men who defined said genre (and a cinematic era) were young and vital, at the peak of physical perfection -- Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, Gibson, even Cruise. Those men are still defining a genre, even if they're a decade (or two) past their prime. Where are the young bucks, the fresh blood, the guys that women want and men want to be now? Have they hung up their handguns and tossed out their wifebeaters? Did they ever show up to the fight at all? Or have we truly reached the age of the last action hero?

Once upon a time, we believed that Arnold Schwarzenegger's rippling abs could stop a freight train in its tracks, but now he's lucky if he can keep his belly from spilling over his speedo.

And yet the news came earlier this week that Arnie was done with politicking and wanted to return to acting -- and lo and behold, no sooner had the announcement been made than the Internet came alive with rumblings that Universal wanted to kick-start Schwarzenegger's star-making 'Terminator' franchise once more. Never mind that "the Governator" is 63 and in no condition to be kicking futuristic robotic ass -- the only mechanical device he should be tussling with at this point is a walker (okay, we still wouldn't want to arm-wrestle him, but you get the point). We can think of a lot of reasons why such a return is a terrible idea.

Meanwhile, hot off the back of the geriatric spy caper 'Red' (also in line for a sequel), Bruce Willis (55) is apparently set to reprise his role as disgruntled cop John McClane in 'Die Hard 5' at 20th Century Fox ('Die Hardest'?), because clearly that well isn't completely dry yet ...

After the (frankly baffling) success of 'The Expendables' -- which was billed as every action fan's wet dream (and featured cameos by Willis and Schwarzenegger just to get audiences frothing) -- Sylvester Stallone (64) has announced plans for at least one sequel, if not two. He's shown no sign of retiring his guns any time soon, even if he shelved a continuation of his hit '80s 'Rambo' franchise to focus on being part of the muscled ensemble.

Tom Cruise (48) isn't quite as long in the tooth as the aforementioned trio (though after the failure of 'Knight and Day' domestically, someone should probably revoke his movie star card), but he's still mining where there's no more gold to be found; 'Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol' is already in production for a December 2011 release. 'M:I 3' did turn a profit and was fairly well received -- unsurprising, with J.J. Abrams at the helm -- but I'm pretty sure that no-one was really begging for Ethan Hunt's return.

And the less said about Mel Gibson (55) and his recent career suicide, the better. He's dismissed the suggestion of a 'Lethal Weapon 5' return in the past, but he might be begging to slip back into the fan favorite role of Riggs if his upcoming and long-delayed comedy, 'The Beaver,' flops this Spring ...

Even Harrison Ford (68) was lured back three years ago to brandish Indiana Jones' whip one last time in the ill-advised 'Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,' but with recent comedies like 'Morning Glory' to offset the action of 'Cowboys and Aliens,' he at least seems more willing to diversify his resume in his golden years.

I'll admit, it sounds as though I'm being unnecessarily critical of a number of actors and franchises that have given audiences countless hours of pleasure over the past few decades (and contrary to my tone, 'Die Hard' is still one of my favorite movies of all time) but sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind.

Action movies in their heyday -- the testosterone fueled '80s -- were a joy to behold; fantastical, rollicking tales of good vs. evil, where the good guys were brawny, bad-mouthed and impervious to bullets. No matter how much of a beating they took, they kept on coming, determined to stand for truth, justice and the American way against those evil Europeans/Vietcong/killer robots from the future. Nowadays, those noble heroes stand for little more than a quick buck, the last vestiges of a once-beloved franchise milked dry for every last cent; but that's a critique for another day.

The point of this article is not to wag the finger at the plague of "sequel-itis" sweeping Hollywood, but to ponder why it is that actors and studios seem so reluctant to let these characters go, why it seems impossible to make a modern-day action movie that can replicate the success of 'Die Hard' or 'Rambo' or 'Predator,' with an iconic male lead that can command a box office smash with his presence alone.

Sure, there have been attempts -- Vin Diesel came close in the last decade, but Jason Statham is perhaps the only memorable example of a contemporary action hero who is still making successful action movies, having headlined 'Crank,' 'The Transporter' series, 'Death Race' and 'The Bank Job,' not to mention his involvement in 'Expendables'. Yet ask a random passer-by on the street if they know who Jason Statham is, and you're as likely to be met with a shrug as with a nod. No movie star of the '00s has yet attained the same level of name recognition and box office clout as those iconic heroes, nor defined themselves purely through involvement in a single genre.

