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*** Official "HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS" Review Thread


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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Paul_D

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Posted November 08 2002 - 07:40 AM

This review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will be SPOILER FREE, so proceed with confidence. Posted Image For reference, I have not read any of the books, and only seen the original film once.



Strictly adhering to its much-cherished source material, the first film set up the world of Hogwarts and introduced the movie-going public to the mischievous trio of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. While much of the original's length was dedicated to establishing Harry's past, his historic ties to the school, and the traditions, customs and dark secrets of Hogwarts school leaving a relatively small proportion of the ample running time to tell the story of the Philosopher's Store (Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S. Posted Image ), the sequel jumps straight into the narrative, and is a far more engaging film for it.

Daniel Radcliffe impressed many with his performance last year, and apart from a slight stutter in the opening scenes, is again, thoroughly convincing as the world's favorite wizard. Especially impressive are some scenes with a very funny CG character. I never even considered that he was talking to thin-air. Emma Watson (Hermione) is no where near as precocious as she was 1 year ago, and of all the child-actors she's certainly made the most progress.
Rupert (Ron) Grint's voice breakage is very noticeable and jarring at first, only. The knowledge that his moments of peril in the first film made him very popular must've gone to his head, because in this film his face is adorned with a look of terror in almost every scene. Quite funny, and thankfully there are more genuine moments of terror in this installment. A forest chase, and the final showdown make for a surprisingly heart-quickening experience. Confirming the publicity, its far more intense than its predecessor, grander, and altogether more satisfying for an adult audience.

The key additions to the cast, namely Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart, a comic-relief character, injecting the film with a much-needed foil for the parade of sinister characters, and Jason Isaacs as Lucious Malfoy, add to the already remarkable cast. All the key players are back. Richard Harris, in his final screen performance, leaves a lasting impression on the character of Albus Dumbeldore. A fitting swan-song. His absence from further films will stick out and he will be missed.

Technically, the film is absolutely superb. Williams themes (along with new music by William Ross) is rousing and emotional where it needs to be. Nothing less is expected. The sound mix is explosive and reserved in equal measure. Directional effects were amazingly clear and well-placed. Cinematography is almost identical to the first. There seem to be far fewer eye-candy shots of the school, yet its more visually satisfying than the first film. Visual feasts like the Daigon Alley, and the Quidditch (sp?) field, are hinted at this time, rather than lingered over as they were in the first. Instead the visual focus is on the more subtle beauty of the sets and costumes. This really surprised me, and pleasingly Columbus and DP Roger Pratt have opted for a more claustrophobic feel, despite the chamber of the title being implausibly enormous.

When the film's denouement comes, 140 minutes after the opening titles roll, it delivers a disappointing villain, but a fantastic monster. The Basilisk scenes are intense and very well choreographed. The creature itself is undeniably very CG-looking, but pleasantly so ala LOTR, not annoyingly so ala the Scorpion King in Mummy Returns. The effects in this second film are more effective because they're all strictly story-driven, while much of the visual effects in the first were part of establishing the grandeur and wonder of Harry's world, having virtually nothing to do with the narrative itself.

I noticed myself chuckling and grinning throughout the last 90 minutes, and didn't expect too. Although I enjoyed the original, this second adventure is on a totally different level. Although many elements are revisited, its important to note that this doesn't feel like a retread. The characters have moved forward, and this story is altogether a new adventure. The heart-warming final scene, during which the entire theater I saw the film in clapped and cheered, sets up the chapters to follow wonderfully. The central trio is now established as the books characters in human form. Anyone that has seen and enjoyed the films will have an emotional attachment to them now. I hope that the suits at Warner Bros. stick with central trio as they grow up. Otherwise a substantial part of the magical will be lost. A fantastic film, and bring on the Prisoner of Azkaban, then the Goblet of Fire.

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#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 08 2002 - 07:43 AM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



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#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Pete_w

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Posted November 15 2002 - 12:41 PM

Short but sweet...I so enjoyed this film...I loved the first one but this is just better in so many ways.
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#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Chris

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Posted November 15 2002 - 02:27 PM

I will lengthen this review later:

Better then the original in almost every aspect, very true to the book as a fan of the books, and worth seeing again.

