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What Is a Movie Review?
A movie review is an evaluation of 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.
How to Write a Movie Review
Here are some general guidelines for writing a movie review:
- Watch the entire film. It’s important to watch the whole movie before writing your review, so you have the necessary information to write a thorough, thoughtful piece. If possible, watch the film more than once, taking notes on different aspects, like acting, cinematography, music, theme, and narrative arcs. Upon repeat viewings, new information may come to your attention that influences your opinion, which you can share with your readers in your review.
- Start with a hook. Include a strong hook in the introductory paragraph of your review to retain your reader’s attention. This hook can focus on a unique angle that sets you apart from other reviewers, a controversial opinion, or a fact or insight about the film or the attached talent. Learn more about how to write a strong introductory paragraph.
- Include a general summary. When writing a film review, provide a brief plot summary to give the reader a general overview of the story and its main characters. Include the director’s name, the release date, the main actors’ names, and any other relevant logistical information about the film for your readers’ reference.
- Establish your opinion. Film reviewers should have enticing, well-informed opinions about the movies they tackle. 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.
- Evaluate the film. After establishing the facts and analyses, include an overall evaluation of the material in your review. Share whether you thought the movie successfully presented its intended theme and storyline and if you would recommend it to other viewers.
- Wrap it up. Include a conclusion that wraps up your central idea and ties together your film analysis in a constructive and cohesive manner. Some reviewers opt to give the movie a letter grade, passing grade, or percentage score at the end of the review.
5 Tips for Writing a Movie Review
Here are a few tips for aspiring movie reviewers:
- Take notes. As you watch the film, note any critical elements you want to discuss in your review. Write down factors that pique your interest, like performance, lighting choices, music placement, CGI, thematic arcs, and other elements you think the audience will find interesting.
- Go further than the storyline. When writing an in-depth movie review, you’ll need to discuss more than the premise and your general opinion of the project. Include character analyses and development, unpack the film’s themes, filmmaking style (cinematography), tone, sound design, story structure, special effects, acting, direction, and pacing.
- Try to avoid spoilers. If you’re writing a review for a publication, you’ll likely be required to forgo any material that may spoil the movie’s plot for the reader. If you have to mention any important plot twists and turns in your review, keep the language as vague as possible. Research past reviews of popular movies with significant plot twists, like Fight Club (1999) or Sixth Sense (1999), to see how reviewers addressed those films’ spoilers. If you’re writing an in-depth review aimed at readers who have already watched the movie, include a spoiler warning at the top of the review.
- Repeat viewings can be helpful. You may need to view the film more than once to address all of its elements in your review. Upon repeat viewings, pay attention to different aspects that you may have missed during your initial viewing. For example, when viewing the film for a second time, pay attention to the technical aspects (sound, camera work, etc.). Focus on performance, plot, and direction for the subsequent viewing.
- Edit. Before you publish or submit your review, edit it for clarity, flow, and grammatical errors. Read through the review to assess the clarity of your perspective and cut any redundant information to improve the piece’s flow. Next, check for spelling and grammatical errors, which can distract readers or make it challenging for them to understand your analysis.