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How to Write a Movie Review
Last Updated: January 18, 2024 Fact Checked
wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 178 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 5,522,788 times. Learn more...
Whether a movie is a rotten tomato or a brilliant work of art, if people are watching it, it's worth critiquing. A decent movie review should entertain, persuade and inform, providing an original opinion without giving away too much of the plot. A great movie review can be a work of art in its own right. Read on to learn how to analyze a movie like a professional film critic, come up with an interesting thesis, and write a review as entertaining as your source material.
Sample Movie Reviews
Writing an Intro for a Movie Review
- Comparison to Relevant Event or Movie: "Every day, our leaders, politicians, and pundits call for "revenge"– against terrorist groups, against international rivals, against other political parties. But few of them understand the cold, destructive, and ultimately hollow thrill of revenge as well as the characters of Blue Ruin. "
- Review in a nutshell: "Despite a compelling lead performance by Tom Hanks and a great soundtrack, Forrest Gump never gets out of the shadow of its weak plot and questionable premise."
- Context or Background Information: " Boyhood might be the first movie made where knowing how it was produced–slowly, over 12 years, with the same actors–is just as crucial as the movie itself."
- Using stars, a score out of 10 or 100, or the simple thumbs-up and thumbs-down is a quick way to give your thoughts. You then write about why you chose that rating.
- Great Movie: ABC is the rare movie that succeeds on almost every level, where each character, scene, costume, and joke firing on all cylinders to make a film worth repeated viewings."
- Bad Movie: "It doesn't matter how much you enjoy kung-fu and karate films: with 47 Ronin, you're better off saving your money, your popcorn, and time."
- Okay Movie: "I loved the wildly uneven Interstellar far more than I should have, but that doesn't mean it is perfect. Ultimately, the utter awe and spectacle of space swept me through the admittedly heavy-handed plotting and dialogue."
- Great: "Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer's chemistry would carry Fruitvale Station even if the script wasn't as good. The mid-movie prison scene in particular, where the camera never leaves their faces, shows how much they can convey with nothing but their eyelids, the flashing tension of neck muscles, and a barely cracking voice."
- Bad: " Jurassic World's biggest flaw, a complete lack of relatable female characters, is only further underscored by a laughably unrealistic shot of our heroine running away from a dinosaur – in heels."
- Okay: "At the end of the day, Snowpiercer can't decide what kind of movie it wants to be. The attention to detail in fight scenes, where every weapon, lightbulb, and slick patch of ground is accounted for, doesn't translate to an ending that seems powerful but ultimately says little of substance."
- Does the film reflect on a current event or contemporary issue? It could be the director's way of engaging in a bigger conversation. Look for ways to relate the content of the film to the "real" world.
- Does the film seem to have a message, or does it attempt to elicit a specific response or emotion from the audience? You could discuss whether or not it achieves its own goals.
- Does the film connect with you on a personal level? You could write a review stemming from your own feelings and weave in some personal stories to make it interesting for your readers.
Composing Your Review
- When you name characters in your plot summary, list the actors' names directly afterward in parenthesis.
- Find a place to mention the director's name and the full movie title.
- If you feel you must discuss information that might "spoil" things for readers, warn them first.
- Cinematography: " Her is a world drenched in color, using bright, soft reds and oranges alongside calming whites and grays that both build, and slowly strip away, the feelings of love between the protagonists. Every frame feels like a painting worth sitting in."
- Tone: "Despite the insane loneliness and high stakes of being stuck alone on Mars, The Martian's witty script keeps humor and excitement alive in every scene. Space may be dangerous and scary, but the joy of scientific discovery is intoxicating."
- Music and Sound: " No Country For Old Men's bold decision to skip music entirely pays off in spades. The eerie silence of the desert, punctuated by the brief spells of violent, up-close-and-personal sound effects of hunter and hunted, keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat."
- Acting: "While he's fantastic whenever he's on the move, using his cool stoicism to counteract the rampaging bus, Keanu Reeves can't quite match his costar in the quiet moments of Speed, which falter under his expressionless gaze."
- Keep your writing clear and easy to understand. Don't use too much technical filmmaking jargon, and make your language crisp and accessible.
- Present both the facts and your opinion. For example, you might state something such as, "The Baroque background music was a jarring contrast to the 20th century setting." This is a lot more informative then simply saying, "The music was a strange choice for the movie."
- Great: "In the end, even the characters of Blue Ruin know how pointless their feud is. But revenge, much like every taut minute of this thriller, is far too addictive to give up until the bitter end.""
- Bad: "Much like the oft-mentioned "box of chocolates", Forest Gump has a couple of good little morsels. But most of the scenes, too sweet by half, should have been in the trash long before this movie was put out."
- Okay: "Without the novel, even revolutionary concept, Boyhood may not be a great movie. It might not even be "good.” But the power the film finds in the beauty of passing time and little, inconsequential moments – moments that could only be captured over 12 years of shooting – make Linklater's latest an essential film for anyone interested in the art of film."
Polishing Your Piece
- Ask yourself whether your review stayed true to your thesis. Did your conclusion tie back in with the initial ideas you proposed?
- Decide whether your review contains enough details about the movie. You may need to go back and add more description here and there to give readers a better sense of what the movie's about.
- Decide whether your review is interesting enough as a stand-alone piece of writing. Did you contribute something original to this discussion? What will readers gain from reading your review that they couldn't from simply watching the movie?
Studying Your Source Material
- The title of the film, and the year it came out.
- The director's name.
- The names of the lead actors.
- Make a note every time something sticks out to you, whether it's good or bad. This could be costuming, makeup, set design, music, etc. Think about how this detail relates to the rest of the movie and what it means in the context of your review.
- Take note of patterns you begin to notice as the movie unfolds.
- Use the pause button frequently so you make sure not to miss anything, and rewind as necessary.
- Direction: Consider the director and how he or she choose to portray/explain the events in the story. If the movie was slow, or didn't include things you thought were necessary, you can attribute this to the director. If you've seen other movies directed by the same person, compare them and determine which you like the most.
- Cinematography: What techniques were used to film the movie? What setting and background elements helped to create a certain tone?
- Writing: Evaluate the script, including dialogue and characterization. Did you feel like the plot was inventive and unpredictable or boring and weak? Did the characters' words seem credible to you?
