Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Write a Movie Review

Writing a movie review can be difficult, as there is a lot of information to process and reflect on. When writing a review, it's important to be informative and interesting, captivating your readers. In this article, you'll learn how to collect information, critique thoughtfully, and craft a thorough, intriguing, and exciting review.

1. Before watching, get a notepad to take notes. Movies are long, and you can easily forget details or even big aspects of the movie. Taking notes really helps, because it allows you to jot down things you notice that you can later come back to in your review. This does not mean that you should be putting all of your attention toward taking notes. You should just take a brief, quick note every time you notice something that you particularly liked or disliked about the movie. (Examples: bad background music, poor make-up of an actor, bad lighting, etc.)

2. Watch the movie, paying attention to details. As you watch, pay attention to the aspects listed below. If you don't know something, don't worry about it. You can easily come back to it later and provide more information. However, while watching try to jot down at least one or two comments about all of the below. (Note: Some of these are open to critique, and some are facts about the movie, such as the name of the film.)

  • Name of the Film 
  • Prominent Actors 
  • Genre of Film (comedy, adventure, drama, horror, etc.) 
  • Setting. Where the movie takes place, the year, and any other information of that sort. 
  • An Overview of the Plot.
  • If you've seen other movies by this same director, consider similarities/differences. 
  • Direction. Consider the director and how they choose to portray/explain the events in the story. Think about the way they presented the movie to the audience. If the movie was slow, or didn't include things you thought were necessary, credit this to the director. 
  • Editing. Was the movie choppy? Also, consider special effects (if the movie had any).
  • Costume design. Did the clothing choice fit the style of the movie? 
  • Set design. Did the background look realistic? If the movie was filmed in a real place, was this place well-chosen? 
  • Background Music. Did it fit the scenes? Was it over/under-used? Was it nice to listen to, or annoying? 

3. Come back to this after finishing the movie. If you just scribbled down quick, incomplete notes on some of these aspects, write more. It can be hard to write while watching a movie, so come back and elaborate on anything you noticed. If you remember any more details, write them down.

4. Begin writing your review. Now that you have a good outline and have all your important information, it's time to begin the actual writing process. It's a good idea to type this, as that is most likely the format you'll need when turning in the review. Keep your writing clear and easy to understand. Keep in mind that the person who reads this might not have seen the movie, so if you expect them to know who a certain character is and they don't, they likely will not appreciate your review. It's good to be very explanatory when writing a review, and careful to keep things simple.

5. Start with the general information. This should include the film's title, prominent actors, the director, the genre, the setting, and summary. Don't just list everything flat out - find a way to spread out the information in an interesting and informative way. You don't necessarily need to list everything in that order, either.

6. Critique the movie. Now that you've explained the general events, the reader has an idea of the movie and it's general theme. You can now begin to add your critique.

  • It's a good idea when critiquing to present both information, and your opinion. For example, you might state something such as, "the music, which was all classical, mixed well with the eighteenth century setting." This gives your reader a good sense of both "what" and "how" (in the sense of how good or bad something was). This is a lot better and more informative then simply saying, "the music worked well with the movie." 
  • Explain the reasons for all of your critique, and provide examples. For example, if you didn't like a certain actor, explain what about them you didn't like, and give examples of their bad acting. This "proof" helps your reader understand your viewpoint. 

7. End the review with something memorable. You want the last sentence to give your reader a good idea of your general viewpoint about the movie. This is a good place to explain whether in general you liked the movie, or not. (For example: " 'The movie' was intriguing and exciting, despite a few less than stellar actors.")

8. Read through your review. Make sure your writing is clear, complete, interesting, and is written in a general viewpoint. Make sure that there are no factual errors, and check for any spelling or grammar mistakes. These may seem minor and unimportant, but they actually are very important to your reader, as they may not trust your review if they see you've misspelled a lot of words, or contradict yourself.


  • 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'll like, and 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.
  • Read a lot of movie reviews, and think about what makes some of them more helpful than others. Again, the value of a review is not always in its accuracy (how much the reader agrees with the reviewer) but in usefulness (how well the reviewer can predict whether the reader will enjoy the movie). 

If you don't like the movie, don't be abusive and mean. If possible, avoid watching the movies that you would surely hate.

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