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Insurrection: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (aka the Son'a)

Matthias Russell

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Report this May. 10 2011, 11:08 am

Discuss your thoughts of Insurrection. Share valuable background info. Tell us what it did well and how it failed. Be critical, but not hateful. Perhaps even watch it again and give it a fresh look; maybe your perspective has changed.

Matthias Russell

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Report this May. 10 2011, 11:23 am

(BTW, be nice Vger, and remember to breathe.)

Narada

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Report this May. 10 2011, 12:57 pm

I always like this one and find enjoyment with the slower pace. There are flaws with Insurrection which many are pointed out in the Red Letter Media review. I will rate this movie in 2nd place for Next Generation movies in this order: First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis, Generations.

Vger23

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Report this May. 10 2011, 2:25 pm

So, here’s my take on Star Trek: Insurrection. Most know that this is my least-favorite (notice how I don’t say “most hated”…as there is a distinct difference) of the Trek film franchise by far, and I feel very comfortable with that. I think Insurrection suffered from what a lot of post-The Voyage Home movies suffered, and that was the idea that a “lighter” film automatically means greater audience accessibility. Insurrection also suffered terribly from “too many cooks in the kitchen.” If you read the making-of stories, the studio wanted it to be one thing, Berman wanted it to be another, and Piller was going in a different direction, and then you had the ever-present Spiner and Stewart lobbying for what THEY felt needed to be done. The result, whenever this phenomenon occurs with Trek movies, is always a luke-warm product. Insurrection is no exception. So, like I did with The Search for Spock and Generations, here is my best-effort review of Star Trek: Insurrection…


 


THE GOOD:


1.       The theme is very true to the core values of what the TNG series chose to explore. This is essentially a morality lesson on the pitfalls of subjugating the will of a small population for the betterment of a much larger and needier population. It puts the crew in the position to have to make some critical decisions with potentially far-reaching impact.


2.       I love Star Trek that focuses on adventure. I always felt like Trek (particularly TNG) could learn something from Indiana Jones. Insurrection is, at its heart, a bold adventure story putting members of the Enterprise crew against great odds all to protect the lives of a few hundred innocent people.


3.       There’s some reasonably good character stuff here. The Riker and Troi flirting, which could have been a sappy-crappy disaster was handled quite well. It was fun, but not over-the-top, and it served as a nice pay-off to fans of those characters and that relationship. There were also some (albeit brief) great moments for Geordi,  and Levar Burton is actually given the chance to act for a change as he regains his eyesight for the first time.


4.       Much of Jonathan Frakes’ direction is very good. The locations they chose to film at were absolutely breathtaking. The production values were weaker than First Contact, but still pretty impressive.


THE BAD:


1.       The plot in general is fairly un-engaging and somewhat ridiculous. I can’t for the life of me make myself care about anything that is going on in the primary story. The initial shock of Data going berserk and the Enterprise being sent in to handle it is over quickly as Picard and Worf sing show tunes and everything is quickly back to normal. I was never given an emotional basis to care about the B’aku. The So’na plot is so convoluted and contrived that it nearly brings the movie crashing down. The whole holoship idea is nonsense? Why are they even bothering trying to trick these people? Whatever planet they relocate these people to will doubtlessly be rather obvious. Much of the plot issues are outlined in the aforementioned redlettermedia.com review.


2.       Silliness, silliness, silliness… The TNG cast just doesn’t translate humor as effectively as some of the other casts do. The scenes intended to provide lighthearted and warm feelings really just cause me to roll my eyes and groan. There are some genuine smiles and chuckles…but most of it      is just goofiness that doesn’t play well. Humor has to be driven naturally and come from a natural place to work well. This felt like it was one step above something a 13 year old would have written if they were told to “make Star Trek, but make it funny.”


3.       There’s too much metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, even for Star Trek. Metaphasic radiation that acts as a fountain of youth? Meh. Mental discipline that can be learned in 3 hours that allows you to slow your perception (?) of time down? Whuut? It’s bunk, and it pulled me right out of the story.