Score is fantastic, the performance of Dumbledore is exceptional.

OK, I promised to go back and edit for real content.

I think for a lot of people, COS is going to be a bit of a let-down. I think for those who are familiar with the books, CoS is one of the most rewarding books and movies in the means of connecting the characters, setting up their growth in Hogwarts, and the real purpose of Harry. In this film, we setup a lot of crucial elements not just for this film, but for the mystique of Harry Potter.. how he is more and more intertwined with Voldemort, his questioning of his purpose, heritage, and more. We also address issues about a growing discontent.. which continues in other books, regarding the purity of those who attend Hogwarts, the prescence of "mudbloods" and we develop a storyline that continues the tales of a school student.

I think a lot of people look to Harry Potter and hope for a normal film sequence, beginning, middle, end.. but that has not been true of the book series, and I had hoped it would not be true of the movies, and in this film I was rewarded. Since Rowling has developed her storyline based around a seven book saga (from first year to finally at or post Hogwarts..) the development of who Harry is, and why he is so important, continues to grow on us.

The movie was paced in such a way that I felt rewarded for elements captured from the book - including the very apt portrayal of Dobby, the house-elf, which was done in such a way that the dialog was virtually word for word from the books. The scenes revolving around quiddich, which became as it should be.. an ever present background, but not the story, were paced quickly and cut in such a way that they served to advance the mystery of the plot rather then acting as a stand-a-lone action segment.

I will be honest and say something more then a few will violently disagree with in the forum: this film captures what I believe to be pure fantasy/action in a way that reminded me most of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, with good asides and a steady combination of both action and a simple enough story line with sinister elements.

The acting in the film was solid, better then the first, with the kids clearly more comfortable with their performances then had been in the opening effort. While both Malfoy characters were slighly "over the top", I found their performances to not be a real detraction from the rest of the film.

HP:COS is one of my favorite books of the series. I have always loved this book in the way that it manages to give us our first real insight into who Voldemort truly is, as well as provide us a look at the wizarding world still divided after his abscence. The growing unease within the witching world, which divides families of those who were accepted back after previously following Voldemort and those who adamantly opposed still exists.. and is something we get deep into in later books (Goblet of Fire) but by addressing that element now, we manage to create the characters that will fuel all of the future adventures. I feel as though some will be dissapointed with the ending (which, be it known, is EXACTLY the ending from the book, and I thank Chris Columbus for sticking with the original material). However, the ending present, which addresses Tom Riddle, will become far more important later, as we learn about Riddle's friends and days at Hogwarts.

HP:COS is one of the most rewarding films I have seen this year. No, it is not MBFGW, and there are films I have seen this year that I would consider far better films. But Harry Potter:COS manages to do something that is all I ask of any film: it left me entertained and feeling as though my money was well spent.

In the end, that's all I'm really after. I enjoyed HP, would recommend it with a caveat: when I made the comparison to Indiana Jones, in a lot of ways, that is well meant: this is not a film for 8 year olds. The book series gets progressively darker, as do the movies. This should be a Teen and up film unless you want to take your five year old home crying and scared.

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#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Kristian

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Posted November 15 2002 - 03:05 PM

I loved Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but I'm unsure if I liked it more than the original. Clearly, the film looks better than the first, thanks in part to ILM's involvement. And it's a more suspenseful and exciting film, by far. But I thought it had less of the little character moments that were so abundant in the first film. Maybe this is how it was in the book (I've only read the first one). Still, one of the year's most entertaining films, Hogwarts and all. Posted Image

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#6 of 23 OFFLINE   WilliamP

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Posted November 15 2002 - 04:39 PM

This film was pretty average, outside the fx and acting. Where's the story? Basically, there is none. What we get here is a looping of certain scenes for about an hour. This film easily could've lost 20-30 minutes and again went for the sell-out stupid ending. I enjoyed the first one much more.