Is that because actors no longer want to be pigeonholed? Unlikely -- Statham, Diesel and their action compatriot, Dwayne Johnson, certainly know that it's wise to stick with their niche (or suffer the critical scorn, for example, that resulted from 'The Pacifier' and 'The Tooth Fairy'). Many stars are content to continue with romcoms or action adventures until they're deemed too old and irrelevant to carry on, so typecasting isn't a concern.

Is it simply because audiences don't buy into the action genre the way they used to? Are we bored of seeing the cartoonish action, often flimsy plots and archaic movie clichés about damsels in distress and not trusting Eastern Europeans? Are movie studios too concerned with keeping the PG-13 rating to give audiences the gore that used to be commonplace in action (but now has taken a far more disturbing turn with the advent of 'torture porn' horror movies)?

If that were true, 'Expendables' wouldn't have raked in over $100 million domestically. If anything, the success of such a mindless, by-the-numbers retreading of everything that action fans enjoyed in the '80s (presented with less wit, innovation and energy) only serves to prove that audiences are desperate to recapture the glory days, even if has-been heroes with craggy faces and deflated muscles are the only form of nostalgia on offer. That success certainly doesn't explain why 'The A-Team' flopped. Neither 'Expendables' nor 'A-Team' showed much originality, but both traded on familiar faces -- I assume the fan-service of seeing so many legendary action stars on one screen was the deciding factor in the success of 'Expendables,' but who can say?

But wait, you may cry -- what about the new genre of action movies? The one that always features guys at the peak of physical perfection, with robots, explosions, exotic locations and enough special effects to make your eyeballs melt? I say, comic book movies don't count.

There is certainly crossover between the audiences who would see 'Iron Man' and 'Thor' and those who go to see 'Expendables,' but there are also plenty of fans of movies like 'Die Hard' and 'Predator' who would turn their noses up at the sanitized violence and spandex of the superhero genre. (I'm fairly obsessed with the comics craze, for the record, but to concede that something like 'Spider-Man' could fit into the same niche as 'Rambo' is letting the action genre off too easily, in my opinion).

Even within said genre, there's been a recent surge in using older actors that the audience has a fondness for to boost ticket sales; the aforementioned 'Red' (based on a comic) was wholly focused on spies of retirement age, and earlier this week, it emerged that 'Kick Ass' director Matthew Vaughn plans to develop a new comic book movie featuring retired superheroes who have to help their grandkids save the world because their parents haven't been up to the task. Maybe audiences just dig the oldies?

Willis, Stallone et al., were in their thirties/early forties when they first got the action genre in a headlock, so I figured we could take a brief look at whether any of the current crop of thirtysomethings have the chops to become the next action hero.

Matt Damon
The most qualified of all our contenders, having made the 'Bourne' series of movies and 'Green Zone', Damon has certainly proven that he can kick ass, take names and look damn good doing it. But the fact of the matter is, Damon is just too versatile to become the herald for a new wave of action heroes. He's as much at home in dramas, character pieces and thrillers as he is behind a gun, and while we should admire his crossover appeal, he's never going to put all his eggs in the action basket, nor should he.

Chris Pine
Few men epitomize action like James T. Kirk, and Pine certainly filled that iconic command chair. After the success of 'Star Trek,' Pine beefed up his hero credentials with 'Unstoppable.' His next movie, 'This Means War,' sounds like a strange mix of action and romance, which could either be fantastic or terrible, and with a 'Star Trek' sequel on the way, Pine looks set to be surrounded by stunts and explosions for a good few years to come.

Sam Worthington
After the success of 'Avatar,' it seemed as though Hollywood might have found its new action golden boy -- 'Terminator: Salvation' and 'Clash of the Titans' were critically panned, but that hasn't dissuaded studios from investing in Worthington's star status. With high profile roles in two 'Avatar' sequels planned, along with a 'Clash of the Titans' follow-up and the lead role in the remake of Schwarzenegger's 'Commando,' Worthington is probably best positioned to become an action mainstay ... as long as audiences keep showing up.