4.       Tired, contrived action scenes are all over the place in this movie. The space battle has no heart, no life, and no real tension. I love a good outer space battle as much as the next guy, but this is nothing more than a token battle scene. No amount of seemingly unique weapons and tactics (isolytic subspace weapons, The Riker Maneuver, manual steering column, etc. etc. etc.) can make up for the fact that there’s no real drama here. The planet-bound action scenes are equally boring and contrived. There’s just no life to them.   


5.       This may be one of Jerry Goldsmith’s weakest scores.


6.       I’ve seen this movie (easily) 30 times, and I still have trouble remembering the names of any of the principle guest characters. There is not a memorable character or performance among them. It’s a shame, because I think they cast talented people in those roles (F. Murray Abraham is obviously not a slouch), but who cares about that character?


 


THE UGLY:


1.       There is no drama, tension, or heart in this film. That is an unforgiveable sin in Star Trek. Everything feels manufactured and forced in those departments. There’s nothing that grabs my interest or makes me sit on the edge of my seat with interest or excitement. There’s no sense of wonder. Those are critical elements to any Star Trek production. Even the worst episodes have heart and purpose. This movie seems like it was deliberately made to NOT have drama or tension. I think they mistook “light” with “empty.” If you want to make a “light” Trek movie, it still has to have dramatic content. This movie misses that mark significantly.


2.       This is NOT a major motion picture. The scope of the movie is barely capable of filling out a one-hour episode with relevant dramatic content. Again, that is an unforgiveable sin in this franchise. Even the movies that are thought of as “weaker” by the general fan base (TFF, GEN, etc) were bold attempts at something grand and meaningful. You can’t spend $50 million on something that ends up being less entertaining than 75% of the television series. It just wasn’t a relevant film. It felt like “filler,” which you can’t have in a major movie franchise. Ultimately, it’s a film that adds nothing to the franchise or the TNG characters.


 



A good friend of mine said it best, after viewing the film for the first time: “The major inflection point to move the plot along has Picard dancing a mambo in his quarters. WTF?” I think it’s a perfect summation of the problems with this film.


picard_2305

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Report this May. 10 2011, 3:56 pm

I personally think Insurrection gets a bad rap. It is not my favourite Star Trek film and perhaps it is a little small scale in it's scope and perhaps plays better as a two part episode rather than a movie. It is very fluffy and not appealling to mainstream cinema audience. However, i found Insurrection a lot of fun to watch.


I think it's nice to go a bit lighter after First Contact, and take a different direction than to put Earth in jeopardy again. The story is something I think is true to Trek and I agree with Marina Sirtis and Michael Pillar said that it is one that Gene Roddenberry would have been happy with.


I liked the fact that the movie had a bit more humour, obviously trying for their 'Voyage Home" in a way. I loved Picard and Worf singing A British Tar to distract Data, it was silly but I found it fun.


I loved the look of the Son'a and I loved F. Murray Abraham as Ru'afo. I found the Son'a a lot more interesting than the Ba'ku, who probably seem too  unengaging to a movie going audience. And I think the Son'a work well thanks F. Murray Abraham, I loved watching him on the screen, Great actor.


Although I liked it going lighter I do think that it made the story softer, to use a term that Jonathan Frakes used to describe the story. Like he did with First Contact Jonathan Frakes directs this film brilliantly. He knows his stuff. I loved s


The Manual Steering Column is very cheesy and so obviously a Joystick and something a little silly in a critical moment in a battle scene.


It is weaker than First Contact but I still found Insurrection a lot of fun to watch.


Although not as dramatic as First Contact I think there were still some excellent debates in the film such as Picard's confrontation with Dougherty. "How many people does it take Admiral?" but it doesn't work as well as the Picard and Lily confrontation in the last film, but still great perfomances from Patrick Stewart and Anthony Zerbe in that scene.


Could I ask if anyone else liked the guest cast in Insurrection?


And I found Artim, the kid who Data befriende, to be good and NOT ANNOYING, the complete opposite of Jake Lloyd in Phantom Menance.


Not a perfect film and I think some nice scenes were cut out.


 


 

Ezri Janeway

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Report this May. 11 2011, 4:57 am

It was trek panto at its best. The cast seemed to be having a good time, the crew stood up to their principals, they saved a planet, reunited a people and a few of them fell in love. It was fun. The book was better.


As far as story goes I didnt really care that much, of course Picard and co were going to save the day, the rest was just senery for the crew to run around in.


Worth watching just to see Worfs scowl as hes made to sing Gilbert and Sullivan.

Matthias Russell

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POSTS: 7705

Report this May. 11 2011, 6:07 am

Geez, I have to thoroughly review a vger review AGAIN. Go ahead and rant Servalan, you do it quite well but you know you wanted Riker to stand up. You wanted to know how much shaving Troi was doing!

I'm gonna have to give this thought some time in view of the great responses. I will say this is the ONLY trek movie unavailable in the netflix catalog, so it seems netflix has a low opinion of it.

Vger23

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Report this May. 11 2011, 6:49 am

Quote: Matthias Russell @ May. 11 2011, 6:07 am

>Geez, I have to thoroughly review a vger review AGAIN.


 


Be careful what you ask for, Matthias!


Seriously, was it THAT painful? I thought I was very objective, and tried to stay unemotional while pointing out my views.


Bottom line: I like INS, but I like it much MUCH less than the rest of the films. I'm not going to whine and cry about it or write a bunch of ridiculous ranting.


I AM KEE-ROCK!!

Matthias Russell

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Report this May. 11 2011, 8:35 am

No, no, I enjoy your reviews.  I haven't ACTUALLY read it yet, I copied it to a word file so I can easily read and quote it.  Plus, I wanted to recall my impressions of the movie before being influenced by your thoughts.  And here are my thoughts:

Matthias Russell

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Report this May. 11 2011, 8:36 am

I’m going to try to remember back to my thoughts of INS as I first saw it in the theater.



During the opening credits I’m watching the paradasaic community thinking, okay get on with it.  Later, I loved the concept of this advanced society that had high technology but had limited its usage and hidden it behind their simplistic agricultural lifestyle.  Though the community was interesting, I couldn’t believe they spent so much money on the set of the Ba’ku village.  Same with the palm pet; it had to REAL purpose so why did they spend the money designing a space hamster and rendering it with CGI?


I thought the first enterprise scene was cute, with classical Trek humor while I loved the dress uniforms and especially appreciated the line “Can anyone remember when we used to be explorers?”  Then Worf walks in out of nowhere; somehow he came aboard without the captain knowing he was coming.  I understand they want Dorn in the TNG movies but it felt like they didn’t how to bring him in purposefully like in FC so they didn’t bother trying.


I thought the scout ship and shuttle were the coolest shuttles trek ever had but the scene was too silly for me.  You are singing during a dogfight in hopes the musical will bring Data to his senses!?!  Then when they bring Data to his senses and Data figures out what happened, I felt the plot was unraveled haphazardly which left me felling lost for a few minutes.  Data’s floatation device was also a little TOO silly.  Geordi gaining sight and wanting to enjoy a sunset was moving.  But Picard figures out the value of the Briar Patch when he feels like dancing?  What!?!


The Son’a and admiral were great villains.  Abraham really got under your skin and Picard’s preaching to the admiral about how many people does the operation have to affect until it becomes wrong was one of Stewart’s best moments in the franchise.  Then you find out the Son’a are a bunch of exiled extremists out to get revenge on their parents and you REALLY hate them.


I loved it when Picard goes to leave and his crew rallies behind him but felt the yacht usage was a bit gratuitous; it was cool, made up for not seeing the D’s yacht, but not really necessary.  I felt like they just wanted something they could make a toy out of and they had the budget to render it.