- Editing: Was the movie choppy or did it flow smoothly from scene to scene? Did they incorporate a montage to help build the story? And was this obstructive to the narrative or did it help it? Did they use long cuts to help accentuate an actor's acting ability or many reaction shots to show a group's reaction to an event or dialogue? If visual effects were used were the plates well-chosen and were the composited effects part of a seamless experience? (Whether the effects looked realistic or not is not the jurisdiction of an editor, however, they do choose the footage to be sent off to the compositors, so this could still affect the film.)
- Costume design: Did the clothing choices fit the style of the movie? Did they contribute to the overall tone, rather than digressing from it?
- Set design: Consider how the setting of the film influenced its other elements. Did it add or subtract from the experience for you? If the movie was filmed in a real place, was this location well-chosen?
- Score or soundtrack: Did it work with the scenes? Was it over/under-used? Was it suspenseful? Amusing? Irritating? A soundtrack can make or break a movie, especially if the songs have a particular message or meaning to them.
- If you don't like the movie, don't be abusive and mean. If possible, avoid watching the movies that you would surely hate. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Understand that just because the movie isn't to your taste, that doesn't mean you should give it a bad review. A good reviewer helps people find movie's they will like. Since you don't have the same taste in movies as everyone else, you need to be able to tell people if they will enjoy the movie, even if you didn't. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Structure is very important; try categorizing the different parts of the film and commenting on each of those individually. Deciding how good each thing is will help you come to a more accurate conclusion. For example, things like acting, special effects, cinematography, think about how good each of those are. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_film/terminology_and_starting_prompts.html
- ↑ https://www.spiritofbaraka.com/how-write-a-movie-review
- ↑ https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/9-tips-for-writing-a-film-review/
- ↑ https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/writing-help/top-tips-for-writing-a-review
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/summary-using-it-wisely/
- ↑ https://twp.duke.edu/sites/twp.duke.edu/files/file-attachments/film-review-1.original.pdf
- ↑ https://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-tips-for-writing-a-film-review/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/writing_in_literature/writing_about_film/film_writing_sample_analysis.html
- ↑ https://learning.hccs.edu/faculty/onnyx.bei/dual-credit/movie-review-writing-guide
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-a-movie-review/
- ↑ https://gustavus.edu/writingcenter/handoutdocs/editing_proofreading.php
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
- ↑ https://edusson.com/blog/how-to-write-movie-review
About This Article
To write a movie review, start with a compelling fact or opinion to hook your readers, like "Despite a great performance by Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump never overcomes its weak plot." Then, elaborate on your opinion of the movie right off the bat so readers know where you stand. Once your opinion is clear, provide examples from the movie that prove your point, like specific scenes, dialogue, songs, or camera shots. To learn how to study a film closely before you write a review, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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How to Write a Movie Review: 9 Essential Tips
Whether you are an actor, a filmmaker, or a film geek through and through, writing film reviews can help hone your ability to think critically. With experience writing reviews, cinephiles can watch movies with a more thoughtful and intentional perspective. This skill enables viewers to have a response that goes deeper than “That movie was awesome!” And for you future film reviewers out there, it’s never too soon to start.
How to Write a Movie Review
While there’s no perfect approach to writing a movie review, there are definitely best practices that every aspiring reviewer can consider. Here are nine tips on writing a compelling piece.
1. Watch the film at least once.
When writing a film review, once is necessary, but twice is preferable. It’s impossible to capture every detail and thought only after one viewing. Throughout watching the film, taking detailed notes is also a good idea. This will help the writing process and make it easy to refer to your in-the-moment thoughts and reactions.
2. Express your opinions and support your criticism.
Professional reviewers do not shy away from telling their readers whether they thought a movie was good, bad, or indifferent. In fact, readers rely on those reviewers whose tastes reflect their own. Be sure to back up these thoughts with specifics–a disappointing performance, a ridiculous plot, beautiful cinematography, difficult material that leaves you thinking, and so on. Professional reviewers can express why and how they came to their criticism.
3. Consider your audience.
Are you writing for a fan site or a news outlet? Who will read your pieces, and what are their interests? Knowing who your readers are can help you decide what elements of the movie to highlight. You can also adjust your writing style to fit the target audience and the tone they’re used to reading.
4. Talk about the acting.
Many casual filmgoers will be inspired to see a movie if a favorite actor is in it, so you should probably spend a little space talking about the performances. Does the film feature a seasoned actor in a new kind of role or a brilliant performance from a rising star? How was the acting? Feedback about how well the actors handled the script, the dynamics in an ensemble, and so much more can help describe how the actors did in any given film.
5. Call out directors, cinematographers, and special effects.
This is where your film geek can really shine. Tell your readers about the highlights or missteps of directors, cinematographers, costume designers, and CGI. What worked, what surprised you, and what fell short of expectations are all great questions to address in the body of your review. It helps to have some knowledge of filmmaking , as well. That’s why film students with writing experience can actually make great reviewers. At NYFA, for instance, many film students study a range of topics relating to film that can include screenwriting, producing, and much more.
6. No spoilers!
Give your readers some idea of the plot, but be careful not to include any spoilers. Remember, the point of a good review is to get people interested in going to the movie. Don’t get over-excited and ruin it for them!
7. Study the professionals.
As with all writing endeavors, the more you read, the better. And when you read film reviews that you like (or don’t like), think about why. Use your critical eye to consider why one reviewer has a hundred thousand followers and another only has two. Be sure to read the publications where you’d like your writing to appear as a template for your reviews, and don’t forget to read the submission guidelines. A few examples of film review professionals include Rotten Tomatoes , Roger Ebert , and Film Comment .
8. Reread, rewrite, and edit.
Edit your work. Your opinions will not be taken seriously if you misspell the director’s name or can’t put together a grammatically correct sentence. Take the time to check your spelling and edit your piece for organizational flow.
9. Find your voice.
The best reviewers have a distinct personality that comes across in their writing. This does not happen overnight, so take every opportunity to write as an opportunity to develop your own style and voice that will grab the reader’s attention and keep them coming back for more.
Learn More About Filmmaking at NYFA
Writing film reviews is a great way to pursue your passion for film. Ready to build even more skills in filmmaking? Request more information about New York Film Academy’s filmmaking programs and workshops today!
Quick Guide on How to Write a Movie Review Essay
What Is a Movie Review
The internet has revolutionized the realm of film criticism. No matter a movie's level of quality, it is always worth analyzing. Despite the growing number of individuals attempting to write about movies, few are successful. Most people do not provide insightful analysis, instead simply state how much they liked or disliked the film.
