Writing a movie review is all about asking yourself questions.
Why are you writing a review? Maybe you are taking a class about film studies, or maybe you are taking a class about a subject portrayed in a particular film. When you ask “Why am I writing a movie review,” it's easy to find out the first step.
The first step is to make a list of all the criteria you'll use to review the film. The criteria are the questions you ask yourself about the film, such as, “Was the story interesting?” “Was the acting believable?” “Did the film express an important message or theme?”
The Lazy Way to Write a Movie Review: Get the Criteria by Using Another Person's Review as a Template
If you are lazy or if you don't have a lot of time, simply use Google or Bing to find some reviews other people wrote about the movie, and paste one of them into a word file to use as a template. Rewrite each paragraph substituting your own ideas, and you'll have a great review that covers several criteria. Use cut/paste to put all the paragraphs into a great sequence that makes sense, and then add an introduction paragraph to the top and a conclusion paragraph to the bottom.
Remember that your paper should express one main idea in the introduction paragraph, and then that idea is supported by the points you make in the body paragraphs. Easy!
The Smarter Way to Write a Movie Review: Get Criteria from Your Assignment Instructions
If you are taking a class about film studies, the criteria will include plot, acting, cinematography, the use of themes and symbols, and it is important to make sure you show that you understand the film and it's message. You should review the class syllabus to find out what concepts you are supposed to use as your criteria. If you are taking a class about some topic other than film studies, you will use different criteria:
- Maybe you are taking a class about feminism and need to review Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) by looking for ways it portrays gender stereotypes.
- Maybe you are taking a class about business and need to review Outsourced (2006) to look for examples of the emotions people feel when their jobs are shipped overseas.
- Maybe you are taking a class about abnormal psychology and you need to look for symptoms of autism in Rain Man (1988).
So, you need to ask the questions that your instructor wants you to ask. These questions should be in the assignment instructions. If someone is going to grade your work fairly, they should tell you the questions/criteria they will use. That is, if they expect you to answer specific questions in the paper, they should tell you what those questions are.
STEP ONE: Identify the criteria. Look at the assignment instructions and make a list of all criteria (questions you ask yourself about the movie) that should be used. For example, in a class about feminism you might have assignment instructions that include: Do the events in this film reinforce or challenge gender stereotypes?
STEP TWO: Write a sentence for each question/criterion. Answer each question (criterion) by writing a sentence. For example, "Star Wars reinforces gender stereotypes by portraying men saving women, such as Han Solo or Luke Skywalker saving the princess."
STEP THREE: Extend every sentence into a paragraph. Transform every sentence into a paragraph by adding more sentences to explain what you mean, and give examples or quotes. “The princess is courageous and determined, so viewers can see that she is as strong as the male heroes, but she still needs to be saved over and over by the males in the story. An example is seen in Return of the Jedi when Skywalker saves her from Jabba the Hut...
After you have answered each criterion/question with a sentence and extended the sentence into a paragraph, you'll have a paragraph for each criterion you are using to critique the film.
STEP FOUR: Add introduction and conclusion. Go back and read what you wrote. Add an introduction to the top of the page by typing a paragraph about what you just wrote. (i.e. introduce the discussion your reader is about to read). Add a conclusion to the bottom by reflecting on the points made in your paragraphs and adding some “extra” idea for the reader to consider.
That's it! You write a sentence for each criteria you are using to review the movie (because the way you cover the criteria from class will be used as the criteria for reviewing YOUR assignment), and then you extend each sentence into a paragraph by explaining what you mean and giving an example. Then, package those body paragraphs neatly between an introduction and a conclusion.You'll have a great movie review if you write a paragraph for each question/criterion you are expected to answer and if, in your introduction and conclusion, you express an interesting message or observation as the main idea of your review.