When they Ba’ku are abandoning the village to hide, I was reminded of the tragedy of the trail of tears and the gravity of the plot really sunk in.  I then saw the movie was trying to recreate that type of event as a social commentary.  It was a classic Trek allegory.


Data talking about Worf’s breasts firming up was hilarious.  Riker shined in command of the E.  In fact, the visuals of the Enterprise were all beautifully done; you could lose yourself in those space shots. I loved Riker “shoving the Briar patch down their throats”.


 


As I left, I remember being blown away by the special effects, thinking they upped the CGI bar after FC.  I also deeply appreciated the allegory of one society pushing around a lesser society because they wanted their land and could (Trek did it before Avatar).  Though I enjoyed many of the jokes, I felt it got a little too silly.  I felt satisfied as I left the theater; though I thought it wasn’t as great as FC, I felt it was just as epic and was glad the movie DIDN’T involve time travel.


Vger23

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Report this May. 11 2011, 8:47 am

MR,


 


I definitely agree that this was a great Riker movie. Riker was always one of my favorites, and he got to do a lot of fun things in this movie (like hot tub with Marina Sirtis). So, that is a MAJOR "plus" that I left out. It was the only first movie that didn't feel like it was only focused on Picard and Data.

Trekwolf164

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Report this May. 11 2011, 8:59 am

It was a two part TV show. The sets were fantastic and the FX great.


Data as a life raft over the top.


I did not hate the film but it is not a favorite


I agree the Captain's Yacht was because they never used the D's they should remaster and give Scotty the D's Yacht.


 

picard_2305

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POSTS: 168

Report this May. 11 2011, 10:30 am

Quote: Matthias Russell @ May. 11 2011, 8:36 am

>

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">I’m going to try to remember back to my thoughts of INS as I first saw it in the theater.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">
During the opening credits I’m watching the paradasaic community thinking, okay get on with it.  Later, I loved the concept of this advanced society that had high technology but had limited its usage and hidden it behind their simplistic agricultural lifestyle.  Though the community was interesting, I couldn’t believe they spent so much money on the set of the Ba’ku village.  Same with the palm pet; it had to REAL purpose so why did they spend the money designing a space hamster and rendering it with CGI?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">I thought the first enterprise scene was cute, with classical Trek humor while I loved the dress uniforms and especially appreciated the line “Can anyone remember when we used to be explorers?”  Then Worf walks in out of nowhere; somehow he came aboard without the captain knowing he was coming.  I understand they want Dorn in the TNG movies but it felt like they didn’t how to bring him in purposefully like in FC so they didn’t bother trying.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">I thought the scout ship and shuttle were the coolest shuttles trek ever had but the scene was too silly for me.  You are singing during a dogfight in hopes the musical will bring Data to his senses!?!  Then when they bring Data to his senses and Data figures out what happened, I felt the plot was unraveled haphazardly which left me felling lost for a few minutes.  Data’s floatation device was also a little TOO silly.  Geordi gaining sight and wanting to enjoy a sunset was moving.  But Picard figures out the value of the Briar Patch when he feels like dancing?  What!?!

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">The Son’a and admiral were great villains.  Abraham really got under your skin and Picard’s preaching to the admiral about how many people does the operation have to affect until it becomes wrong was one of Stewart’s best moments in the franchise.  Then you find out the Son’a are a bunch of exiled extremists out to get revenge on their parents and you REALLY hate them.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">I loved it when Picard goes to leave and his crew rallies behind him but felt the yacht usage was a bit gratuitous; it was cool, made up for not seeing the D’s yacht, but not really necessary.  I felt like they just wanted something they could make a toy out of and they had the budget to render it.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">When they Ba’ku are abandoning the village to hide, I was reminded of the tragedy of the trail of tears and the gravity of the plot really sunk in.  I then saw the movie was trying to recreate that type of event as a social commentary.  It was a classic Trek allegory.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">Data talking about Worf’s breasts firming up was hilarious.  Riker shined in command of the E.  In fact, the visuals of the Enterprise were all beautifully done; you could lose yourself in those space shots. I loved Riker “shoving the Briar patch down their throats”.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;"> 