A movie criticism, usually composed by a professional in film studies, takes a comprehensive look at the film from a historical, social, political, or theoretical standpoint. This is unlike the opinion or suggestion given in a movie review, which is shorter and more concise.
A remarkable aspect of a good film review is that it doesn't just rate the movie but provides explicit views that form the critique's basis. This form of writing, like crafting essays, research papers, and term papers, should be insightful and draw the reader in quickly. It's important to discuss the reputation of the lead actors and directors and to write about what you expected and if they were met. The reviewer must explain a story's development without recalling major plot points and endings. The review must be concise, engaging, and should involve metaphors, specific words, analogies, etc.
Movie Review Purpose
Most film reviews are intended to guide readers in deciding whether to view, rent, or purchase the film. They should provide the necessary information to aid readers in deciding without divulging any fundamental details, such as the storyline or any surprises. This paper is common in schools because the lecturer wants to evaluate the student's ability to think critically and report the event easily for others to understand.
Movie reviews typically present a brief summary of the film's storyline. They provide readers with an overview of the characters, relationships, and scenarios but do not convey the complete narrative. Perusing the review should be different from seeing the movie. Nonetheless, feel free to highlight the essential moments or pivotal points that make the film worthwhile viewing.
Our college essay writing service has put together some advice on composing a movie review essay like a real critic, so let's explore the article further!
How to Write a Movie Review: Movie Review Outline
The structure is key when it comes to the quality of your paper. Don't neglect the power of a good outline, no matter what paper you're writing. Outlines help you stay on track and make sure your paper flows well.
Taking the time to arrange your ideas before starting to write is an effective way to save time further down the line. With a well-structured plan already in place, you won't have to worry about other elements. This will also make the writing process less stressful. Here is a guide on how to organize your movie review outline:
How Do You Start a Movie Review Essay: Introduction
The introductory paragraph is the first obvious step in crafting a movie review essay outline. Here, you want to quickly captivate the reader. Deliver your viewpoint instantly and make it unambiguous. Don't leave the audience wondering whether you enjoyed the film. Tell them right off the bat so you have time to justify your assessment throughout the remainder of the process.
In the introduction movie review should also describe your thesis. Develop the main concept for your essay that you can support using your perceptions of the movie's various aspects. The reader should be able to tell from this statement if you thought the film was fantastic, awful, or simply alright. By including a thesis statement, you may move your analysis beyond the plot synopsis phase into the movie critique category, which is considered a separate creative process.
Crafting Your Essay Movie Review Analysis
According to our research paper service , film analysis is similar to building a case. You're attempting to influence the reader to follow your recommendation to watch or disregard the film. So, you must ensure your essay movie review will be convincing. Giving instances that demonstrate the validity of your personal opinion is the only method to do this. If you find any dialogue in the movie that you think best exemplifies whether the work is strong or not, utilize quotes. This also applies to all of the movie's artistic decisions. But, just because a movie's narrative isn't strong or engaging doesn't indicate the rest of the film is worthless. Carefully highlight how some factors might undermine the movie in your explanation.
The movie's plot is only one component and shouldn't dominate the overall piece. The following are the important aspects to include in your movie review structure:
Cinematography - Cinematography covers much more than simply camera angles. It includes how the picture is lit, how it moves, appears, and what lenses are used. Here you can try the following analysis: 'Warm, gentle colors are used throughout the film, combined with soothing whites and grays, to simultaneously create and gradually tear away the characters' romantic sentiments for one another. There is a painting-like quality to each image.'
Editing - The editing is arguably the absolute star of what creates a good movie review example. It affects both the duration and the flow of a movie. Without effective editing, there would be uncomfortable gaps between pictures and many errors.
Costuming - The clothing the characters wear is called a costume, but there are a number of things to consider while evaluating movie costumes. You should be able to decide if the outfits suit the characters and the movie's atmosphere.
Casting and Acting - Finding the ideal performers to bring characters to life is the goal of casting. This sometimes entails seeing performers portray both familiar personas and figures who are entirely at odds with who they are. Casting, therefore, involves more than just finding talented performers. You can assess the acting in the following way: 'Even though he excels while on the go, his stoic behaviorism causes him to fall short of his co-star during calm scenes where he keeps a blank look on his face.'
Once you have finished analyzing the acting, directing, cinematography, setting, etc., wrap up with concise, stimulating wording to sustain readers' attention. Don't forget to provide a few examples to support your statements about the film.
Concluding Your Essay Movie Review
Finalize your review by coming full circle. Close the review by returning to your introductory fact or thesis. Give your readers a refresher on the movie's most intriguing aspects. It's important to remember that before choosing a movie, viewers check reviews. Finish with a statement indicating whether it is worthwhile for them to view. Be specific about who this movie will be more fascinating to and why in your suggestions. Remember that your ending is your last shot at influencing your audience, so use it wisely.
No matter the kind of movie review you have to complete, our professional specialists are willing to help you. Directly forward your needs to our research paper service and get it done quickly.
Need Help With MOVIE REVIEW WRITING?
No matter what type of movie review you want, our qualified specialists are ready to assist you.
Short Movie Review Form
If you are currently working on a new or old movie review, reading our suggestions should be sufficient to help you earn an A. So what if you'll be writing many reviews in the future? In this situation, we advise you to develop a uniform movie review template, which will enable you to save time and complete your upcoming projects successfully.
So, how to write a movie review template, you may ask? Well, our essay helper prepared a simple yet great movie review template you may use as a foundation for your own writing if you need some help getting started:
Once you know how to review a movie and learn the most valuable tips to handle this assignment, it is time to look at some movie review examples to get you on the right track.
Check out the following pieces to see which of these movie review essay examples you might want to keep at hand when working on your own assignment:
Helpful Tips on Writing Movie Reviews
Here are some extra helpful tips to keep in mind when unsure how to write a movie review essay:
- Add Your Own Personal Feel to Your Movie Critique - You might not have much spare time for your pastime of reviewing. You won't be able to write a movie review, though, if you just wing it without reading what others have said. Make a note of the things that intrigued you, alarmed you, made you uncomfortable, or caused you to pause and consider something, and then use that list as the basis for your research.
- Develop a Distinctive Writing Style - Have an idol—it's good for you. You must be careful not to just paraphrase and duplicate what they say without adding your own original viewpoint. Instead, in order to stand out from the throng, you must discover your own voice. When writing movie reviews, you should also have a distinct writing style.
- Include Extensive Information -Mention the film's photographer, special effects designer, and director. Your review might be significantly impacted by this. Then you may list all the memorable movie moments that also stuck with you.
