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 succinct 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 of a movie.

How to write a review about a movie

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.

Content

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

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about how to write a review about a movie

⛲️ What should be in a review?

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.

🏓 What are the steps to writing a movie review?

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.

🍔 How do you format a film 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
🦔 What is the tone of a movie review?

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.

💙 What makes a good film review?

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.

About

Make your life easier with our productivity and writing resources.

For students and teachers.

 

Follow us