Review


Gary King, a middle-aged alcoholic (Simon Pegg), tracks down his estranged schoolfriends and persuades them to complete “the Golden Mile”, a pub crawl encompassing the 12 pubs of their hometown of Newton Haven. The group attempted the crawl as teenagers, but failed to reach the final pub, The World’s End. Gary arrives in Newton Haven with friends Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost). The group is briefly joined for a drink by Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), whose affections Gary and Steven fought over in school. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s. Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries…

“The World’s End” completes what Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright refer to as “The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” consisting of “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), “Hot Fuzz” (2007) and “The World’s End” (2013). I personally have´t liked any of these films to be honest as the makers Pegg & Frost move around in a comic sphere that simply doesn´t appeal to me. The irony in this is that I don´t like their collaborations, but I think they do quite ok stuff separately. Simon Pegg is great in both the Mission Impossible franchaise and the Star Trek franchaise for example. It´s them together that sparks ridiculous teen comedy I don´t like or laugh at. But, what they have succeeded with in this one is a great set of supporting actors in Marsan, Freeman, Considine and Pike. All does a good job. While Pegg´s character is just one of those ones you hate throughout the movie despite his sad and lost life to alcohol. You recognise the type and I think we all have bumped into that sort of person in our lives and that´s not someone you will invite back. A person who will alienate himself due to his obnoxious ways of making people feel like crap to make himself feel a bit better. Initially there´s a spark as the old school friends come together and the dynamics flies between them. But, that dies when the movie becomes “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and a tiresome homage to that sort of movies. The best part are the supporting actors (and it´s always a pleasure to see the lovely/talented Rosamund Pike) and the phenomenal 90´s soundtrack. (2 and a half out of 5)

In Tangier/Morocco 1904 an American woman named Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) & her two young children Jennifer (Polly Gottesman) & William (Simon Harrison) are kidnapped by a gang of men lead by Moroccan rebel Mulay Hamid El Raisuli (Sean Connery) the Lord of the Rif, Sultan to the Berbers & the last of the Barbary Pirates. Word of the kidnapping gets back to President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) who decides to use the situation as a show of American power and strength and therefore issues the ultimatum ‘Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead’. As the struggle for power in the Middle East & Morocco wages between the Europeans, the Americans and the Moroccan people, Raisuli & Pedercaris become pawns, symbols of war and what to fight for or against in the Middle Eastern crises…

“The Wind and the Lion”, written & directed by John Milius, is loosely based on real events and the tone in this historical adventure carriers marks of classic lavish epic adventure dramas such as “Lawrence of Arabia”, but doesn´t reach the heights of the latter. I think the plot line and editing is a mish mash and there seems to be no clear direction. Milius drags out the scenes and squeezes the air out them until there´s nothing left and we as the viewers gets dizzy from not enough oxygen. The flow is missing and there´s too much philosophising from both Roosevelt and El Raisuli that really leads nowhere. The pace and tone is also uneven. The cinematography, the sets, production design, costumes and locations are however all fine in my point of view. Sean Connery is ok as El Raisuli (even if the character is a bit outside of the normal roles we have seen him in over the years), but he adds to the character with his charisma and experience. Candice Bergen is somewhat lost in her role and she doesn´t really convince the way she normally does. But, she is as radiant as ever. The movie received considerable industry recognition, including Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Sound Mixing. Jerry Goldsmith’s score was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media and the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. Additionally, the Writers Guild of America nominated Milius’ screenplay. The film was also a financial success, though Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws distracted attention from it. Shortly after its release, the film was screened for U.S. President Gerald Ford and his staff, who reportedly loved it. The film has also gained considerable recognition in the Islamic world for its accurate, detailed, and sympathetic depiction of Berber and Islamic culture. (3 out of 5)

Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is a 35-year-old father of two struggling to be an actor in L.A. while his wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson) works a tedious data job. In order to send their kids, Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) and Grace (Joey King) to a good school, they rely on help from Aidan’s father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), who insisted they go to an Orthodox Jewish day school. When Gabe reveals his cancer has come back, he tells Aidan that he’s decided to put the rest of his money into treatment, meaning his grandkids can no longer afford to attend their school. After the school refuses to provide any aid to the Blooms because Aidan’s career is his “choice” and other families have greater needs, Sarah suggests that Aidan homeschool his kids, and their adventure of self-discovery begins. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find…