- Voice Your Views and Back Up Your Criticism - Give your own assessment of the film. Make sure you have evidence to support your criticisms. Use the movie's details that most shocked or humiliated you. Review genuine information rather than merely expressing your opinions without supporting details.
Composing a good movie review essay sample is easy if you follow this article's main steps and techniques. Furthermore, we strongly believe that this guide will assist you in achieving remarkable outcomes and ease your writing process. The staff at EssayPro is always available to provide a helping hand if you need a little additional push with movie review examples or even if it's simply coming up with a catchy essay title .
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FAQs on Writing an Essay Movie Review
Here are the most frequently asked questions on how to write a movie review. We provided extra details on movie analysis to simplify writing film reviews.
What are the 6 Important Things to Include in a Film Review?
How long should a movie review be, what are the 5 c's in film, related articles.
What this handout is about.
This handout introduces film analysis and and offers strategies and resources for approaching film analysis assignments.
Writing the film analysis essay
Writing a film analysis requires you to consider the composition of the film—the individual parts and choices made that come together to create the finished piece. Film analysis goes beyond the analysis of the film as literature to include camera angles, lighting, set design, sound elements, costume choices, editing, etc. in making an argument. The first step to analyzing the film is to watch it with a plan.
Watching the film
First it’s important to watch the film carefully with a critical eye. Consider why you’ve been assigned to watch a film and write an analysis. How does this activity fit into the course? Why have you been assigned this particular film? What are you looking for in connection to the course content? Let’s practice with this clip from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Here are some tips on how to watch the clip critically, just as you would an entire film:
- Give the clip your undivided attention at least once. Pay close attention to details and make observations that might start leading to bigger questions.
- Watch the clip a second time. For this viewing, you will want to focus specifically on those elements of film analysis that your class has focused on, so review your course notes. For example, from whose perspective is this clip shot? What choices help convey that perspective? What is the overall tone, theme, or effect of this clip?
- Take notes while you watch for the second time. Notes will help you keep track of what you noticed and when, if you include timestamps in your notes. Timestamps are vital for citing scenes from a film!
For more information on watching a film, check out the Learning Center’s handout on watching film analytically . For more resources on researching film, including glossaries of film terms, see UNC Library’s research guide on film & cinema .
Once you’ve watched the film twice, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas based on your notes. Brainstorming is a major step that helps develop and explore ideas. As you brainstorm, you may want to cluster your ideas around central topics or themes that emerge as you review your notes. Did you ask several questions about color? Were you curious about repeated images? Perhaps these are directions you can pursue.
If you’re writing an argumentative essay, you can use the connections that you develop while brainstorming to draft a thesis statement . Consider the assignment and prompt when formulating a thesis, as well as what kind of evidence you will present to support your claims. Your evidence could be dialogue, sound edits, cinematography decisions, etc. Much of how you make these decisions will depend on the type of film analysis you are conducting, an important decision covered in the next section.
After brainstorming, you can draft an outline of your film analysis using the same strategies that you would for other writing assignments. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you prepare for this stage of the assignment:
- Make sure you understand the prompt and what you are being asked to do. Remember that this is ultimately an assignment, so your thesis should answer what the prompt asks. Check with your professor if you are unsure.
- In most cases, the director’s name is used to talk about the film as a whole, for instance, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo .” However, some writers may want to include the names of other persons who helped to create the film, including the actors, the cinematographer, and the sound editor, among others.
- When describing a sequence in a film, use the literary present. An example could be, “In Vertigo , Hitchcock employs techniques of observation to dramatize the act of detection.”
- Finding a screenplay/script of the movie may be helpful and save you time when compiling citations. But keep in mind that there may be differences between the screenplay and the actual product (and these differences might be a topic of discussion!).
- Go beyond describing basic film elements by articulating the significance of these elements in support of your particular position. For example, you may have an interpretation of the striking color green in Vertigo , but you would only mention this if it was relevant to your argument. For more help on using evidence effectively, see the section on “using evidence” in our evidence handout .
Also be sure to avoid confusing the terms shot, scene, and sequence. Remember, a shot ends every time the camera cuts; a scene can be composed of several related shots; and a sequence is a set of related scenes.
Different types of film analysis
As you consider your notes, outline, and general thesis about a film, the majority of your assignment will depend on what type of film analysis you are conducting. This section explores some of the different types of film analyses you may have been assigned to write.
Semiotic analysis is the interpretation of signs and symbols, typically involving metaphors and analogies to both inanimate objects and characters within a film. Because symbols have several meanings, writers often need to determine what a particular symbol means in the film and in a broader cultural or historical context.
For instance, a writer could explore the symbolism of the flowers in Vertigo by connecting the images of them falling apart to the vulnerability of the heroine.
Here are a few other questions to consider for this type of analysis:
- What objects or images are repeated throughout the film?
- How does the director associate a character with small signs, such as certain colors, clothing, food, or language use?
- How does a symbol or object relate to other symbols and objects, that is, what is the relationship between the film’s signs?
Many films are rich with symbolism, and it can be easy to get lost in the details. Remember to bring a semiotic analysis back around to answering the question “So what?” in your thesis.
Narrative analysis is an examination of the story elements, including narrative structure, character, and plot. This type of analysis considers the entirety of the film and the story it seeks to tell.
For example, you could take the same object from the previous example—the flowers—which meant one thing in a semiotic analysis, and ask instead about their narrative role. That is, you might analyze how Hitchcock introduces the flowers at the beginning of the film in order to return to them later to draw out the completion of the heroine’s character arc.
To create this type of analysis, you could consider questions like:
- How does the film correspond to the Three-Act Structure: Act One: Setup; Act Two: Confrontation; and Act Three: Resolution?
- What is the plot of the film? How does this plot differ from the narrative, that is, how the story is told? For example, are events presented out of order and to what effect?
- Does the plot revolve around one character? Does the plot revolve around multiple characters? How do these characters develop across the film?
When writing a narrative analysis, take care not to spend too time on summarizing at the expense of your argument. See our handout on summarizing for more tips on making summary serve analysis.
One of the most common types of analysis is the examination of a film’s relationship to its broader cultural, historical, or theoretical contexts. Whether films intentionally comment on their context or not, they are always a product of the culture or period in which they were created. By placing the film in a particular context, this type of analysis asks how the film models, challenges, or subverts different types of relations, whether historical, social, or even theoretical.
