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3.8 out of 5 stars
Daybreakers [Blu-ray]
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89 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2010
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Daybreakers is a breath of fresh air in the world of vampire cinema that currently consists of the Twilight series of films. I have nothing against these films, I just prefer my vampires to be badass and blood-thirsty, while maintaining that aura of supernatural coolness à la Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula. Daybreakers initially looked bland and forgettable to me, but to my surprise the film manages to pull off being enjoyable as well as bringing a few new ideas to the vampire genre. The film is not groundbreaking in any way, but it is a fun time and (for me) it made vampires cool again.

To start off, the casting is good. I don't personally care for Ethan Hawke, but he works here just fine delivering a satisfactory performance. The real standouts are Sam Neill as Hawke's boss and Willem Dafoe as a kick-ass vampire hunter with a taste for muscle cars, high-tech crossbows, and Elvis Presley. The supporting cast is made up of mostly unknowns and they turn in decent performances. The direction by the Speirig Brothers is above-average, but nothing spectacular. It's a relief to see a horror film that doesn't have that ridiculous shaky-cam thing going on. The action scenes are well-directed as well, with an unexpected car chase happening about halfway through. I must say that the cinematography is excellent, with lots of dark blues and grays in the vampire scenes and dry browns and yellows in the human scenes. It reminded me of the cinematography in the original Blade. Again, nothing new but it is a visually pleasing film.

The story itself is nothing amazing, but it's executed quite well. It is, however, interesting from both a horror and sci-fi standpoint, utilizing both genres for maximum effectiveness. As a horror film, it does well with a few scares and lots of blood and gore (another surprise for me, but I'll get to that in a minute). However, it really shines as a science-fiction film. The idea of a shortage of blood causing the vampires to panic is an interesting role reversal that I found quite amusing. It also has overtones of greedy multi-national corporations only in it to make a profit (gleefully reminding me of the Weyland-Yutani company from Alien &Aliens). There are some nifty new ideas that also made the film feel like a welcome addition to the sci-fi/horror genre. I really don't want to spoil them, so I'll be careful with my choice of words. The vampires have adjusted their way of living to not be hampered by that pesky sunlight. This is done both outright and subtly, the latter of which I found myself chuckling at the filmmaker's ingenuity. Other interesting ideas include the cure itself (which I initially scoffed at, but the more I thought about it I realized in the context of the story, it works) and the concept of what happens to a malnourished vampire that doesn't get regular servings of blood. Does it die? You'll get the answer in Daybreakers. There is also a nice Romero-style commentary on some current social and economic issues, that works well and doesn't get too preachy.

The special effects are well-done. The CGI is nothing special, though the vampires exploding after being staked was pretty cool. However, there are tons of live-acion gore effects that I was very happy to see considering the industry's current obsession with CGI. It was nice to see some Day of the Dead-style gore happening in the modern age; and if this comment doesn't make it clear, let me spell it out for you: this film is VERY gory. There's a lot of blood, guts and body parts flying around (one bit early on actually made me jump - something that usually never happens) so be warned. It's not Dead Alive or anything, but it is pretty heavy on the red stuff! Gorehounds (myself included) will not be disappointed.

Any complaints? Not really. I originally wanted Willem Dafoe to be more badass, spouting one-liners and such, but he didn't reach that level of true "badass-ness" like John McClane,Arnold or Woody Harrelson's character did in the recent Zombieland. In retrospect, I realized that this may have messed with the tone of the film so it was probably for the best. The film ended quite abruptly too. Is it too much to ask for a minute of wrap-up? But hey, neither of these make the film any less of a good time.

