How To Write a Film Review

Become a Movie Critic with These Tips

Man using a laptop

Whether you're interested in writing movie reviews for profit or just for fun, it's not too tough. Just follow a few steps to make your feelings on the latest flicks known. 

  • After you have selected your movie, get familiar with its context. By this I mean, before you even see the movie, get to know a little about it. What have the actors and director worked on before? Perhaps check out some of their past work. Are they Oscar winners? Are they known for a certain style? Is the film based on a book or a historical event? Is it a remake or a sequel? All of this information will help you understand the movie better. You'll pick up on details, allusions, trademarks of the actor or director, and probably have more insight into important story elements. You'll be able to tell readers how it lived up to the original, say, or the book. These will keep your comments directed toward movie fans.
  • After you see the movie, formulate a specific opinion in one sentence. Your job is to give an opinion of the movie. Ultimately, this may come down to a "thumbs up" or "three stars out of five." But you want to have a specific thesis to drive your critique. For example, "I didn't like this comedy" becomes "The story had funny moments but it went on too long." "This horror movie is good" becomes "This horror movie works because it builds suspense right up until the end." So, try to find that very specific opinion that will be the foundation of your film review.
    how to write a film review
  • Create a good lead. There are basic tips that apply to most forms of writing. One of those tips is to grab your reader immediately. You want your reader to be interested in what you have to say. Intrigue your reader in that first or "lead" paragraph in one of several ways: Start with a great quote from the movie, and explain how it reflects the plot; refer to the reputation of the actor or director and compare it to how he or she performed; compare this movie to another well-known film in a few sentences or two; or explain what your expectation was, and if it was fulfilled or not. Then, end that first paragraph by writing your opinion statement.
  • Recap briefly, but don't give away anything big. If you've read professional movie reviews, you know they always include a little bit of recap. Some readers like to know what they're getting into before they lay down their money for a ticket. You can tell people the basic premise of the movie. In fact, you should write the basic premise, and tell them how the story builds, but don't give away key moments - especially not the ending! Keep your synopsis brief.
  • Back up your main opinion with specifics. The readers now know you think, "This comedy had funny moments but went on too long." It's time for you to prove it. Write about how the teen actors had good timing, as they did in another film. Write about how the writers did a great parody of a famous book. But then add that there were too many scenes involving the family or the boyfriend. Talk about the fact that there were multiple endings and all of them were long. Use specifics to make your readers understand your point of view.
  • Be interesting. Just because this is a movie review doesn't mean it has to be dull. From lead to ending paragraph, make the review engaging, using metaphors, analogy, specific adjectives and adverbs to create the images you want in the minds of your readers. But also be concise. A review isn't a place for long diatribes or flowery prose.
  • Be honest in your appraisal. Your reader and the work you're critiquing both deserve an honest opinion, right? So even if you HATE that actor or LOVE that actress, when writing a movie review be sure not to hold back your true opinion of the film. Have some standards in mind. A comedy should be funny, a horror movie should be scary, etc.; judge the movie against those standards, not against any pre-existing opinions you may have. It will make the review more valuable to the reader, and honest writing is always best, isn't it?

Good luck getting your movie critic career started - and enjoy the show!


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: