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Writing: review

Discuss with other students:
  1. What different things are reviewed in newspapers/magazines?
  2. To what extent do you feel you are influenced by reviews?
2 Look at this information about writing reviews. Then read the review on the right. Does it contain the different elements referred to? Is it a good review? Why/why not?

You could be asked to review any of the following: films, television programmes, books, exhibitions, concerts or other performances.
You will generally be asked to review from a particular perspective e.g. why the film or book would would not be interesting for people of your own age. You may be asked to compare and contrast two similar events or two different things e.g. a book with a film.

Reviews usually include the following elements*:
  1. Background information about the author of the book/the director of the film the theatre company e.g. 'Women are from Mars too' is director Alex Hernandez's second film.
  2. A brief account of the plot of the film book play or a brief description of the performance or exhibition e.g. The action takes place in Chicago in the late 1980s. Three young people sharing an apartment find themselves taking care of a friend's pet puma.
  3. Critical comment (either positive or negative) about what you saw or read e.g. The author successfully creates an atmosphere of suspense.
  4. Your personal opinion and recommendation e.g. This is a wonderful adaptation of a famous novel. I recommend the film to anyone interested in Russia.

*Reviews of more than one book, play etc. may recycle the elements (1234, 1234.)


Director Ridley Scott, noted for his elaborate production design on 'Alien', again brings to the screen a brilliantly conceived view of the future. Based on Philip K. Dick's story, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?', the film stars Harrison Ford as Deckard, a dogeared cop recently retired from his position as a 'blade runner, a sort of officially authorised bounty hunter.
Thanks to some amazing special effects, 'Blade Runner' is a mesmerising peek into the near future. Set in a horribly polluted Los Angeles teeming with street urchins, the story explores Ridley Scott's neon nightmare vision of things to come. As a 'blade runner', Deckard must hunt down androids called 'replicants', genetically-pioneered robots with human appearance and superhuman abilities who have been designed to explore other worlds and build colonies in space. A group of replicants have rebelled against their four-year lifespan and fled to Earth to find the key to immortality. Deckard's mission is to hunt the escapees down.
This is a hugely influential movie which time has neither dimmed nor diluted. In the war between human and non-human, both sides pose the same global questions; who am I, where am I going, how long have I got to live? In fact, Ridley Scott's vision looks as fresh today as it did in 1982. The foundation of this is the film's look, its atmosphere and attention to detail; this is where the film scores so highly. Quite simply Blade Runner is one of the most stunning examples of pure cinema ever made. If you haven't seen it yet, you just don't know what you've been missing.

3 In the review there were a number of adverb + adjective/participle collocations e.g. brilliantly conceived, horribly polluted, hugely influential. Look at the table below and decide which of the adverbs on the left can collocate with the words on the right.
highly successful
profoundly amusing
utterly moving
excruciatingly ridiculous
amazingly disappointing
4 Decide what you are going to review. Look through the model review. Writing reference and the useful language resources. Make a note of any words or phrases you think you might be able to use in your review.

An international magazine for young people is doing a series of reviews of books/films called / had to see/read it again! You have been asked to contribute a 250-word review of a book or film that you have read or seen more than once and which made a deep impression. Give some background information to the book or film, briefly describe the contents and then summarise your feelings about it and why it made such an impact on you.

5 Now write your review, taking care to:
  1. respond to all the parts of the question
  2. organise your review into paragraphs (Check the elements of a good review in Exercise 2 above.)
  3. begin your review in a way that captures the reader's interest use a wide range of interesting vocabulary
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