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How to write a good film review: 10 key features

Nov 04, 2022

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We’ve all heard the old cliché of I couldn’t put that book down! or the film or movie was so suspenseful that I thought I would have probably peed my pants! However, have you ever heard an individual say that he or she could not put a movie down? or That movie was so suspenseful I thought I might pee my pants? Probably not. Movie reviews are effective and appealing to us due to the fact that they describe or portray a notion of something that we already know or we are familiar with.

A film review ought to be more than just a list of good and bad things about the movie. It should provide the readers with an idea of whether they’ll enjoy the film based on its subject matter, audience, etc., in order for the audience or readers to decide whether it’s worth seeing at the theater, renting or buying on DVD or Blu-Ray, or simply avoiding altogether. A good movie review should meet a particular list of criteria. This article tends to provide insight into some of the features to factor in while undertaking movie review writing. Here are 10 key features that every reviewer should include in his or her work.

1) Read the movie synopsis before watching the film

A vital element for any movie review is a synopsis as it convinces a reader in a short time why to you ought to read your opinion on the review. So, what is a synopsis? A synopsis is described as a brief or short summary of a document that provides the readers with a basic overview of the main points(University, 2022).

It is recommended that you spend at least two minutes reading the synopsis before watching the movie and then note down any thoughts or questions you have regarding the movie. This assists you to come up with an angle for your review or create some article content for an existing site. Additionally, it ensures that you're prepared for what happens in the film and don't miss anything important when writing your review.

2) Understand the genre of the film

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When writing a movie review it is vital to understand the genre of the film. This will assist you to identify what you will be reviewing in addition to providing a context for your critique. An example that we can use is if you are critiquing an action thriller. You should mention that it's an action thriller and talk about how well-executed the stunts were in case there were any or if there was too much gunfire for your taste, etc. Subsequently, you ought to mention the genre of any other movies that share similarities with the movie you are reviewing.

3) Consider the technical aspects of the film

The technical aspects of a movie can include cinematography, sound design, and editing. The above three aspects have the potential to elevate a film and make it truly extraordinary. A good example of a movie that accomplishes this is Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Dunkirk portrays a story regarding 400,000 British soldiers that were stranded on the beaches of France in 1940. They were later surrounded by German forces as they were waiting to be rescued(NAUGHTON, 2022).

4) Note down your initial thoughts after watching the film

I recently watched a movie named The Shape of Water which was quite interesting due to the professional incorporation of quality visuals and performances. The movie is set during the 1960s and is based on Elisa a mute lady who works at a lab as a cleaner and gets to communicate through sign language(O'Malley, 2017).

One day, Elisa finds out that one of the animals being tested on has died, so she takes it home with her to dissect it herself. In her apartment complex lives Giles, who works as a spy for British Intelligence. He learns about Elisa's secret and blackmails her into providing information on what's happening at the lab for him by threatening to turn her in for breaking protocol if he hears more about this from any other source.

5) Develop your opinion about the film

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Another movie that I could use to expound on this point is 'A Quiet Place'. This is a movie about monsters that hunt by sound, and my personal opinion is that the movie is incredibly suspenseful. The movie starts with the family living in silence because they are trying to hide from these monsters. There is so much suspense and tension because anything could happen at any time and even the movie title inflicts even more suspense on the audience. I liked how the family would use sign language when they needed to communicate because of their fear of using noise. The ending was really good too; it wasn't what I expected, but it left me with lots of thought-provoking questions about how I would survive if I were in that situation(Jones, 2021).

Some of the questions that you could factor in developing your opinion include; What's the film about and background information? What genre is it (horror, comedy)? How long did you watch it? What are the movie’s plot elements?

6) Write a draft of your movie review

It is important to remember that film reviews are an opportunity for professional critics and audiences alike to share their opinions on films. These movie reviews tend to assist other viewers to be able to decide on what movies they should watch. The key features (writing style) of a quality movie review include an introduction, body, conclusion, spoilers, rating system, and additional information.

In order to create an effective professional movie review, your writing process should start with an introductory paragraph that includes the plot summary of the film along with any context you feel is necessary. From there you will want to develop your argument about the film's quality or value with supporting evidence from other sources or personal experience. You can also include spoilers at this point in order for readers who have not seen the movie yet know exactly what they're getting themselves into.

7) Edit your review for clarity and conciseness

A quality movie review is more than just summarizing the plot. It's about discussing the various aspects of the movie in detail and judging whether or not it's worth having a watch.

-First, as you start to write a movie review, you ought to introduce the movie with an interesting summary that captures your audience's attention.

-Second, jot down a paragraph summarizing the movie. This paragraph should include any major themes or characters that may be important later on in the movie. Additionally, you can briefly mention what makes this film different from other movies in its genre and why people will want to watch it. -Lastly, you ought to talk about how well-executed everything was--the cinematography, music, acting, creative elements, etc--and if they were executed well enough for you to enjoy watching them.

8) Ensure that your review is balanced

A great movie review is not just one person's opinion. The main movie review purpose should be to provide a well-rounded critique and contain a different perspective.  There are certain features that every movie review needs to have. It is important for professional reviewers to give an honest critique of the movie, meaning that it should highlight both the pros and cons.

9) Use quotes from the film to support your points

  1. You should have at least one paragraph summarizing the plot of the film.

  2. If you are reviewing a comedy, you need to compare it with other comedies in the same genre (e.g., compare it with films like The Hangover).

  3. If you are reviewing an action movie, you might mention some of the key scenes and try and rank them on how well they were executed (e.g., best fight scene, the lead actors).

  4. One paragraph on your opinion of the film as a whole and whether or not you would recommend that people go see it in theaters (or buy/rent it on DVD)

  5. You should mention any strengths and weaknesses of the film

  6. Compare and contrast this movie with others in its genre

10) Check for grammar mistakes and spelling errors

Before submitting or publishing your final draft of a film review, these useful tips will come in handy:

  1. The opening paragraph should be engaging and hook the reader. It should give them the basic gist of what the film is about, who it's for and why they should care.

  2. The middle section of the movie review should give more detail on what the reader can expect in terms of themes, style, and tone.

  3. The ending paragraph should sum up your feelings about the film.


Jones, A. (2021). REVIEW: A QUIET PLACE. GrimdarkMAGAZINE.

NAUGHTON, S. (2022). How ‘Dunkirk’ Represents the Best of Christopher Nolan. Collider.

O'Malley, S. (2017). The Shape of Water.

University, N. (2022). Writing a Synopsis. Academic Skills Kit.,or%20other%20form%20of%20presentation.

Related Article: How to Write a persuasive case study | 3 Easy Steps


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