So, bottom line: I would whole-heartedly recommend this one to any sci-fi/horror fans. It's nothing you haven't seen before, but it's executed in a stylish and interesting manner so you'll definitely enjoy it.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 15, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
DAYBREAKERS is a fresh take on the average vampire horror tale, bordering on camp, but definitely original. Quite unexpectedly, my husband and I really enjoyed this film. In DAYBREAKERS, we find that the human race was nearly destroyed by a plague, but vampires gave them a way out. Now vampires are the dominant species on earth, night and day are reversed, vampires are going about their normal "nightly" routines, and the remaining humans are hunted fugitives. There are so few humans remaining that a blood shortage is causing the vampires to panic, and the vampires have initiated a massive R&D effort to create a synthetic substitute. if they don't find it, the vampires will mutate horribly and die. But there may be an alternative. One that will change the world of the vampires forever.

If, like me, you find vampire horror films (not teen angst films) to be a guilty pleasure, then I think you will enjoy DAYBREAKERS. Part I Am Legend, part Buffy, part Blade (but all with a twist), DAYBREAKERS brings a unique and creative story to the average vampire flick. The plot is intriguing, and the ending is surprising. The special effects appropriately scary and interesting, the blood and gore as to be expected, and lore within the film is consistent. The acting is not the best I have seen, but it is not the worst either.

For a fresh take on an old genre, give DAYBREAKERS a try. You might be glad you did.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is a reluctant vampire in a world where humans have become rare. It's a clever idea: if there really were vampires and they could spread like a virus, why wouldn't they soon run the world rather than slink around in shadows? It turns out this film shows exactly why, if they're smart, vampires would stay out of sight and wouldn't want to spread. Vampires do rule the world in this film, and human beings are the ones who have to creep about during the day, hidden as best they can from their refined and powerful predators. The problem is that the vampires are running out of humans to harvest, and without human blood they gradually devolve into something darker and more demonic, Nosferatu-style bat-like beasts with no trace of remaining humanity.

The basic plot is simple enough, and should be familiar to those who remember Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas, or the much more recent Avatar: Ethan Hawke plays the outsider from a conquering race who comes to sympathize with and eventually fight alongside the conquered race, in part because his first encounter is with a beautiful woman he falls for.

The execution is not perfect. The dialogue is full of cliches, and the final solution is all too convenient. It's a bit somber, and almost entirely lacking in the kind of dark humor or wit of a film like Near Dark. There's nothing all that memorable about the cinematography or editing, and I found myself thinking it might be more fitting in a television series. In fact there were several elements of the story that were overly compressed or unexplained, and that might have been fleshed out in a miniseries, and might have been more interesting in that medium. As it is, this is a moderately entertaining vampire flick that's different enough to be worth watching for fans of the genre and engaging and accessible enough to be a decent way for the rest of us (at least those who aren't overly squeamish) to kill a couple hours. Nothing profound or unique here, but decent bloody entertainment.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
To be entertained. And that's what this movie does- it ensures your entertainment for its runtime.

A good vampire movie is almost a rarity these days. Err, that's an understatment. A good vampire ANYTHING is a rarity these days. Ever since the Twihard movement exploded we've beem getting tons of OC-With-Wampires things. It is rather sad; I love vampires as much as the next guy and I'll be honest when I say that I began to lose that love when Twilight came out. And I almost CRINGED seeing the trailer- I thought it looked cool but just like a poor man's Blade Runner with vampires.

Well when I saw this movie, I found out how wrong I was.

Right now this movie has a love it or hate it thing- I like that. It shows that movies don't have to be for everyone. That they have audiences of their own.

Edward (not Cullen) is a vampire who works for a blood farming company. His brother is a police officer hellbent for finding humans. There are very few humans left- and a very small amount of blood. Blood is running low. Companies are now reducing the amount of blood they offer with certain products.

However, Edward doesn't like being a vampire. He doesn't like the fact that he has to drink the blood of people to keep his belly full. And he misses being able to experience the sun. After coming across a group of humans one night, he takes interest in them and eventually has a meeting set up with former vampire Lionel (played by Willem Dafoe), a human, and together he and the humans plan to turn vampires back to humans.

This is why we go to the cinema- so we can be entertained. This movie did just that. For 100 minutes, it provided some nice scares, gore, and action to add to the fun, not to mention it had a well placed amount of humor. Sure the CG effects are a bit cheesy, and it's definitely no Avatar when it comes to SFX- but that is the point. But the overall look of the film is very gorgeous- it was a total doozie in the theater. The tinted blue looks gorgeous and the night scenes are crisp, and nice to watch.

Also, the political aspect is also a brilliant factor. Vampires being a metaphor for politics. Blood being a metaphor for OIL. This movie is very symbolic of how the government is greedy as hell when it comes to oil. And also, the best part is the last 15 minutes- they fed their greed, and as a result, their greed cost them dearly.

In short, this movie is a near perfect vamp flick. It wastes no time getting straight to the point, it just gives us what we came to see. If you like vampire movies, this is a must for sure.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2010
Format: Blu-ray
I don't scare at movies easily but after seeing this one I stay away from street gutters.
But seriously, it's hard to find anything to gripe about with Daybreakers. This movie is has a lot of class in a time where tons of vamp movies are coming out, and though many of them I enjoy on a campy level, few can be considered quality. Daybreakers pretty much has it all, action, spooks, gore, sci-fi, original concept, great performances, tight script and it stays always a little ahead of you. It's great to see Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neil doing such a fun and successful project together. Bravo to all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2014
Format: DVD
Daybreakers(released Sept/09)stars,among others,Ethan Hawke,Willem Dafoe,Claudia Karvan,Michael Dorman,Sam Neill and Jay Laga'aia.This film is a pretty good vampire flick, with a nice twist.In this one the vampires,instead of being a sub class living amongst humans,are actually the dominant species.The story deals with their long term attempts at survival.And speaking of which,let's look at that.
The story finds Hawke as a blood specialist working for a pharmaceutical company run by Neill.Vampires now rule the earth with the remaining human population dwindled down to a small percentage.Because of the lack of humans from which to feed off of,the blood supply is dangerously low and getting lower everyday,as we witness vamps lining up to drink fluids that go from 20% human blood content,down to 5%.Another side effect to this shortage is that vamps who cannot afford to pay the ever rising high price,are turning back into unthinking savages(subsiders) who will prey even on their own kind.The company is bound to be the first to come up with a blood substitute.
Hawke is technically a vamp but he has never been comfortable in his own skin.On the way home from work one night he almost gets into an accident with another vehicle.It contains humans,which Hawke hustles into his own car as the police show up.After they leave the humans depart,but not without knowing his name and place of work.
Hawke's own brother is a vamp also,the one in fact that turned Hawke in the first place.He works for the military and later that night he returns from duty with a bottle of pure human blood which Hawke refuses to ingest.After a brief argument the two are confronted by a subsider, who used to be Hawke's gardener.After a close encounter they manage to kill it.Next morning one of the passengers he previously saved from the cops(Karvan)enters his house and leaves instructions for a meeting at a specific destination out of town.
Hawke drives to the location specified and meets up with Karvan and "Elvis"(Defoe).Before they can get the preliminaries over with Hawkes own brother shows up and tries to take them all in.Just then an army truck is seen heading their way.They overcome Hawke's brother and escape in Hawke's car.Once they are safely away Defoe relates his story that he was once a vamp also.One day while driving along and not paying attention to the road he slammed into a barrier at a river's edge and went flying out the car's windshield.He immediately caught on fire from the sun,landing in the river and into a culvert.He soon realized he had been cured somehow through his ordeal.That is why they approached Hawke, in order to enlist his help.Hawke readily agrees.
He is taken to a deserted vineyard owned by Karan's parents.There it is discovered that they need to control the burning process in order to effect a cure.Hawke agrees to become the guinea pig,with Karan and Defoe's help.Inside a jury rigged fermenter,Hawke indeed becomes human once more.Before the military can arrive to capture the three,they flee the scene.
Hawke gets an idea to return to the house of a friend, who he worked with for years at the pharma company to create a blood substitute.They do so and try to enlist his help.The friend takes a phone call and goes into a bedroom for privacy.After a while they realize he has called his office and Karan has been captured.Hawke and Defoe barely escape capture and flee.
While hiding out Hawke's brother finds them.He is slowly turning into a subsider due to lack of real blood.On an impulse the brother attacks and bites Defoe.The brother turns back to human.It seems the blood of the cured vamps like Defoe and Hawke will now turn back any existing ones.Hawke returns to his pharma company to turn himself into Neill in order to save Karan.It seems Neill has finally gotten his substitute and says it was never about a cure but about the money.When Neill calls Hawke a coward,Hawke's comeback causes Neill to lose it and he bites Hawke.Slowly but surely Neil turns back.They tie him up in a chair and send him down an elevator to the main floor where soldiers stand waiting.Sniffing his "human-ness" they attack him en masse.When those soldiers turn the ones behind them attack those,and so on and so on.It seems the ball has started rolling and an all out cure is inevitable.The film ends as the three drive off into the sunset and a bat flies towards the screen.
I liked this twist on the usual vampire stories.All involved did a good job and the S/FX are well done.I was especially surprised to see one of my favourite small screen nemeses in the film;New Zealander Jay Laga'aia,who played Draco on Xena,now playing a Senator here.There's a talented guy who needs more screen time on both the big and small screen.The film does have it's extraneous moments that could have been excised from the film,such as the sub story of Neill's daughter who near the beginning of the film we learn(from Neill)has rejected becoming a vamp.It is later,unnecessarily fleshed out with her capture,turning and killing.While not a perfect film(few are) I thought overall it still was quite satisfying.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s /r of 2:40:1 and is crisp and clear.Extras include two featurettes and commentary.
All in all a nice twist to the vampire mythos in which the vamps rule the world and fight for their existence,instead of being an underclass.All involved did a bang up job and I think it's a film with a nice bite to it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2014
Format: Blu-ray
The world is now populated, largely, by vampires, a situation arising from the spread of a plague initiated by a single individual human being bitten by a vampire bat. The vampires, on the face of it, want to live cooperatively with humans but with a desperate need for blood what's a vamp to do? One solution is to make synthetic blood. This is the solution that the giant corporation, Bromley Marks has invested in with top vampire haematologist, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), leading the research team. However, the progress the team are making in the development of the synthetic product is not fast enough to meet the increasing demand from the vampire public. The result is that humans are rounded up for `farming' in a 'Matrix style' industrial scale extraction complex while the research continues.

Naturally enough the few remaining humans take exception to this and form a resistance group led by `Elvis' Cormac, played by the always watchable, Willem Defoe, a former vampire, who was `cured' by being, one day, accidentally exposed to the full glare of the Sun and then suddenly `quenched' by driving into a handy lake! Driving home from work one day Dalton encounters a group of humans whose car has broken down and he offers them refuge from the vampire hunters in his car. As a result he meets Cormac who relates the incident that cured him. From that moment on Dalton, already sympathetic to the humans' plight throws in his lot with them.

The film looks good on blu ray, has a few gory moments when blood starved vamps go on a feeding frenzy, conveys a key economic principle of supply and demand, and, interestingly, makes an unwitting if timely point about the bloodsucking nature of big business in the form of evil tycoon Charles Bromley, ably portrayed by Sam Neill. The disc also has, as an extra feature, a brilliant 15 minute short film called The Big Picture, which is almost worth the price of the disc alone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
DAYBREAKERS

You know vampires have become a huge thing again which I guess makes me happy since I love them. The thing is, for the most part it is not the vampires I like, today's vampires seem to be all in love and twinkle in the sunlight. What ever happened to the guys that were evil and would um let's say burn in the sunlight. Well let me stop being so one dimensional since I tend to think I am all for something new. With that said there is finally something new in the vampire world that I like, this wonderful film and even better DVD.

It was not that long ago we were watching this in the theaters and absolutely loved it and just like I hoped the DVD release was great. But we will get to that later, let's talk about the film. The film is set in the not to distant future, ten years or something like that, and the entire population is made up of vampires. Yes you read that right and there are only about 5% of humans left to feed on. The crazy thing is that all of them were at one point human and were turned because of a virus, a pandemic. With such a low percentile left the food supply for the vampires is dwindling , so an alternative is being worked on by the top researchers the population has. One of those vampires is Edward Dalton [Ethan Hawke] who is sympathetic towards the humans, in fact he wants to be one. He has his military little brother to thank for changing him, I guess they don't get along much.

There is also another problem out there, if they don't get enough blood in them they start to mutate into creatures called subsiders. These vampires resemble bats and are very vicious, even attacking and killing "normal" vampires in order to survive. Naturally that puts pressure on the company he works for Bromley Marks and its owner Charles Bromley (Sam Neill), who puts pressure on him. But it is after a chance encounter with a group of humans that Edward realizes he must do more for them. Well actually it is when they show up at his place asking him for help. It is after this he meets a human named Elvis [Willem Dafoe], who once was a vampire himself. Turns out after some exposure to sunlight while being thrown from his car into water he was cured of the disease.

So they team together to find a way to duplicate the effects in a controlled environment, were Edward eventually cures himself. During all of this the vampire's military is still hunting down humans for the harvest. The company still makes most of its money by the blood harvesting they do. But when Edward returns to let his boss in on the cure it turns out Bromley is not interested. He likes things the way they are and wants vampires to continue to rule over the world. What is a former vampire to do in such a situation?

Written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig who previously made the independent film "Undead" did a masterful job with this film. The idea to the story all the way to the actual script was great in my opinion. Plus the look of the film is great with a lot of interesting characters to fill in this world. Depending on your taste you probably either loved or hated their first film "Undead" but either way I am sure you could see the potential these two had. I think they are realizing that potential very quickly with such a great film like this, can't wait to see what they next.

With such great characters you have to have actors to bring them to life, and we have that here. Ethan Hawke who when I first had seen the trailers for this seemed out of place for this type of film really surprised me. He did an excellent and was really the right choice to play our lead in this film, in fact the more I think about it he didn't seem out of place I was just in a bad place at that time. He is the right type of person to play the sympathetic character in this, so well done. On the flip side Sam Neill was perfect as the business man that is all about just that, business. He is one of those types who likes his business because business is good, you know that type. And of course you know the great Willem Dafoe is perfect in this and I really love his back story here a lot. Over all the entire cast did an excellent job on this, really they did.

Now if there is any flaw to this film it is that the subsiders are not explored enough, there is so much more there. I found these creatures to be highly interesting and felt they need to be explored more, but perhaps a sequel is what we need. Maybe as the world is being brought back to normal these subsiders need to be rounded up and exterminated. Also add in that all those who want to remain vampires will eventually turn so they are also still a threat. Still the fact that this is the world we live in were the economy and jobs and everything is still an ongoing thing it makes it more realistic, and that helps take away from the flaw.

Still it is the EXCELLENT special features that this release has that makes it a step above others coming out. There are all kinds of features to watch, trailers and even a great commentary by the Brother filmmakers. But it is the highly interesting, entertaining, and very in depth informative making of that is great. Honestly it is one of the best making of features I have ever seen, and it is not your average10 to 15 minute behind the scenes look. It goes all the way back to when the brothers scraped money together to make "Undead" and how that lead into this. From writing it to pitching it to scouting and casting, it has a very in depth look at pre production, VERY in depth look at the production , and of course in depth post production. It even goes all the way to the premiere of the film. Were you might give this a four star rating on the film if that was all you have seen, then know that a five star rating is the least you can give the DVD/Blu-Ray if reviewed.