As in Zach Braff´s first feature film “Garden State” he keeps exploring the difficulties of adulthood in “Wish I Was Here”. In this case the difficulties of keeping your family together and not giving up on your dreams at the same time. What Aidan wants for himself and what his family needs from him is his constant struggle and he hears that’s not good enough no matter what he does. Should we just let our dreams die because we need to just focus on what society tells you to do and focus on? Is it too self centered to have dreams and hopes for yourself when you have a family and children? At times Aidan isn´t really a father figure grasping the authority as just that. Aidan sees maybe fatherhood as something different or wants it to be different to fit in his life or has he just not grown up yet? Aidan need also to come to terms with his father´s illness and short time left to live which ends up in Gabe´s understanding of his own mortality and seeking reconciliation with Aidan and his brother. It´s about being in the present and being in charge of yourself and not ended up as a spectator in your own life. Zach Braff is good as Aidan (however still very much Zach Braff) while I reckon Mandy Patinkin steals most scenes he is in. Kate Hudson has never been a favourite, but I think she gives a fine performance as Sarah. “Wish I Was Here” is touching, contemplative, sad, funny and slightly surreal. Trivia: Inspired by the success of Veronica Mars (2014)’s ability to raise funds by using the website Kickstarter, Zach Braff gave people the opportunity to invest in this movie using the website as well. He was looking to raise $2 million. Depending on the donation, people could get a video diary of the making of the movie, tickets to screenings, and for the highest level of $10,000, a credited part in the movie. The drive started on April 24, 2013 and lasted a month. Over $3 million was raised and 46,520 people contributed. (3 and a half out of 5)

When his late mother, Kate (Melissa Leo), appears in a vision after her death and tells him to go to Bucharest, Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf) immediately boards a plane across the Atlantic. But when he meets a fellow passenger, Victor (Ion Caramitru), an elderly man returning home from a Cubbies game, with a hat as a gift for his daughter. Victor dies sitting next to Charlie, who later sees him as a spirit asking him to deliver his gift to his daughter, which he accepts. Charlie finds himself simply with another promise to fulfill. Arriving at the airport, he meets Victor’s daughter, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood), whom he falls instantly in love with, a beautiful musician who plays the cello for the Bucharest Opera House. However, a vicious gangster Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen), has already laid claim to Gabi and is actually married to her, and her has no intention of letting her go. Determined to protect her, Charlie enters into the hallucinatory, Romanian underworld filled with violence and, strangely enough, love… Swedish director/actor/writer Fredrik Bond´s “The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman” (original title) is an atmospheric movie with the feeling of a music video or commercial (great work by cinematographer Roman Vasyanov) handling classic themes such as love and destiny. Compared to a lot of negative reviews I was positively surprised of the movie, even if it has some weak spots. I love the magic realism in the movie, it´s done in a great way, specifically with Melissa Leo appearing the way Charlie wants to remember his dear mother. Who can´t relate to that? Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Pulpy dross of surpassing dumbness, Charlie Countryman takes the blender approach to mixing dark adventure, doofus comedy and pie-eyed romance, but forgets to put the lid on when pulsed.” While Damon Wise of Empire gave a positive review, stating “Bond’s use of music is excellent and his vision of eastern Europe both hellish and magical.”

I can agree to the fact that there´s an unbalanced mix of comedy and violence that maybe doesn´t always work, but at the same time it´s quite clear that Bond has been inspired of Scott/Tarantino´s “True Romance” and “The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman” is not all that bad compared to its inspiration even if it doesn´t reach the same heights. I personally think that Shia LaBeouf is quite good as Charlie, while Evan Rachel Wood is maybe not as convincing as she normally is. Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Melissa Leo gives beautiful colours to the film as well. I love as well that Bond used M83´s “Intro”. It´s such a great song that adds layers to the film. Trivia: Wood criticised the American censors for insisting that a scene be cut in which her character receives oral sex from LaBeouf, while taking no issue with the many violent scenes: “The scene where the two main characters make ‘love’ was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people ‘uncomfortable’, but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off remained intact and unaltered… [Society] wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex, especially when (gasp) the man isn’t getting off as well… Accept that women are sexual beings, accept that some men like pleasuring women. Accept that women don’t just have to be fucked and say thank you. We are allowed and entitled to enjoy ourselves. It’s time we put our foot down.” I couldn´t agree more. (3 and a half out of 5)

How far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child’s life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?…