For example, the clip from Vertigo depicts a man observing a woman without her knowing it. You could examine how this aspect of the film addresses a midcentury social concern about observation, such as the sexual policing of women, or a political one, such as Cold War-era McCarthyism.
A few of the many questions you could ask in this vein include:
- How does the film comment on, reinforce, or even critique social and political issues at the time it was released, including questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality?
- How might a biographical understanding of the film’s creators and their historical moment affect the way you view the film?
- How might a specific film theory, such as Queer Theory, Structuralist Theory, or Marxist Film Theory, provide a language or set of terms for articulating the attributes of the film?
Take advantage of class resources to explore possible approaches to cultural/historical film analyses, and find out whether you will be expected to do additional research into the film’s context.
A mise-en-scène analysis attends to how the filmmakers have arranged compositional elements in a film and specifically within a scene or even a single shot. This type of analysis organizes the individual elements of a scene to explore how they come together to produce meaning. You may focus on anything that adds meaning to the formal effect produced by a given scene, including: blocking, lighting, design, color, costume, as well as how these attributes work in conjunction with decisions related to sound, cinematography, and editing. For example, in the clip from Vertigo , a mise-en-scène analysis might ask how numerous elements, from lighting to camera angles, work together to present the viewer with the perspective of Jimmy Stewart’s character.
To conduct this type of analysis, you could ask:
- What effects are created in a scene, and what is their purpose?
- How does this scene represent the theme of the movie?
- How does a scene work to express a broader point to the film’s plot?
This detailed approach to analyzing the formal elements of film can help you come up with concrete evidence for more general film analysis assignments.
Reviewing your draft
Once you have a draft, it’s helpful to get feedback on what you’ve written to see if your analysis holds together and you’ve conveyed your point. You may not necessarily need to find someone who has seen the film! Ask a writing coach, roommate, or family member to read over your draft and share key takeaways from what you have written so far.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Aumont, Jacques, and Michel Marie. 1988. L’analyse Des Films . Paris: Nathan.
Media & Design Center. n.d. “Film and Cinema Research.” UNC University Libraries. Last updated February 10, 2021. https://guides.lib.unc.edu/filmresearch .
Oxford Royale Academy. n.d. “7 Ways to Watch Film.” Oxford Royale Academy. Accessed April 2021. https://www.oxford-royale.com/articles/7-ways-watch-films-critically/ .
You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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How to Write a Movie Review
Writing a Film Review
Movies have become a cultural mainstay of our society. Not only are they art and entertainment, but they have also become a way for people to bond and make connections. Finding someone who has a similar taste in movies can create new friendships and start interesting conversations. That's why understanding how to analyze a movie and write movie reviews is such a useful skill.
Do you need to know how to write a movie review for college? Or how to write a movie critique? Or maybe just how to do a movie review? In this article, you will learn how to write a movie review step by step, as well as get an in-depth guide into each section of a movie review.
What is a Movie Review?
A film review essay is more than just a plot summary followed by a recommendation. A movie review analyzes different elements of a movie and mixes personal opinion with objective analysis. The goal of the movie review is to tell the reader about the details of a movie while giving them enough information to decide for themselves whether it's worth watching or not. Of course, a good movie review also has to be interesting and engaging!
How to Write a Good Movie Review
More than most other pieces of writing, there are a lot of steps to take before actually getting into writing a movie review. But don't worry though, most of these steps are pretty fun and if you follow them, you will know how to review movies.
Watch the film!
It goes without saying that you need to watch a movie before you write a review for it, so, before you do anything else, watch the movie at least once. Don't worry about trying to pick up specific details on your first watch, just enjoy the movie and get a general impression of whether you liked it or not and what you liked or disliked. Ideally, you should watch the movie at least two times. On your second and third viewings, pay attention to movie review criteria like cinematography, acting, dialogue, character development, deeper meanings, etc. Read some film review examples to get a sense of the things they talk about.
Pause the movie on your second and third viewings and take notes on things that stand out to you. Don't be afraid to take as many notes as you want, after all these notes are just for you. You might not use all the notes you have taken, but they will help you compose the main part of your body paragraphs.
Express your opinions
Once you have watched the movie a few times and taken notes, make a list of the strongest opinions you have about the movie. If you think that the quality of acting was one of the best parts of the movie, use your notes to come up with specific examples. You should have between 3 and 5 key opinions that you will elaborate on when writing a film review along with examples to back up your claims.
Think about your audience
The language you use is going to change based on who you are writing the movie review for. If it is an assignment for school or university, then you may have to use more technical language. If you're writing an article for a website or personal blog, then think about who the audience is and use language appropriate for them. Keep in mind that your audience also depends on the genre of the movie you are critiquing. A movie review for a serious period drama will have a different audience than a buddy cop comedy and therefore different language. Look at a movie review sample from different genres to get an idea of the type of language to use.
Research the actors
Having big movie stars associated with a film is often one of the main selling points of a movie. If an actor is critically acclaimed, it’s especially important to mention the awards they have won as this is often a sign of the overall quality of the movie. It's also possible that you didn't like the movie overall, but one of your favorite actors was in it so you enjoyed the movie and another fan might enjoy it too.
Do background research
An easy way to make a movie review interesting is to search for interesting details about the making of the movie. It may be worth mentioning if it was shot in a particularly beautiful place or a unique location, or if the special effects were practical rather than CGI. Include interesting casting decisions or other actors that were considered for a particular role. Think about what information could be interesting to someone who might want to watch the movie and include those details. Go over some movie critique examples to get inspiration.
Research the professionals
People can be fans not just of the actors, but of directors, writers, cinematographers, costume designers, and many other elements of filmmaking. Many directors are auteurs, which means they have a very particular visual style or storytelling method. How much time you spend on this section is dependent on your audience. If you're writing for social media or a blog for general people, then this might not be interesting to most. But if you're writing for film school or for a specific audience interested in filmmaking, then this section will need to be more elaborate. Look at a film review example written for different audiences to understand the differences.
Draft an outline
Now that you've done all the required research, it's time to come up with a review outline. An outline is always useful when doing any piece of writing because it gives you a chance to visualize the structure and plan how you want to incorporate information. This is the general film review format.
- Brief summary of the film
- Discuss plot, tone, characters
- Discuss creative and technical elements
- Your opinions
Come up with a catchy title.