Also I have heard people talk about the ending, myself if asked would say it was perfect. plus who could hate one of the goriest endings ever.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2011
Format: DVD
Daybreakers was written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig. Even though it is a movie about vampires (you know those creatures that drink blood, don't deal with teen angst for 200 years, don't sparkle, and walk around in the daylight) it felt like a mixture of horror, science fiction, and a drama all at once. The concept is original in the realm of bloodsuckers as in this alternate future vampirism has become mainstream and they are the dominating force on the planet with humans nearing extinction number wise.

We are shown that vampires who cannot feed don't die immediately but turn into half human half bad creatures brought up from the original nightmarish vampires that have populated books and movies for years.
Unlike many vampires they turn into a creature devoid of most of their memories who just wants to feed on anything they can which contains blood.

Daybreakers takes an interesting approach on the idea of a food shortage that would arise from overpopulation as there is a 'blood shortage' from an overpopulation of vampires. The leading providers of blood to the populace are desperately attempting to create a synthetic blood that will be nourishing enough to keep the vampires alive and that is where we enter the film. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) plays the lead researcher trying to create this blood and is running into a dead end.

On his way home one night he gets into an accident with a group of humans who are on the run and helps them avoid the police as he doesn't wish for the end of humanity that he dearly misses. The humans are part of a resistance group that is led by Elvis (Willem Dafoe) who accidentally found a cure for the disease. They enlist Edward on a quest to cure this 'disease' that has spread across the world.

The owner of the blood providing company and now one of the most powerful men, or vampires, in the world is Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) who doesn't want this cure to exist as he was dying from cancer before the turn. He is willing to stop at nothing for both the cure to be destroyed and a synthetic blood to be created including working directly against Edward's friends and family. While Sam did an astounding job at playing a genius vampire mad with power and the desire to live forever I felt it would have served him better near the end of the film to have a little more of the craziness that he was able to display in "Event Horizon."

The world created here is a very dark and noir take on humanity. With everyone only able to exist at night and there not being a way to die the world is slightly different. Blood coffee shops are found on every corner, smoking is prevalent, and with the lack of being able to be in the sun the majority of the film is done in a very dark setting that you can't help but enjoy. You are shown, subtly, the various layers of the vampire
society as the film progresses. You are given a huge glimpse into a world that has completely changed from our society but is clearly built upon it and I hope it was able to make enough to warrant a sequel as the world they have created is nothing short of spectacular in it's original viewpoint on an age old monster.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 4, 2010
Format: DVD
Daybreakers is a breath of fresh, garlic and blood scented air, that steers clear of the recent abomination of sparkly vampires, and holds true to the genre's rich history while still managing an infusion of originality.

When a shortage of blood causes widespread hunger and panic amongst the predominant vampire population of the world, global blood banks - the primary one is run by sinister Bromley Marks (Sam Neill) - begin to ration for survival and plan for a synthetic substitute, headed by Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke), a vampire who shows great empathy for his most likely food source. Meanwhile, the remaining humans scurry about in the dark like field-mice, hoping to avoid the keen night-vision of the vampire hunters who wish to capture the humans for harvesting. When Edward runs into crossbow-toting, former vampire Elvis (Willem Dafoe), he takes the steps towards discovering, testing, and implementing a cure.

An accessible plot and adequate direction by the Speirig brothers makes Daybreakers enjoyable, but not overbearing. With interlaced social commentary (substitute blood for today's oil crises) and similarities to previous vampire movies - most notably the cinematographic stylings of the Blade Collection and the cure for a "disease" from I Am Legend - the film is intelligent without unnecessary comedic aspects (although I found the concept of exploding vampire animals causing forest fires to be quite hilarious). Special effects are a mix of CGI and old-school, with almost enough to satisfy a gore-hound. Add in an homage to the classic look of Nosferatu vampires and the result is an entertaining addition to the vampire genre, with just enough action and storyline to make up for a lack of character development.

Highly recommended for horror and sci-fi fans. Not recommended for fans of glittery, emo vampires.
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