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt;">As I left, I remember being blown away by the special effects, thinking they upped the CGI bar after FC.  I also deeply appreciated the allegory of one society pushing around a lesser society because they wanted their land and could (Trek did it before Avatar).  Though I enjoyed many of the jokes, I felt it got a little too silly.  I felt satisfied as I left the theater; though I thought it wasn’t as great as FC, I felt it was just as epic and was glad the movie DIDN’T involve time travel.

>


 


A lot of what you say I agree with.


Who am I to argue with the captain of the Enterprise?

Matthias Russell

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POSTS: 7705

Report this May. 11 2011, 10:50 am

I think Insurrection suffered from what a lot of post-The Voyage Home movies suffered, and that was the idea that a “lighter” film automatically means greater audience accessibility. Insurrection also suffered terribly from “too many cooks in the kitchen.” If you read the making-of stories, the studio wanted it to be one thing, Berman wanted it to be another, and Piller was going in a different direction, and then you had the ever-present Spiner and Stewart lobbying for what THEY felt needed to be done.


I can agree with this.  I will add to this that here you see reasons why ST09 did so well by contrast.  There was one central figure at the helm with actors who didn’t have the clout to make judgment calls.  and the comic relief was kept to a minimum.


 


This is essentially a morality lesson on the pitfalls of subjugating the will of a small population for the betterment of a much larger and needier population. It puts the crew in the position to have to make some critical decisions with potentially far-reaching impact.


I agree this was a big strength to the film, that it was a social commentary and I appreciated that it also showed that sometimes morality and the law aren’t on the same side.


 


The Riker and Troi flirting, which could have been a sappy-crappy disaster was handled quite well. It was fun, but not over-the-top, and it served as a nice pay-off to fans of those characters and that relationship.


Agree again.  They FINALLY got this done.  Also a great line, “Smooth as an android’s bottom, eh Data?”


 


Much of Jonathan Frakes’ direction is very good.


I’m not sure I can agree with this because though it had breathtaking scenes, the failure of a film does rest largely on the shoulders of the director.  I think he got a little carried away in spending on scenery and CGI that didn’t really bring anything to the film when more effort should have been spent in laying out the story.  I won’t say he is a bad director, though.


 


The initial shock of Data going berserk and the Enterprise being sent in to handle it is over quickly as Picard and Worf sing show tunes and everything is quickly back to normal. I was never given an emotional basis to care about the B’aku. The whole holoship idea is nonsense? Why are they even bothering trying to trick these people? Whatever planet they relocate these people to will doubtlessly be rather obvious.


In complete agreement here.


 


 


The So’na plot is so convoluted and contrived that it nearly brings the movie crashing down.


I disagree on this one.  I thought the hidden agenda was incredible.  You think this race wants the planet because they are dying out and they are trying to save their society but then you find out they are actually the sons and daughter of the Baku and are just bad apples out to revenge the good people who cast them out.  Their motive wasn’t saving themselves as much as revenge.  This added great depth to me.


 


 


Humor has to be driven naturally and come from a natural place to work well. This felt like it was one step above something a 13 year old would have written if they were told to “make Star Trek, but make it funny.”


Agree.  I laughed but I’d say half the humor just didn’t work and felt more like the cast having fun than their characters acting natural.


 


Tired, contrived action scenes are all over the place in this movie. The space battle has no heart, no life, and no real tension.


I disagree.  Sure they didn’t have Chang’s dialog but from the moment the E entered orbit with the other ships, I was like “Oh s---, it’s going down later!”  I loved the bussard collectors being put to a functional use.  It was creative weaponizing the propulsion system.  The battle was necessary, I would have thought it stupid if the Son’a just let them leave.  The joystick WAS dumb, though.