Tom Hardy
My fondness for Moviefone's Breakout Star of 2010 is well documented at this point, but Hardy's current career trajectory means that his inclusion isn't just a case of tokenism. He's co-starring with Pine in 'This Means War' as one of two spies who falls in love with the same girl, and his dance card is already filling up with action roles. Not only will he play the villainous (and musclebound) Bane in Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight Rises,' he'll also assume Mel Gibson's mantle in the long-awaited 'Mad Max' remake, and echo Stallone's 'Rocky' turn in 'Warrior,' about a mixed martial artist fighting for a championship against his older brother.

Gerard Butler
OK, so he's technically in his forties now (as was Arnie when 'Terminator' hit it big), but for a while, Gerard Butler seemed like he was heir apparent to the action throne, with adrenaline-fueled roles in '300,' 'RocknRolla,' 'Gamer' and 'Law Abiding Citizen' helping to cement his status. He's slipped a little thanks to ill-advised romantic roles in 'The Ugly Truth' and 'The Bounty Hunter,' but his upcoming movies could help bring him back to his brawny best, with 'Coriolanus,' another historical ass-kicker, and 'Machine Gun Preacher,' bizarrely classed as an action biopic, about a former drug-dealing biker who finds God and becomes a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who have been forced into warfare.


We think that Daniel Craig also deserves an honorable mention for 'Cowboys and Aliens' and his involvement in the James Bond franchise, but since that brand is dependent more on the name of the hero than of the star playing him, he just missed out on our top five.


http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/02/19/older-action-stars/
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeSun Feb 20, 2011 5:02 pm

I think the problem is that the majority of those listed, that could be action stars, minus Gman and Sam, can ACT (Granted, I'll give Gman points above Sam...Clash was horrendous!) Hence the other actors are wanted elsewhere. Tom is like the go to guy nowadays for whatever you want-big or small.

Most 'actors' in action films aren't the ones you are going to call for Shakespeare, or anything outside of action films, like Sly and Arnie, although both attempted a few comedies and other things. But their main work, was action.

It's definitely not like that anymore.

Personally, I'd love to see more older actors do more than just play grandparents. I haven't seen RED, but I think that was just the beginning of changing the idea that after a certain age, you can't do action anymore.

I'd actually prefer to see an older version of Superman, with Jon Hamm. I think it could be more dramatic if a good story was found.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeMon Feb 21, 2011 10:51 pm

Personally, I think Gerry CAN act. Very well actually. It's just easy for some journalists/bloggers to forget that because he's started doing stuff like The Bounty Hunter, and to a lesser extent, The Ugly Truth. I'm really hoping that Playing the Field doesn't end up being another one of those Bounty Hunter-type formulaic, flakey romcoms. I'm holding out hope that Coriolanus and Machine Gun Preacher will give Gerry the chance to redeem himself (no pun intended in the case of MGP, haha) as an actor. He showed such promise a few years ago. I'm hoping he's mostly done trying to find his way as an actor, and is ready to work towards his strengths that showcase his talent and will give him the best chance for success and career longevity. All IMHO, of course.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeMon Feb 21, 2011 11:16 pm

I definitely will to allow Gman to redeem himself, with Machine Gun Preacher. Not sure about Coriolanus. Gman shines more when he's the lead. Ensembles get a bit tricky.

But compared to the other actors, like Tom Hardy and Matt Damon?

He's got a long way to go, and I think he knows it, which is why he does all the other projects he can get away with-which is very similar to the old action film stars.

If he can get paid, just simply being himself, why try? His fans love him when he's being himself. We buy the tickets (well, I haven't seen anything since LAC, skipping Gamer and UT). He's not the only one, though.

When Gman gets an award for his acting skills and not his looks, then I will declare him an actor. He's a celebrity right now, and sadly, many of us put him up there.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeTue Feb 22, 2011 12:06 am

I have to say, I loved Rocknrolla. LAC was good too, but I don't think any of it was award worthy (just my opinion).

As a person who prefers indie movies over mainstream (it isn't always the actors fault, sometimes the material just stinks to high heaven), I think one of Gerry's best works that I have seen was Dear Frankie. It's too bad it didn't get more publicity.

