Film/Movie Review

What is a movie review? How does one write a film or movie review?

A movie review evaluates a particular film that includes a summary of the movie and any relevant analysis and opinion. Filmgoers commonly use movie reviews to determine whether they should watch a specific release or better inform their personal opinion after an initial viewing. A movie review can be a complete, in-depth analysis or a simple blurb sharing a personal perspective about the film’s events. You can write, record, or film a movie review for blogs, news publications, entertainment podcasts, radio broadcasts, television, or streaming platforms.

Writing a movie review often requires multiple viewings of the film. Plan to watch the film two or even three times. During the first viewing, surrender yourself to the cinematic experience; in other words, get lost in the narrative and enjoy the film without worrying about the argument you will eventually cultivate. During your second viewing, try distancing yourself from the plot and instead focus on interesting elements of the film that you can highlight in the review. You may separate these elements into two broad categories: 1) formal techniques such as cinematography, editing, mise-en-scene, lighting, diegetic and non-diegetic sound, genre, or narratology, and 2) thematic content that resonates with issues such as history, race, gender, sexuality, class, or the environment.

What to include in a movie review?

In the opening of your review, provide some basic information about the film. You may include film’s name, year, director, screenwriter, and major actors. You should also give a clear, well-established opinion early on. Don't leave the reader guessing whether you like the movie or not. Let them know early on, so that you can spend the rest of the time "proving" your rating. 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.

After establishing the facts and analyses, include a brief plot summary to give the reader a general overview of the story and its main characters. Include only the essential details that are relevant to your analysis and opinion. Do not reveal the ending or any major twists.

Next, support your opinions with evidence from specific scenes. This is where taking notes during the movie really pays off. It’s hard to sway other people with your opinion if you can't give facts that support your argument. Use evidence from the film, like characterization or scene descriptions, to support and substantiate your claims of good filmmaking or plot holes. To round out your review, compare the film to others in the genre with similar themes or events. If the filmmaker primarily makes films from the same genre, draw comparisons between the movie you’re reviewing and their other works.

Finally, include an overall evaluation of the material in your review. Summarize your main points and restate your thesis. You may also offer some recommendations for potential viewers or discuss how the film affected you personally.

What to avoid in a movie review?

There are some common pitfalls that you should avoid when writing a movie review:

- Do not start with a compelling fact or opinion on the movie without introducing it first. You want to get the reader hooked immediately but also provide some context for your review.

- Do not give away too much of the plot or spoil any surprises. A good movie review should entertain, persuade and inform without revealing too much.

- Do not base your review solely on your personal taste or preference. A movie review should be objective and fair, even if you did not enjoy the film. Acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of the film and provide reasons for your opinion.

- Do not use vague or general statements that do not convey any specific information. For example, avoid saying things like "the movie was good" or "the acting was bad". Instead, use concrete examples and details to illustrate your points.

- Do not plagiarize or copy other reviewers' opinions or phrases. Write your own original review using your own words and voice.

Why students need help from tutors with movie review assignments?

Writing a movie review can be challenging for students unfamiliar with the genre conventions, formal techniques, thematic content, and critical analysis skills required for this type of assignment. Students may also struggle with finding reliable sources of information about the film they are reviewing or expressing their opinions clearly and persuasively.

Tutors can help students with movie review assignments by providing guidance and feedback throughout the writing process.

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