The topic of “Prisoners” is without no doubt one of the more difficult things a human being can go through. A missing child and when minutes turns into hours into days every second is valuable. There´s an emotional complexity in the film and the sense of dread/something terrifying lurking in the darkness is so apparent you can touch it. Denis Villenueve has managed to put together this strong movie without losing the focus of the topic and getting the absolutely best out of every actor/actress in the film. Hugh Jackman is magnificent (one of his best performances showing all the emotional states you can imagine), Paul Dano is great as the pacified Alex and the same goes for Jake Gyllenhaal, Terence Howard, Maria Bello and Melissa Leo. I love the layers in the film and Villenueve keeps you in his grip until the end part in which you start to grasp the connecting dots before the conclusion. The weight in the movie lays on the male counterparts and all the females are less prominently in the film. This gives maybe a less balanced script, but it´s not stealing the focus of the film. “Prisoners” is truly engaging throughout the running time despite not maybe adding a revolutionary point of view on a classic theme. (4 out of 5)

The young British soldier Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a terrifying riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, the raw recruit must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorienting, alien and deadly landscape… Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan called ’71 “a tense thriller from Britain that so adroitly joins physical intensity, emotional authenticity and political acuity that you may find yourself forgetting to take a breath.” Manohla Dargis of The New York Times singled out Jack O’Connell for praise, saying, “Mr. O’Connell runs away with ’71, in which his character’s every emotional, psychological and physical hurdle makes for kinetic cinema.” ’71 won Best Director at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards, after receiving nine nominations.

’71 is powerful, intense, gripping, emotional and well crafted. You can feel the tension through the screen, smell the fire and gunpowder as the film shows atrocities from both sides of the conflict. The direction is fantastic from Yann Demange, this being his directorial film debut, for which he received the British Independent Film Award for Best Director. Well deserved in my eyes. Jack O’Connell is great as well in the leading role and he manages to portray everything that might go through you in such a difficult situation. The historic turn of events, the Troubles, which is the backdrop of the movie is truly tragic and a dark spot on Ireland. Belfast has been the capital of Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921 following the Government of Ireland Act 1920. It had been the scene of various episodes of sectarian conflict between its Catholic and Protestant populations. These opposing groups in this conflict are now often termed republican and loyalist respectively, although they are also referred to as ‘nationalist’ and ‘unionist’. The most recent example of this conflict was known as the Troubles – a civil conflict that raged from around 1969 to 1998. Belfast saw some of the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in the 1970s, with rival paramilitary groups formed on both sides. Bombing, assassination and street violence formed a backdrop to life throughout the Troubles. The Provisional IRA detonated 22 bombs within the confines of Belfast city centre in 1972, on what is known as “Bloody Friday”, killing eleven people. Loyalist paramilitaries including the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) claimed that the killings they carried out were in retaliation for the IRA campaign. Most of their victims were Catholics with no links to the Provisional IRA. A particularly notorious group, based on the Shankill Road in the mid-1970s, became known as the Shankill Butchers. In all, over 1,600 people were killed in political violence in the city between 1969 and 2001. Sporadic violent events continued as of 2014, although not supported by the antagonists who reconciled in 1998. (4 out of 5)

Baron Manfred von Richthofen (Tomá Koutník) is the most feared and celebrated pilot of the German air force in World War I – a legend in his own time, a hero at home and a man both feared and respected by the enemy. The provocative red paint job of his Fokker aircraft earns him the nickname ‘The Red Baron’. Unwittingly, he allows the German high command to manipulate his chivalrous code of honor and misuse him for propaganda purposes until a beautiful and resolute nurse, Käte Otersdorf (Lena Headey), opens his eyes to the tragic fact that there is more to war than dogfights won and adversaries downed. Baron von Richthofen finally becomes aware of his role in the propaganda machine of a senseless and barbarous war… To improve “The Red Baron” chances on the international market, it was filmed in english, although it is a German production depicting Germans. With an estimated budget of 18 million euros, it is one of the most expensive and at the same time lowest-grossing films in German history. It premiered on 31 March 2008 in Berlin and was released a week later in the German cinemas. Fewer than 100,000 movie-goers saw the film in the first week, causing the film to miss the Top 3. In the second week it dropped to No. 10. In the third week the film was gone from the top ten. The film was quite controversial in Germany, where glorification of war heroes is nowadays a taboo.[4] The reviews after the first public performances of the film were mainly negative, criticizing in particular the high level of historical inaccuracy. The fictitious love story between Richthofen and Käte Otersdorf was described as having little factual basis. The film received a cool reception at the Berlin premiere and one member of the audience stated that Richthofen’s disillusion with the war was not believable.