And I know it sounds cliche given all of the fan hype over the role, but I really think he did an awesome job in POTO. If there was ever a role he deserved an award for, it was that one. He seemed to put everything he had into playing that role.


Awards don't mean much in my book. They're something good to put on one's mantle, I suppose. But even those can be so shallow. I find awards shows to be bearable at best, gag-worthy at worst. Then again, I'm not the actor/producer/director/writer trying to win one. I'm just someone who loves to watch a good movie. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeTue Feb 22, 2011 5:23 am

Awards can be bought and campaigned for IMO. Some horizontal action, a little sucking up, "Do you know who my father is?" and boom ..... It still amazes me that Paltrow won for "Shakepeare in Love". Go figure.

DK - I, too, thought RNR was terrific and Butler was an integral part of that ensemble. But I disagree with you, Alice. I think if he is surrounded by talent, it must surely and steadily drag some dramatic technique deep from inside.


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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeTue Feb 22, 2011 2:37 pm

As far as awards, I've always heard that there is alot of campaigning behind the scenes and until recently, gifts were sent to the voters. So, I don't hold much stock in the voting. But I will confess that if a winner is one that I like, I forget all about that. Laughing I love the fact that some of the major Oscar nominees are from smaller films and I like that. It's not all guns blazing and special effects.

Donna, I so agree about Dear Frankie, Phantom and I will add The Jury. It was the Phantom that made me look into the person playing him and the rest is history. I, too, agree that he put his heart and soul into that film. I still find myself getting emotional when watching Phantom. I never understood the reasoning for the criticism of him playing the role of the Phantom. Dear Frankie, which I know was filmed before Phantom and released after Phantom, again, showed a true range of acting even in his facial expressions in the film said alot. And The Jury was great, in that he, again, showed a full range of emotions and it seemed to come to him naturally. I guess I hang onto these films too hard, as I am disappointed in the work he's done since, except for RocknRolla. That film was a good one and I think that's where I think GB played most to his own personality.

Maybe Coriolanus and Machine Gun Preacher (which I will probably not see, because I'm not a blood and guts kind of person) will bring out his acting of old and will be recognized for his acting and not his "womanizing" ways, or whatever the latest press is calling him. I think someone on this site called that to our attention after the Jonathon Ross introduction of him at the BAFTAS.

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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeTue Feb 22, 2011 11:37 pm

I thoroughly agree, Donna and PJ, about Phantom. I think that was one part he was born to play (I would say that about 300 too). He truly bared his soul and laid it all out there for Phantom. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and sexy all at once.

I've never understood the people who criticized the choice of Gerry for that part or his performance. There are only two reasons I can think of why. One, they don't particularly care for Gerry anyway, so they're obviously not going to go for him in that role or like what he did with it. Or two: POTO is one of the most beloved musicals of all time. It has played all over the world and had been (and I'm assuming still is) on Broadway forever. People who are fans of it are going to have preconceived ideas (and understandably so) of who the Phantom should be and how he should be played. From what I understand, there was an actor who played that part on Broadway for years (Michael Crawford or something?). If you are a fan of the show and associate that part so strongly with how another actor defined it, then it could be pretty hard for someone else to measure up.

As for me, prior to seeing Phantom (or even having heard of Gerry), I did see it on Broadway. I loved it and became a fan of the show. However, when the movie came along, I was pleased with his casting. I had to look this guy up (though I'll admit it was primarily because the half of his face I could see in the movie was so attractive, haha!), and the rest is history....
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeWed Feb 23, 2011 6:19 pm

Nay wrote:
Awards can be bought and campaigned for IMO. Some horizontal action, a little sucking up, "Do you know who my father is?" and boom ..... It still amazes me that Paltrow won for "Shakepeare in Love". Go figure.

DK - I, too, thought RNR was terrific and Butler was an integral part of that ensemble. But I disagree with you, Alice. I think if he is surrounded by talent, it must surely and steadily drag some dramatic technique deep from inside.


The problem is that yes, the BIG awards can probably be bought...but when you're winning awards all over the festival circuit, it's a little more difficult to be bought, IMO. It's not as easy to spread your wealth around the world like that, when you don't think such awards matter.

I agree with most festival circuit awards winners, than the big Oscars or even GG. I don't think that winning awards guarantees you great acting, but neither does winning for your looks.