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#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted November 15 2002 - 05:04 PM

William don't fault the movie for the story that blame belongs to jk rowling. Anyway as stated above its a better film then the first one in many ways but I didn't like how they handled some of the scenes such as malfoy and harry's quiditch match...it felt more like luke using the force to blow up the ship then harry catching the snitch...I kept waiting for dumbledore to say use the magic young harry use the magicPosted Image Anyway aside from that most of the film paced well and was enjoyable. It sure didn't feel like a long movie. I wonder how well they'll be able to replace harris as dumbledore.

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Dan Brecher

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Posted November 16 2002 - 03:43 AM

Chamber of Secrets seemed a fair bit more choppy to me than Philosopher's Stone in the respect that I think the previous film did a better job of adapting the story to suit the medium of cinema (although I do still long for more Dursley footage in the first film)....

The problem with Chamber is that it is rather bland given Columbus' direction. His work in my mind was fine for the Philosopher, but here, he doesn't change and gives us more of the same. He fails to be inventive, perhaps fearing to be inventive in light of so many demands that the films stray a little from the books. Endless overhead shots of Hogwarts struck to the same cue of music again, and again, and again... Visualy there's next to nothing REALLY interesting going on, and the questionable line deliveries from the younger cast members show more now.

What I felt Chamber fails to do ultimately is exploit this wonderful story fully for the film medium. In some respects, it's just too much like the book in it's structure, and I can't help but feel Kloves and Columbus lacked the confidence to change things around a little and really make it shine for cinema. Although so many are lapping it all up on first viewings it's gaping flaws are really there for all to see, but can be forgotton amongst the hype and truly wonderful audiences of fans and families that you can sit and watch this adventure with in a cinema.

Don't get me wrong of course, I did enjoy the film very much as it still stays true to the spirit of the book and that's great, it's still a great story with great characters. Fact was, for me, it's just let down by no risks being taken for the want of being more inventive. For it's strucutre, Chamber is very ho-hum.

Taking Cleese' portrayal of Nearly Headless Nick as an example, Chamber of Secrets fails to add more depth to characters set up in the first film. In an almost utter repeat of Philosopher's Stone, Nick dlivers bland "hellos" to the students about the halls, getting little better delivery of response from the kids. Bits like this almost make you ask, why do they bother?

You can let the first film in a series set a lot up about the characters, but there's no excuse to stop with character development in the sequels, and in her writing, Rowling forever furthers aspects of characters in her universe, you're forever learning something new. I suppose I want to say Kloves, who's a writer I am quite fond of as it goes, has adapted many elements from the book in the wrong way, failing to get to the heart of some scenes.

I'd never liken Rowling's work to Tolkien's, nor Columbus' to Peter Jackson's, but one of the things I so admire about PJs take on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy is that PJ knows full well he can never take everything from the books and lay it all out on screen. In knowing this, PJ inventively played with timelines, changed scenes around, gave characters in the film dialogue other characters in the book. He took risks and they're paying off for the better of the films.

PJ knew how to alter a story from it's original written novel source in order to exploit the best out of it in the cinematic medium, yet at the same time never deviate from the original work's spirit. The spirit of Potter holds true in the films as I say, but in Chamber most notably, the way the story is ultimately delivered on screen is really a rather underwhelming experience.

I adore the Chamber of Secrets book more than most. Many feel it's the worst, yet I rate the books in the order they were written thus far. I'll see the film incarnation of COS a couple more times before the year is out without question, there's a lot of fun to be had, but I'm just left wanting that little bit more...

Kenneth Branagh is an utter gem in the film. There's never a dull Lockhart moment on screen. The man perfectly encaspulates everything Gilderoy is and the post credits gift to those who are good enough to stay for a film's credits ensures you leave with a smile. I await more!

I was pleased with Dobby too. Columbus wisely ensured the majority of the effects sequences were done early in production for the second film, and the extra time taken on the visuals shows. The look of the visual effects is not as inconsistent as it was first time round, and ILM now took on a heavy bulk of the CG. It's always nice to see some effective animatronics put to good use too!

Great & ever entertaining stuff, if somewhat un-inventive in it's translation to screen;
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#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Matthew_Millheiser

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Posted November 16 2002 - 04:29 AM

I'm a HUGE Potter geek, and while I liked the first movie as a whole, I felt it lacked vision, style, and a certain sense of whimsy that Rowling's prose seems to convey so easily.

The new film -- well, I LOVED IT!! Much more so than the first. Although it isn't perfect -- the pacing is a bit off during the first half, and the story doesn't really kick into gear until the "Dueling Club" scene -- Chamber of Secrets is a wondrously magical time at the movies. The cast is wonderful, the story is still intriguing for someone who has read the book dozens of times, and when it was all over I still wanted more.

I give it Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image 1/2 out of Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image. A fun time indeed.

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#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

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Posted November 16 2002 - 04:59 AM

I thought that HPCoS was, in general, a better piece than HPPS. Film grain was less noticable - perhaps someone kicked Columbus in the --- and told him to quit using 64,000 speed film (okay, okay, so I exadurated. But he used a lot of the 800 speed stocks in HPPS, and it really showed.)

Technically, I couldn't help but notice how bad the dialog recordings were. It seemed like 2/3s of the children's dialog was clipped in the original recording, and for whatever reason, they didn't ADR it. Or maybe they just royally f'ed it up when they did ARD it.

I was disappointed in the fact that they essentially recycled the score from the first film, with little really "new" music; was Warner being cheap, or was Williams too busy with other projects?

Ah, well... on a more personal note, in addition to the reel-change splices, some of which were pretty bad at the theater I saw it in, the print also had FIVE lab-splices. Yeech!

Richard Harris will be missed, I'm sure, but for some reason, I had the notion from day one that the Dumbledore role should be Sir Richard Attenbourgh. Kenneth Branagh was a good punching bag in this film; too bad his character is gone. Do you suppose the next comic-relief / punching bag character could be (brain fart! substitute name for..) that talentless twit from Robin Hood: POT?

Actually, that is an interesting question. Who will be cast for the next Defense Against Dark Arts teacher? The next one has a pretty big part, and could be a very fun role..

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#11 of 23 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted November 16 2002 - 08:22 AM

I'll have to see it again, but I didnt like it as much as the first film

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#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 16 2002 - 12:30 PM

This film has a decent 1st act, but then it gets bogged down in structure. Yes, they need to drop in the "clues" but it takes forever, and by the time you get to the finale, the appearance of magic seems more like a deus ex mahina concoction, rather than a logical development.

The film is simply too long, and too slow. There's a good 30 minutes that could have been cut from the film. It's rather uneven, the pacing is not good at all. It does beat the pants off "Eight-Legged Freaks" in some respects (that's not high praise).

Now if someone were to say everything in the book was in the film. I'd suggest the screenwriters figure out a way to "adapt" the source material into a cinematic story, and do some trimming.

I give is 2.5 stars, or a grade of C+.
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#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted November 16 2002 - 01:12 PM

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Movie Score: B+
Film Score: B
Overall Score: B

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- character development from first film
- CG effects

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- no new direction was taken

I like it as much as the first installment. That's about all I can say. I wish I had actually read the source material to be more familiar with it. About the only problem I had with the film was that it seemed less magical and only a rehash of the first one.

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Brian Kissinger

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Posted November 16 2002 - 03:32 PM

I have never read any of the books (partly because I hadn't the time, and partly because they were so popular--I didn't see how something that managed to entertain everyone could entertain me), but I must say I plan on giving them a go now.

Last year I reluctantly took my son to see the initial installment. After it was over (which I found myself dozing off through), I failed to understand the hype. It was a neat premise, but I just didn't get it. It wasn't until further reflection and another viewing that I found myself growing found of the film. Flash forward to present, and I found myself almost as anxious to see this film as he.

I found Chamber of Secrets to be wonderfully fun. I never lost interest, and found myself laughing out loud more than once. I agree with most earlier assessments of Kenneth Branagh being perfectly funny in the role of Gilderoy Lockhart.