Baron Manfred von Richthofen or The Red Baron is of course an intriguing character of World War I. However, I have not red in depth material about him and his life, but the claims from all directions that the movie is inaccurate in many ways shows the classic storytelling liberty filmmakers take to spice up or adjust a real life event or person to be more screenable so to say. I reckon the movie is great in terms of environments, clothes, scenery, battle sequences (I think the aerial battles are intense and well made) and the cinematography. But, the filmmakers has taken the wrong path of making it in english and therefore “killed” the movie as it simply doesn´t work at all in english. The acting is suffering major blows from that as well and you can see that the actors are not comfortable with it and their performances are not very good either. The acting feels forced and and the script is disjointed. This could´ve been quite good, but it´s not I´m afraid to say. (2 and a half out of 5)

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has settled into his hectic double life of battling crime on the streets of New York as Spider-Man, while keeping up with his everyday responsibilities as Peter Parker. Upon his graduation from high school, however, Peter finds this delicate balancing act to be too much, forcing him to reconcile his own desire to keep his love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in his life, with the knowledge that he will forever be putting her life in potential jeopardy by doing so. Things become even more complicated when Peter’s old childhood friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns to our hero’s life – carrying some dangerous secrets with him. Meanwhile, down-trodden Oscorp electrician Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) is accidentally transformed into the dangerous force of nature that is Electro, forcing Pete to yet again battle a science experiment-gone-wrong birthed by his dad’s old workplace. This leads Peter to learn more about his parents’ disappearance so many years ago, while starting to uncover the truth about what is going on behind closed doors at Oscorp Industries… I missed out on seeing “The Amazing Spider-Man” when it came out, somehow it felt strange with a reboot of what Sam Raimi started with Tobey Maguire. Tim Robey of The Telegraph said of the second movie, “Marc Webb’s Spider-Man sequel is overstuffed with high-voltage villains, but the sparks between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone save the day”. Richard Roeper gave the film a B+, stating that “It’s about 20 minutes too long and it’s overstuffed with too many characters and too many subplots, but there’s enough good stuff in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to warrant optimism about the next chapter of the franchise.” While Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, gave the film two stars out of five and said: “Things go wrong quickly with Amazing 2. Am I the only one who hates the word Amazing to describe a movie that isn’t? Just asking.” I reckon my opinion is that the foundation of the movie feels so much like the comic I loved and red when I was a kid and Andrew Garfield fits well into to shoes of Peter Parker/Spiderman and the same goes for Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. But, at the same time I felt throughout the movie that it was just “too” adjusted for a young audience and with that becoming “too” cartoony and losing the slightly darker feeling (even if they try to add it) in all the subplots and the crazy chaotic CGI (which is still not fully satisfying). Including too many villains, in this case The Green Goblin, Rhino and Electro is just like adding too much whipped cream on an already too sweet piece of pie. Jamie Foxx Electro is not that good and I wasn´t eagerly satisfied with what Marc Webb had done with Rhino (Paul Giamatti). While Dane DeHaan´s The Green Goblin was more of my liking. Part of the problem is that you don´t really get emotionally engaged by the characters, partly due to the script and partly because “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is actually a bit too campy in my eyes. I had hopes, but in the end I wasn´t satisfied. (3 out of 5)

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Experienced CIA agent Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), originally from Pittsburgh, works with a team to capture the Albino, lieutenant to an arms trafficker called the Wolf, as he is selling a dirty bomb to some terrorists. The Albino deduces the trap when he recognizes one of the agents, whom he kills. Renner is able to cripple the Albino by shooting him in the leg, but not capture him. Meanwhile, elite CIA assassin Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), who has been personally assigned by the Director to kill the Wolf, monitors the operation and notices Renner has unknowingly seen the Wolf. Renner is nearly disabled by an extreme cough, which is diagnosed as terminal brain cancer which has spread to his lungs. He is given only a few months to live, and will not see the next Christmas. For decades he has kept his dangerous career a carefully guarded secret from his wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld), at the cost of losing them. He decides to spend his remaining time trying to fix his relationship with his estranged daughter, and if possible, his ex-wife. He returns to Paris, where he and his family live separately. He makes an awkward reconnection with Christine and Zooey, and tells Christine of his terminal illness. She allows him to reconnect with Zooey, and when she has to go out of the country on business, she is forced to let him look after Zooey. Vivi recruits him to find and kill the Wolf, in exchange for an experimental drug that could extend his life significantly. Renner reluctantly accepts, to get more time with his family… “3 Days to Kill” is directed by the man with a bloody soccer player name, McG, and co-written by the long lost Luc Besson. These two names set the bar, the standard and the general atmosphere of the movie. Meaning not really my bar or my standard. If the great Kevin Costner wouldn´t have had the lead role as Renner, this would´ve just been a tiresome, action filled, potholed, stereotypical Besson actioneer. Amber Heard´s CIA assassin Vivi Delay makes no sense at all, and everything is so sadly cartoony about her. Her clothes, her lines, the way she deliver the lines, her movements, her stance, wigs etc. What the hell is she communicating as a CIA operative? The mix between family bonding/reconciliation and serious action is not fully balanced and it just feels haphazard plus the script seems to have been written on a weekend. I think that Costner, Nielsen and Steinfeld manages to get out of this action mess with their heads high, but the overall reaction to “3 Days to Kill” is truly so so from my point of view. (3 out of 5)

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A man, known only as “The Counselor” (Michael Fassbender), and his girlfriend Laura (Penélope Cruz) are about to get married. Meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, cocaine is packaged in barrels and concealed in a sewage truck, driven across the border and stored at a sewage treatment plant. After the Counselor goes to Amsterdam to meet with a diamond dealer (Bruno Ganz) to purchase an expensive engagement ring for Laura, he proposes and she accepts. He has expensive tastes, driving a Bentley and wearing elegant suits. At a party thrown by Reiner (Javier Bardem) and girlfriend Malkina (Cameron Diaz), the Counselor discusses a nightclub he and Reiner intend to run, as well as the Counselor’s interest in an upcoming drug deal, which would be his first. The Counselor meets with Westray (Brad Pitt), a business associate of Reiner’s. He hears of the deal’s four-thousand percent return rate, but Westray warns The Counselor about becoming involved in such a deal, saying that Mexican cartels are merciless. The Counselor visits then a client, a prison inmate named Ruth (Rosie Perez) who is on trial for murder. Ruth’s son is a biker and a valued cartel member known as “The Green Hornet” recently arrested for speeding. The Counselor agrees to bail him out of jail. Malkina, a ruthless criminal herself, employs “The Wireman” (Sam Spruell) to steal the drugs in the sewage truck. He does this by decapitating the biker with a wire stretched across the highway. After collecting the component that will allow the sewage truck to start, The Wireman drives to the sewage treatment plant, where he steals the truck containing the cocaine. Learning of this incident, Westray meets with The Counselor to notify him that The Green Hornet is dead and that the cocaine has been stolen, bleakly intoning The Counselor’s culpability. Westray says he is leaving town immediately and suggests The Counselor do the same. Westray explains that the cartel’s ruthlessness extends to creating “snuff films” where murder victims are filmed on camera. The Counselor makes an urgent call to Laura, arranging to meet her in another state, where he will explain. The cartel has learned that The Counselor bailed out The Green Hornet, which appears as suspect timing and fully blameworthy for the punitive purposes of the cartel… Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, calling it “not a very likable or gratifying film,” adding that “one is left with a very bleak ending and an only slightly less depressing sense of the waste of a lot of fine talent both behind and in front of the camera.” Noted critic Mark Kermode listed it as number two on his Ten Worst Films of 2013. The Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan stated, “As cold, precise and soulless as the diamonds that figure briefly in its plot, The Counselor is an extremely unpleasant piece of business.” Peter Debruge of Variety criticized Cormac McCarthy’s script, saying that his “first original script is nearly all dialogue, but it’s a lousy story, ineptly constructed and rendered far too difficult to follow.” Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy together with top names like Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Penélope Cruz should be worth a watch, but unfortunately “The Counselor” is hardly that. The original screenplay written by Cormac McCarthy, who gave us one of the best books I have red in “The Road”, is such a painful mess in terms of amateurish dialogue and scenes. There´s several nonsense plot turns and the characters are truly cartoony and stereotypical. I got the feeling that Scott had looked at the illustrator Hermann for inspiration, but is hardly close to the production or magnificence of the latter. Michael Fassbender is normally a great actor, but here he is flat and non engaging. You simply don´t care about him or understand his actions. Cameron Diaz is miscasted for her role and she´s hardly terrifying and mysterious, which would be the foundation of her character and the idea of making her appearance cheetah like is quite ridiculous. Her clunky way of delivering her lines scares hardly anyone. And the car masturbation scene is beyond ridiculous and I can´t believe Cormac McCarthy wrote that. Brad Pitt disappears underneath the hat of his, Penélope Cruz talent goes out the door and Javier Bardem´s Reiner is just too much. This is simply a carcass on the high plains for the wild animals to take care of. (2 and a half out of 5)

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