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What is a movie review and how to write it?

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Collection of books used for writing a movie review

When preparing a movie review, you have to be able to synthesize huge volumes of information and present a summary in the form of a well-written story, not just a recapitulation of events. Such custom paper writing tasks also help evaluate people's academic writing skills in general, for example, an ability to avoid all kinds of mistakes in a text and follow all formatting requirements, choose the correct word, etc.

You may wonder what movie review definition is. Well, it is literally a critical assessment of a film. Here, you appraise the plot, the cast, features of the genre, etc. Let us tell you a little more about writing this type of paper and provide you with some useful tips that will help you get an A+!

What to consider before writing?

First of all, film reviews are not as easy as they seem since it’s important to watch a specific picture and pay close attention to every detail. Then it’s time to form your opinion, conduct a proper analysis, and prepare a summary.

It would also be useful to get acquainted with other opinions on the movie. You can read some professional critiques and also visit the review websites such as IMBD or Yahoo! Movies. Other people might have noticed something that you did not and it might completely change what you think about the picture.

How to write movie reviews?

In order to help you with your assignment a bit, our team has prepared a few useful movie review tips:

  • Try watching the film several times because it is not so easy to remember all the details after the first time.
  • Consider the time the movie was made. You may also read about that period in cinematography in order to get a deeper understanding of movie background. It is also a good idea to read the director’s biography and find out about the main milestones in his or her career as well as artistic style.
  • Express your opinion on the film, and if there is something you were disappointed with, support your criticism of the part in the paper.
  • Avoid spoilers. Have you ever come across the spoilers that ruined your expectations and general impression from the movie? You should not reveal all the details of the plot unless you are specifically asked to.
  • Analyze the character’s actions and define whether the story is logical or not. Taking notes while watching will help you to remember all important details.
  • Give a clear opinion on the overall impression. The reader shouldn’t guess whether you enjoyed the picture or not. Let the audience know how you would rate it and why.
  • Use as many examples as possible to explain the points you make. You are welcome to describe the scenes, the acting, and the dialogues. This will help you to express your opinion about the picture in a clearer way.
  • Pay attention to the genre of the picture. Figure out what the audience expects from it initially, and whether the expectations are met eventually. Here, you will need to demonstrate the clichés of the genre or their absence.

Tips from experts

Meet our advisors

A critical review/appraisal is the review of someone’s work. It could be text, film, or art.

There are a few things you need to cover:

  • Thesis statement – upon reviewing the text, film, or art materials, decide on your position. State your position in 2-3 sentences.
  • Support – find sources to support your position and justify your statement. Don’t be “obvious” (i.e., I like this text) – state facts about your position.
  • Argument – Line up your sources in a logic persuasive manner. Take a stand. Prove your point. Use quotes. Stay on track – be focused.
  • Defense of your thesis statement. Be thorough with your sources. Don’t let anyone challenge your position. Be confident.

Bottom line: Don’t make an argument you can not defend.

Penny J. Larsen

College professor with 30 years of teaching experience

How to start movie review?

Some initial steps of writing a movie review:

  • Watch the movie. Pay due attention to the important details as well the plot.
  • Jot down some notes and ideas. It will be especially useful if you decide to write the review some other day.
  • Create an outline. With the help of a well-organized plan, you won’t forget to mention all the important points.
  • Think about the story as a whole. Consider its historical and social background.
  • Reflect on movie characters. Who are the protagonists and antagonists? What role did the supportive characters have?
  • Formulate your opinion on the movie. You need to explain whether you liked or disliked the movie. It is also important to mention the aspects you liked the most and explain what role had in the movie under consideration.
  • Congratulations! You are now ready to start writing.

Movie review outline

Once you have done everything we have described above, it is time to create an outline. It will help you to keep track of your thoughts and understand what to write in each paragraph. Here is an example you can use:

  • Introduction
    • A hook phrase about the movie
    • Thesis statement
    • Supporting sentence
  • Body paragraphs
    • Summary of the plot
    • Analysis
    • Strong points of the movie
    • Weak points of the movie
  • Conclusion
    • Final thoughts on the movie
    • Restated thesis statement
    • Some sentences that call for further reflection

How to end movie review?

  • End your paper by generalizing your main impression of the movie. What details did you like the most? What were the worst parts and how did they influence your opinion?
  • Then you have to restate your thesis and show how you elaborated on it. Do not forget that you cannot just copy your thesis from the introductory part. Otherwise, your paper would look unprofessional.
  • It is also a good idea to state whether you recommend this film or not. Do not forget to specify your opinion and the reasons behind it. Perhaps, your review will inspire somebody to watch this film or, vice versa, forget about ever watching it.

What about movie review format?

The choice of format for a movie review is the same as for the regular essay. If you are a school student, you will likely stick to MLA format for movie review. If you are a university student, you might consider using APA or even Harvard.

APA format for movie review is usually a preferred format for most students as it is quite simple. Therefore, if you have a choice, we recommend that you stick to APA – there will be plenty of online guides to help you. Finally, very rarely, you may be assigned to use Harvard format for your movie review. In this case, it is better to ask your professor for formatting guidelines as each university has their own Harvard style preferences.

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