Almost more than any other piece of writing, a movie review’s title needs to be engaging. A title like ”film review of (name of the movie) might be to the point, but isn't going to stand out. A good title should grab the reader's attention and make them want to read more. A few ways you can do this is by talking about a specific actor or director, or by using one of the main plot points of the movie. For example, “A Romantic Comedy for the Unromantic”, or “Chris Pratt Plays Against Type in the Best Possible Way”. Look at the titles of some movie review examples for inspiration!
Write your review
It's finally time to get to the actual writing! The next part of this article talks in-depth about each section of a film review.
People aren't going to take a review seriously if you have spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. If it's an assignment for school, then you’re going to lose marks because of mistakes like that. Make sure you reread your paper a few times and check for typos and other silly mistakes. Read the paper out loud once or twice to get an idea of if it has a good flow. Don't be afraid to move sections around if you think it helps you build a stronger case.
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How to Write a Film Review
Do you want a ‘how to write a movie review’ template? Let's go over the specific parts of a film review and what to include in each one.
Your first sentence needs to capture the reader's attention. You can do this by stating an interesting fact about the movie, starting off by expressing your opinion of whether it's good or bad, mentioning some of the important actors, comparing it to other movies in the genre or to real-world events, whatever it is, make sure it's catchy!
Next, give background information about the movie. This includes things like the title, release date, studio, important cast members, director, budget, etc. Make sure to highlight any achievements of the movie, for example, if it was nominated for any awards. The same goes for the director as well as important members of the cast. This shouldn't just be a dry stating of facts, rather this should be a collection of interesting information about the background of the movie.
Finally, end your introduction paragraph with your thesis. In the case of a film review, your thesis is essentially what you thought about the film. Without giving away too much, express your overall impression of the movie noting particular things that you thought stood out or were weak.
Summary of the story
The trick to writing the summary of the story is giving readers an idea of what to expect without giving away any important plot points or spoilers. The goal of this section isn't to explain the plot of the movie, It's to make sure that people have a basic understanding of the story so that the rest of the review can make sense. Describe the setting of the movie, which includes the main locations and time period. Introduce the main characters (including the name of the actor in parentheses after the name of their character). And go over the general storyline.
This is when you start explaining what you thought about the movie. Start with an analysis of the plot itself. Did it have a rising action that builds suspense? Was the climax a good payoff? What were your overall impressions of the movie? How did it make you feel? What do you think the purpose of the movie was and did the director succeed in their goal?
This is also the section where you get to talk about the different characters in the movie. Why did you enjoy certain characters? Were some characters better developed than others? Could some characters have benefited from more development? Was the villain particularly interesting?
Think about the overall mood of the movie, did it change over time? How did the tones and symbols of the movie emphasize elements of the plot? Remember that any point you make in this section has to be backed up by examples. So if you say that there are several plot holes that make the movie complicated to understand, mention the specific scenes.
There are a lot of technical and creative elements in a movie that can stand out even if the overall plot and story weren’t the best. On the other hand, even a great story can be spoiled by bad dialogue or set design. These are some of the creative elements you should pay attention to especially when rewatching the movie and taking notes.
Dialogue : This can refer to the overall writing of the movie as well. If you can get your hands on a script then read it! When thinking about dialogue ask yourself, did the conversation between characters seem natural and flow easily? Or did it seem choppy and unnatural?
Cinematography : Cinematography refers to the camera effects and the choices of how to film a certain scene. The lighting, the choice of camera angles, essentially the unique perspective of the story as told through the camera.
Editing : Editing refers to the transition between different scenes as well as how well the movie flows together. This could include things like clever montages, longshots, different perspectives, etc.
Costumes : Some movies, especially historical movies, fantasy films, and science fiction films, depend heavily on costume design. Costumes are an integral part of making a character stand out or making the world seem more real.
Set Design : Set design refers to the backgrounds of scenes. Some sets might be more elaborate whereas others can be minimalistic. Each choice has its pros and cons and effective set design creates proper ambiance, setting the tone and mood for a scene or the movie.
Music and Sound : Sometimes the movie has a great soundtrack or just incredible sound effects that help make it stand out.
Stunts : More important for action movies, but in general stunts and action sequences can be a major selling point for a film.
Special Effects : Most movies rely on some amount of special effects, and whether it be CGI, or practical, or a combination of the two, the quality is important.
Once you have analyzed multiple different elements of the story from its plot, characterization, and other technical and creative elements, you can state your opinions and provide evidence for them. Make sure you refer to specific scenes or specific situations when looking for substantiating evidence. Remember that the goal of a movie review is not to just state whether you liked or disliked a movie, it is to analyze it in an objective way, and give information so that somebody else can decide whether they want to watch the movie or not.
In the conclusion you express your main opinion of the movie along with the most important pieces of evidence. You can talk about the purpose of the movie and whether the director was successful in showing that purpose. End with a recommendation of whether the movie should be watched or not, along with suggestions of movies that are similar to it.
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Mistakes to avoid
You now know how to write a review on a movie but let's take a look at some mistakes that you should be careful to avoid.
Not focusing on the film
It's easy to start writing about things like the historical events the movie you loved is based on or the importance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe overall rather than focus on the movie itself. While those elements can be interesting to include as background information, the point of a film review is to go over a particular movie so that is what you should spend the most time on.
Not providing evidence
A common mistake people make when they write movie reviews is to state their opinions without any objective analysis. An easy way to overcome this mistake is to make sure that you provide evidence for any claims that you make.
Spoilers are an easy way to make sure that people will be upset with your movie review. It is common to accidentally give away too much, especially when writing the plot summary. Find the line between giving enough information so that people understand the general story and revealing important plot twists and turning points. Read some sample movie reviews for examples of how to avoid spoilers.
Using personal pronouns
Statements like “I did not like the special effects” or “I did not like the pacing of the movie” are clearly expressions of opinion. It is better to make statements like “the special effects in certain action scenes were cartoonish and took away from the realism of the film”.
A movie review essay can be incredibly fun to write, especially if you have a strong opinion about the movie. But keep in mind that a movie review isn't just about your opinion, it has to include an objective analysis with claims backed up by evidence from specific scenes. It's difficult to have a movie review definition, but a great movie review is a blend between personal opinion and objective analysis. It informs the reader about the strengths and weaknesses of the movie while letting them make the decision whether they want to watch it or not.