 


I’ve seen this movie (easily) 30 times, and I still have trouble remembering the names of any of the principle guest characters.


Wow, you’re right.  All I can think of is Aneej, or whatever, lol.  But maybe this is because we rarely talk about the movie.  Abraham, like McDowell, is a superb actor and needed a bigger role.  I was shocked he took the role considering how under-used he was an the antagonist.


 


There is no drama, tension, or heart in this film. Everything feels manufactured and forced in those departments. There’s nothing that grabs my interest or makes me sit on the edge of my seat with interest or excitement.


We’ll agree to disagree here.  I personally thought the film had all of this though it could have been given more.


 


This is NOT a major motion picture. The scope of the movie is barely capable of filling out a one-hour episode with relevant dramatic content. Ultimately, it’s a film that adds nothing to the franchise or the TNG characters.


I think if this is true, it is true of all 10 prime universe films.  I just think trek, by nature makes a better tv show, than film.  If it feels like a tv show, it is being true to itself.


 


I think it's nice to go a bit lighter after First Contact, and take a different direction than to put Earth in jeopardy again.


Excellent points.


 


Could I ask if anyone else liked the guest cast in Insurrection?


I thought the guest cast was all very well done, but not used to their full potential in some cases.


KelisThePoet

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Report this May. 11 2011, 10:19 pm

I know I'm in the minority, but I quite like Insurrection.  That isn't to say I like everything about it.  Troi is one of my least favorite Star Trek characters, and her behavior in this movie exemplifies why.  She seldom acts like a counselor.  In this movie, Data does a better job of emotionally counseling the little boy.  And all too often, she is written like a stereotypical girly girl.  In my opinion, the way she flirts with Riker and giggles with Crusher and whatnot is boring at best, offensively unrealistic at worst.


Another thing I didn't care for in Insurrection was the plot twist of the Sona being exiled Baku.  I thought this was an unnecessary plot convolution and almost reduced the interesting and unique plot of the movie to a rehash of the more familiar (and more tired) revenge and redemption theme.


I'm trying to wrap my head around some of the negative things said about this movie, as contrasted with my experience of it.  One of the recurring complaints about the movie seems to be that it was light and silly.  I thought the movie had one of the darker premises of a Star Trek, with high ranking Starfleet officials selling out on Federation principles and the implication that all this was necessary in a war weary, dying Federation.  I thought the less complicated heroism of Picard and his crew balanced this dark premise nicely.  Some of the silly humor struck a less elegant balance, I'll admit.  But I don't think any of the humor was sillier or more out of place than, say, the corny jokes in Star Trek V or Kirk's swollen hands in the new Star Trek.


People seem to repeatedly accuse this movie of feeling more like a TV episode than a cinematic experience.  Is this, at least in part, because the movie is episodic, because it doesn't drastically change the lives of its characters?  This really doesn't bother me.  I appreciate seeing character growth when it's handled well (as in Star Trek II), but for me, nothing is worse than when writers do a poor job of trying to change and grow their characters.  And in a franchise of continuing movies, if the writers are always trying to up the stakes and bring major changes to their characters' lives, those lives quickly start to look like an unrealistic, melodramatic soap opera.  I'd much prefer an adventure that simply tries or tests our heroes' characters, an episodic ordeal in which my protagonists prove their special worth precisely by emerging unscathed.  If that kind of adventure is unrealistic, it's no more unrealistic than the soap operatic string of character disasters, and (for me) the adventure is more fun to watch.


Falor was a prosperous merchant who went on a journey to gain greater awareness: Through storms he crossed the Voroth Sea/ To reach the clouded shores of Raal/ Where old T’Para offered truth./ He traveled through the windswept hills/ And crossed the barren Fire Plains/ To find the silent monks of Kir./ Still unfulfilled, he journeyed home/ Told stories of the lessons learned/ And gained true wisdom by the giving. – Falor’s Journey, “Innocence”

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