One of the main gripes so far has been the covered "feel" and imagery. I found these elements to be welcome. Somewhat like your old, favorite blanket. I knew who the characters were, and instead of feeling like a re-hash, it felt more like a development. Everything from Ronald's cracking voice, to the kids' aging added to the feel. We got more history and background to the main characters, and they seemed more comfortable in their roles.

If you enjoyed the first film, I suspect you'll enjoy this one as well.

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#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Todd Terwilliger

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Posted November 16 2002 - 04:08 PM

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I never read any of the books. I saw Sorceror's Stone last year and thought it was okay.

I enjoyed Chamber of Secrets for the most part but I felt it was over-long and I did not care for the ending. The deus ex-machina device did not work for me at all.

If I were to grade the film in portions, I'd give it 3 Posted Image for the first two-thirds but only 1 Posted Image for the final third.
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#16 of 23 OFFLINE   Eric Franklin

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Posted November 16 2002 - 05:59 PM

I liked it a lot more than TSS. The effects were much better and the action was much more exciting (quittich was awesome!) and the pacing felt improved as well.

Gilderoy Lockhart was the highpoint of the film for me. he was just SO spot-on. I have agree with Todd about the deus ex-machina, even though I've read the book it still felt cheap to me.

Overall

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#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

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Posted November 16 2002 - 07:56 PM

I havn't seen that many cookie cutters since my Gramma's kitchen Posted Image

Seriously though, I certainly enjoyed the first movie, but found myself almost despising the second. While the acting is VERY good, and I mean very, the story-arc is extremely tiresome, and seems easily reproduced by anyone behind the camera (no insult whatsoever to Chris Columbus et al). If I may be so bold, I will here now outline what happens in every HP book/movie:

1:trouble/generall meaness at Harry's home
2.Harry is rescued/uncle embaressed
3.Trouble getting to school, though it ends up all right
4.Harry et al go sneaking around/Hermione figures something out
5.One of the threesome gets in trouble
6.Something is bad at the school, teachers act suspicious
7.A teacher is not who they seem
8.Harry fights the same guy in some form or another
9.An ending occurs, that doesn't seem quite right

Again, I thought the first movie was damn fine, but it seems that the series will bore me if it is as predictable as I fear. I hope I'm wrong.

Oh, and Malfoy, we GET IT, you're bad. WE GET IT!

And yes, I realise that I'm picking apart a so-called children's book, and that it's only entertainment, but I wasn't entertained.

Though every book/movie follows an archetypical structure, fantasy especially, all good ones at least throw the reader/viewer something new now and again.

Your milage will/may very

cheers!

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#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Brian Ford

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Posted November 16 2002 - 09:14 PM

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HP&COS Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

So, I enjoyed the first film more. That is not going to stop me from fully recommending the Chamber of Secrets to anyone. While the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone had a more magical, colorful, and enveloping presentation, Chamber of Secrets creates a better structured plot.

I see the replacement of Columbus with Cuaron as good news, as a fresh new view and delivery is exactly what the series could use for the third installment. Chamber of Secrets' element of mystery and horror will keep you stuck in your seat, while ILM's much improved special effects should impress you. While the score is a disappointment, and I wish there was a bigger visual flair to the presentation, I still found myself beyond entertained.

Check it out!

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted November 18 2002 - 12:26 AM

My wife and I really enjoyed this last night. Very well-executed, it's only real weakness in my eyes was the lack of a real spark in terms of energy. Better effects and less set-up were very enjoyable. The acting was excellent, the direction competent, and the story faithful. Reminded me very much of the first film, which we watched Friday night. That said, I am biased as a 2002 Potter-convertee - 9/10

Bring on The Order of the Phoenix!

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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 18 2002 - 12:49 AM

Quote:
the lack of a real spark in terms of energy.


Same issue I had with the first one - for movies about magic there seems to be very little in the movie itself.

Personally I lay this at the feet of the director. Hopefully the next one will correct this issue.
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