In fact, I really don't consider Oscars as the last point of awards. Yes, there are campaigns, and unless your favorite actor is being recognized, it's easy to say, "Oh, the awards don't know anything."

Actually, the Oscars never came to mind when I wrote my opinion about awards.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeWed Feb 23, 2011 6:25 pm

DonnaKat wrote:
I have to say, I loved Rocknrolla. LAC was good too, but I don't think any of it was award worthy (just my opinion).

As a person who prefers indie movies over mainstream (it isn't always the actors fault, sometimes the material just stinks to high heaven), I think one of Gerry's best works that I have seen was Dear Frankie. It's too bad it didn't get more publicity.

If DF could be one of Gman's best, how come we haven't really seen more like that? I think the closest could be POTO, but then POTO is in a different class by itself. But personally, I don't think he did his best in the film. It didn't affect me like it did to the wave of fans that came through at the time.

You all have to remember, this is my only opinion being expressed. Not gospel, not the truth.

I've yet to see Gman worthy of what I enjoyed over 10 years ago.

I loved RnR, but not because of Gman...because of the great ensemble around him.

I do think he can redeem himself in MGP, possibly Burns if it ever gets made, but if he keeps doing these dumb-down comedies, because I think it's easy for him, and the fans will watch anything he does because we support him, then I'm afraid there's not much 'fan' left in me.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeWed Feb 23, 2011 6:37 pm

LadyNOLA wrote:
I've never understood the people who criticized the choice of Gerry for that part or his performance. There are only two reasons I can think of why. One, they don't particularly care for Gerry anyway, so they're obviously not going to go for him in that role or like what he did with it. Or two: POTO is one of the most beloved musicals of all time. It has played all over the world and had been (and I'm assuming still is) on Broadway forever. People who are fans of it are going to have preconceived ideas (and understandably so) of who the Phantom should be and how he should be played. From what I understand, there was an actor who played that part on Broadway for years (Michael Crawford or something?). If you are a fan of the show and associate that part so strongly with how another actor defined it, then it could be pretty hard for someone else to measure up.

As for me, prior to seeing Phantom (or even having heard of Gerry), I did see it on Broadway. I loved it and became a fan of the show. However, when the movie came along, I was pleased with his casting. I had to look this guy up (though I'll admit it was primarily because the half of his face I could see in the movie was so attractive, haha!), and the rest is history....

The problem is I DID like Gman's work, and really thought he'd be something worthwhile. It was going and when 300 came out, I thought he'd get some great roles.

Not one of the POTO fans, I did see the Broadway show before the film and wasn't impressed. It wasn't memorable. Then I saw it in Vegas and loved it, but loved the Vegas show more than previous viewings of film and stage. I have no connections of feelings towards one actor or another, regarding POTO. I just liked what I saw in Vegas.

I think up until now, I really like "One More Kiss" as one of Gman's better works, right under DF.

I don't necessarily believe that someone was born to play something, because there are always going to be opportunities for studios to revamp, redo, and reboot films. I think the time of being born to play something is past, unless the studios can be more creative.

I do see the fact that Gman's producing he's own work, that he wants to control his work, but something still doesn't sit right with me. You could opt for great works, great stories, and other things, or make easy money by making fluff films because your fans will pay to see you on film.

I don't know, if I was an actor, and had control of my own acting career, I'd probably follow people like Fiennes or other actors who produce or direct or write their own stuff.

I will keep an open mind for MGP, though.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeSat Jun 18, 2011 8:33 pm

In answer to the orgional question.

Looks as if Jason Momoa is about to become the new, young action star to blast onto the screen. At least for a while.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeMon Jun 20, 2011 12:52 am

I saw the trailer to the new Conan the Barbarian movie with Jason Momoa. I want to see the movie, but I don't want to watch Jason as Conan. His face is screwed up so tight I can't stand looking at it.
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PostSubject: Re: The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?    The Last Action Hero: Where Are All The Young Action Stars?  Icon_minitimeMon Jun 20, 2011 11:42 pm

I haven't seen the trailer yet. I did see him on HBO's "The Game of Thrones", and he did a very nice job with the Conan-type character. Of course, I'm not entirely sure that I watched his face. Wink
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