If you found your way to this article because you were looking for help on how to write a movie review for college, then you're in the perfect place. If you need any help, don't hesitate to reach out to the experts at Studyfy. At Studyfy, we offer a wide range of custom writing services, coursework writing services, and essay writer service . Our team of experienced writers is well-equipped to handle any writing task you may have, no matter the complexity or urgency. Just say, " write a paper for me ," and we will ensure that you receive a high-quality custom essay that meets all your requirements. Trust us to provide you with the best coursework writing services and custom essay writing that will help you achieve your academic goals.
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Film Writing: Sample Analysis
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Summary: A sample analysis of a filmic sequence that makes use of the terminology on the OWL’s Writing About Film page .
Written by Kylie Regan
The analysis below discusses the opening moments of the science fiction movie Ex Machina in order to make an argument about the film's underlying purpose. The text of the analysis is formatted normally. Editor's commentary, which will occasionally interrupt the piece to discuss the author's rhetorical strategies, is written in brackets in an italic font with a bold "Ed.:" identifier. See the examples below:
The text of the analysis looks like this.
[ Ed.: The editor's commentary looks like this. ]
Frustrated Communication in Ex Machina ’s Opening Sequence
Alex Garland’s 2015 science fiction film Ex Machina follows a young programmer’s attempts to determine whether or not an android possesses a consciousness complicated enough to pass as human. The film is celebrated for its thought-provoking depiction of the anxiety over whether a nonhuman entity could mimic or exceed human abilities, but analyzing the early sections of the film, before artificial intelligence is even introduced, reveals a compelling examination of humans’ inability to articulate their thoughts and feelings. In its opening sequence, Ex Machina establishes that it’s not only about the difficulty of creating a machine that can effectively talk to humans, but about human beings who struggle to find ways to communicate with each other in an increasingly digital world.
[ Ed.: The piece's opening introduces the film with a plot summary that doesn't give away too much and a brief summary of the critical conversation that has centered around the film. Then, however, it deviates from this conversation by suggesting that Ex Machina has things to say about humanity before non-human characters even appear. Off to a great start. ]
The film’s first establishing shots set the action in a busy modern office. A woman sits at a computer, absorbed in her screen. The camera looks at her through a glass wall, one of many in the shot. The reflections of passersby reflected in the glass and the workspace’s dim blue light make it difficult to determine how many rooms are depicted. The camera cuts to a few different young men typing on their phones, their bodies partially concealed both by people walking between them and the camera and by the stylized modern furniture that surrounds them. The fourth shot peeks over a computer monitor at a blonde man working with headphones in. A slight zoom toward his face suggests that this is an important character, and the cut to a point-of-view shot looking at his computer screen confirms this. We later learn that this is Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), a young programmer whose perspective the film follows.
The rest of the sequence cuts between shots from Caleb’s P.O.V. and reaction shots of his face, as he receives and processes the news that he has won first prize in a staff competition. Shocked, Caleb dives for his cellphone and texts several people the news. Several people immediately respond with congratulatory messages, and after a moment the woman from the opening shot runs in to give him a hug. At this point, the other people in the room look up, smile, and start clapping, while Caleb smiles disbelievingly—perhaps even anxiously—and the camera subtly zooms in a bit closer. Throughout the entire sequence, there is no sound other than ambient electronic music that gets slightly louder and more textured as the sequence progresses. A jump cut to an aerial view of a glacial landscape ends the sequence and indicates that Caleb is very quickly transported into a very unfamiliar setting, implying that he will have difficulty adjusting to this sudden change in circumstances.
[ Ed.: These paragraphs are mostly descriptive. They give readers the information they will need to understand the argument the piece is about to offer. While passages like this can risk becoming boring if they dwell on unimportant details, the author wisely limits herself to two paragraphs and maintains a driving pace through her prose style choices (like an almost exclusive reliance on active verbs). ]
Without any audible dialogue or traditional expository setup of the main characters, this opening sequence sets viewers up to make sense of Ex Machina ’s visual style and its exploration of the ways that technology can both enhance and limit human communication. The choice to make the dialogue inaudible suggests that in-person conversations have no significance. Human-to-human conversations are most productive in this sequence when they are mediated by technology. Caleb’s first response when he hears his good news is to text his friends rather than tell the people sitting around him, and he makes no move to take his headphones out when the in-person celebration finally breaks out. Everyone in the building is on their phones, looking at screens, or has headphones in, and the camera is looking at screens through Caleb’s viewpoint for at least half of the sequence.
Rather than simply muting the specific conversations that Caleb has with his coworkers, the ambient soundtrack replaces all the noise that a crowded building in the middle of a workday would ordinarily have. This silence sets the uneasy tone that characterizes the rest of the film, which is as much a horror-thriller as a piece of science fiction. Viewers get the sense that all the sounds that humans make as they walk around and talk to each other are being intentionally filtered out by some presence, replaced with a quiet electronic beat that marks the pacing of the sequence, slowly building to a faster tempo. Perhaps the sound of people is irrelevant: only the visual data matters here. Silence is frequently used in the rest of the film as a source of tension, with viewers acutely aware that it could be broken at any moment. Part of the horror of the research bunker, which will soon become the film’s primary setting, is its silence, particularly during sequences of Caleb sneaking into restricted areas and being startled by a sudden noise.
The visual style of this opening sequence reinforces the eeriness of the muted humans and electronic soundtrack. Prominent use of shallow focus to depict a workspace that is constructed out of glass doors and walls makes it difficult to discern how large the space really is. The viewer is thus spatially disoriented in each new setting. This layering of glass and mirrors, doubling some images and obscuring others, is used later in the film when Caleb meets the artificial being Ava (Alicia Vikander), who is not allowed to leave her glass-walled living quarters in the research bunker. The similarity of these spaces visually reinforces the film’s late revelation that Caleb has been manipulated by Nathan Bates (Oscar Isaac), the troubled genius who creates Ava.
[ Ed.: In these paragraphs, the author cites the information about the scene she's provided to make her argument. Because she's already teased the argument in the introduction and provided an account of her evidence, it doesn't strike us as unreasonable or far-fetched here. Instead, it appears that we've naturally arrived at the same incisive, fascinating points that she has. ]
A few other shots in the opening sequence more explicitly hint that Caleb is already under Nathan’s control before he ever arrives at the bunker. Shortly after the P.O.V shot of Caleb reading the email notification that he won the prize, we cut to a few other P.O.V. shots, this time from the perspective of cameras in Caleb’s phone and desktop computer. These cameras are not just looking at Caleb, but appear to be scanning him, as the screen flashes in different color lenses and small points appear around Caleb’s mouth, eyes, and nostrils, tracking the smallest expressions that cross his face. These small details indicate that Caleb is more a part of this digital space than he realizes, and also foreshadow the later revelation that Nathan is actively using data collected by computers and webcams to manipulate Caleb and others. The shots from the cameras’ perspectives also make use of a subtle fisheye lens, suggesting both the wide scope of Nathan’s surveillance capacities and the slightly distorted worldview that motivates this unethical activity.
[ Ed.: This paragraph uses additional details to reinforce the piece's main argument. While this move may not be as essential as the one in the preceding paragraphs, it does help create the impression that the author is noticing deliberate patterns in the film's cinematography, rather than picking out isolated coincidences to make her points. ]
Taken together, the details of Ex Machina ’s stylized opening sequence lay the groundwork for the film’s long exploration of the relationship between human communication and technology. The sequence, and the film, ultimately suggests that we need to develop and use new technologies thoughtfully, or else the thing that makes us most human—our ability to connect through language—might be destroyed by our innovations. All of the aural and visual cues in the opening sequence establish a world in which humans are utterly reliant on technology and yet totally unaware of the nefarious uses to which a brilliant but unethical person could put it.
Author's Note: Thanks to my literature students whose in-class contributions sharpened my thinking on this scene .
[ Ed.: The piece concludes by tying the main themes of the opening sequence to those of the entire film. In doing this, the conclusion makes an argument for the essay's own relevance: we need to pay attention to the essay's points so that we can achieve a rich understanding of the movie. The piece's final sentence makes a chilling final impression by alluding to the danger that might loom if we do not understand the movie. This is the only the place in the piece where the author explicitly references how badly we might be hurt by ignorance, and it's all the more powerful for this solitary quality. A pithy, charming note follows, acknowledging that the author's work was informed by others' input (as most good writing is). Beautifully done. ]
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How to write a movie review [Updated 2023]
Writing a movie review is a great way to practice critical analysis skills. In this post, we explore what a movie review is, how to start a film review, and steps for writing and revising it.
What is a movie review?
A movie review is a concise evaluation of a film’s content and formal elements (cinematography, sound, lighting, etc.). Also known as a film review, a movie review considers not just what a film means, but how it means. Essentially, when you write a film review, you are conducting a critical analysis or close reading of a movie.
How to write a movie review
To write a successful review about a movie, you need to evaluate a film’s content, as well as its form. In this section, we break down these two components.
A film’s content includes its plot (what it’s about), characters, and setting. You’ll need to determine the main plot points of the film and how the film’s story works overall.
Are there parts that don’t make sense? Are certain characters more important than others? What is the relationship between the movie’s plot and its setting? A discussion of a film’s content provides good context for an analysis of its form.
Form refers to all of the aesthetic and/or formal elements that make a story into a movie. You can break down form into several categories:
- Cinematography : This element comprises all aspects of the movie that derive from the way a camera moves and works. You’ll need to pay attention to elements like camera angles, distances between the camera and the subject, and types of shots (i.e. close-up, aerial, etc.).
- Lighting : Films use lighting in various ways to communicate certain effects. For instance, noir films tend to utilize chiaroscuro lighting (deep contrasts between light and dark) to express a sense of secrecy or foreboding.
- Sound : The way a film uses sound can vary considerably. Most movies have a soundtrack, sometimes with music composed specifically for the film. Some films play around with ambient sounds or use silence at key points to signify important moments. What is the relation of sound to the image in specific scenes or sequences? Do sounds link images? Does it ever become more important than the image?
- Editing : The movies we watch online or in theaters have been heavily edited in order to achieve a particular flow. When you are preparing to write a movie review, pay close attention to elements like the length of shots, transitions between scenes, or any other items that were finalized after filming.
- Costumes, Props, and Sets : Are the costumes and props believable in relation to the film’s content and setting? Are costumes particularly elaborate or understated?
The important thing to remember when you are analyzing the formal elements of a movie is that every image, sound, movement, and object has meaning and has been planned. Your review needs to take into consideration how these elements work together with the film’s storyline to create a whole experience.
Once you’ve considered both the content and form of the movie that you’re reviewing, you can begin to evaluate the film as a whole. Is it a successful movie? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?
Step-by-step review writing tips
1. watch the movie.
The first time that you watch the movie, look for overarching themes or patterns, and establish what the film is primarily about. Take note of the main characters, as well as the setting.
2. Watch the movie again and take notes
Next, watch the movie again and take notes as you are doing so, keeping in mind the formal aspects discussed above. Write down anything that seems significant.
3. Evaluate the film’s form and content
Using the categories described above, and any handouts or guides provided by your instructor, evaluate the film’s formal elements along with its content. Are there elements of the movie that strike you as unfamiliar or perplexing? Are there elements that are repeated to emphasize a point or perception?
4. Write your review
A good movie review will contain:
- an introductory paragraph that tells the reader what movie you’re reviewing
- a paragraph that summarizes the movie
- several body paragraphs that explore significant formal elements and how they relate to the content
- a concluding paragraph that discusses your overall reaction to the film and whether or not you would recommend it to others
5. Create citations
You’ll need cite the film and any secondary sources that you consulted while writing. Use BibGuru’s citation generator to instantly create accurate citations for movies, as well as articles, books, and websites.
You may also want to consult a guide on how to cite a film in MLA or another major citation style .
6. Revise and proofread
Once you’ve written your review, you should set aside some time to revise and proofread it before you turn it in.
Movie review checklist
You can use this checklist to ensure that you’ve considered all of the formal elements, as well as the content, of the film that you’re reviewing:
🔲 Cinematography (camera moves and types of shots)
🔲 Lighting (natural vs. artificial light, contrasts between light and dark)
🔲 Sound (soundtrack, sound vs. silence, loud vs. soft sounds)
🔲 Editing (length of shots, transitions between scenes)
🔲 Costumes, props, and sets (believable vs. staged)
🔲 Content (plot, characters, setting)
Frequently Asked Questions about how to write a review about a movie
A movie review should contain a brief summary of the film, several paragraphs of analysis that focus on form and content, and a concluding paragraph that sums up your reaction.
Before you write anything, you need to watch the film at least once. Take notes as you’re watching and pay attention to formal elements and patterns. Then, write your review. The final step is to revise your work before you turn it in.
The tone for a movie review should be critical, yet objective. The goal of most reviews is to persuade a reader to either see a film or not.
The best film reviews balance plot summary with critical analysis of significant formal elements. A reader should be able to decide if she wants to see the film after reading the review.
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