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Xan Brooks’ Stellar “Gravity” Review Shows How It’s Done

In response to Xan Brooks’s 461‑word review of Gravity on Guardian [UK]

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Xan Brooks’ “Gravity—first look review” courts the interstellar, and the result is stellar: a beguiling work that touches earth, takes for the stars, and hovers a while before guiding readers back home.

“Spare a thought,“ First Look Review encourages its readers, for some of the unlucky characters they’re introduced to in the first few moments. These people are earthbound, even vexingly so, and Brooks makes them a case-in-point. In First Look Review, space travel has been thoroughly democratized so even the least likely astronaut has access to the stars.

The meta fades into the immediate as Brooks delivers a thoroughly engaging critique that concerns itself most, it seems, with respect and generosity to the audience. It’s a syntactically perfect offering—words, brilliant ones, fall into place rather than implying the phenomenal mental effort that must certainly have gone into their choice.

Too soon, audiences are transported from their jaunt to the (figurative and literal) stars to a screening room, where they’re left to find their land legs in a final burst of imaginative wordplay and a coda that feels a little sad. It’s meant to.  First Look Review is, after all, entirely in control of its audience. The effect is resplendent.

A spoiler in the middle, and one that feels fairly dramatic, cuts like a knife. It’s the Achilles heel of what might have been this season’s perfect offering.

In spite of the misstep, audiences should waste no time whatever clamoring to read Brooks’ superior First Look Review.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation