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How to Write a Film Review

Published: 09.08.2012, Updated: 04.03.2017
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What should a film review tell you and what should it not tell you?

Preparing a Review

Here are some suggestions on how to write a film review. You will find information about the different elements to consider when reviewing or analysing a film here.

Watching the film
Take notes while you watch the movie. Concentrate on specific things that you like, e.g. the acting and dislike, e.g. the music.

Give examples, such as:

In this or that climatic scene the actress playing the antagonist was so convincing that she sent shivers down my spine.
or
The music was completely inappropriate – who would even imagine accompanying a scene where a mother reunites with her long lost child by thrash metal?

Writing a Review

  1. Introduction
    This should include:
    • a hook, in order to capture the reader’s or listener's attention, e.g. a representative quote, a compelling scene, a strong opinion, an anecdote.
    • basic information about the movie you are about to review: title; cast; relevant production details (which year it came out, director/author/producer); is the story an original work of fiction; is it based upon real events or does it come from a book; etc.
    • a short analysis of the story, for instance through its main components, such as theme(s), setting, main characters, short plot description (without giving away how the story ends). Keep it short, however, - approximately 20% of the length of your entire text ought to suffice.
  2. Main body
    Here you should express your opinions. Is it a good story? Is it well told?
    • Be careful not to talk exclusively about your feelings, for example, “I found this movie to be boring/touching/delightfully shocking.” Even though your emotional response is not without interest, you are, first and foremost, supposed to exercise your judgement. Take sides as objectively as possible, i.e. on the basis of the elements available to you, namely things you noticed while watching the movie.
    • What exactly was good or bad about the movie, and why?
      • the actors
      • setting and scenery
      • the way the story was structured
      • how the dialogues were written
      • what the movie had to say about its main theme(s), etc.
    • In short, you should show interest in the actual movie that you have watched, what you liked and disliked, instead of just talking about yourself (the feeling you had of liking or disliking). This is where the notes you took while watching the movie might come in handy.

      For instance, you should say something along the lines of:

      One thing that nearly ruined this story, for me, was that I could not help thinking that it was badly structured. It reaches its climax only halfway through, which makes it easy to lose interest in the second half of the movie. Indeed, the real issue in this movie isn’t the way the two boys build their tree-hut together – nail by nail, like in an instructional video – but how they are able, by reaching a real understanding of each other, to overcome their differences and become friends.


      rather than saying:

      This movie bored the living daylights out of me – especially the second half. Even though the first part was sort of interesting, what was to follow nearly took away my will to live.

  3. Conclusion
    Would you recommend this movie to someone else? To whom? It may be useful to recapitulate, succinctly, the most important points of your main body, in order to justify your recommendations.
    Example:

    I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes to watch cute actors, as long as they have a high tolerance for unoriginal plots, badly written dialogue and racist undercurrents.

You can search for examples of film reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.

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