Writing Reviews

The World's Fastest Indian (Roger Donaldson, 2005)

A few tips for writing film reviews:

  • Watch the film. For fun the first time. More carefully the second time.
  • Think about your audience: if you are writing your review for your little brother it might be different than if you are writing it for the community newspaper.
  • Avoid spoilers: this doesn’t just mean the ending. While your reader will want to know what the story is about, they do not want to know the entire plot.
  • Rate the actors: did they do a good job? Do you think they were helped or hindered by the director or the script?
  • Always include specific examples.
  • Discuss the films technical strengths/weaknesses. Did anything stand out? 
  • Always write in the present tense.
  • Keep it relatively brief – no more than 300 – 600 words.
  • Would you recommend the film to others? Why? 

The basic structure of a film review:

A film review is usually written in four parts:

Firstly the introduction – this will state the name of the film and its director, lead actors, and the genre of the film (is it a romance, horror etc). Then you should suggest your overall impression of the film, your thesis (which means argument).

Then the summary – this is a brief overview of what the film is about.

Next comes "Proof of Thesis" and here you have to explain what you have already stated in the introduction – your overall impression. You need to give very specific examples, you can’t just say "it was rotten" and leave it at that or no-one will give any weight to your argument.

In your conclusion you need to clarify your opinion of the film. You might also add something about it’s place in cinematic history – whether it might become a classic, or go straight to DVD release for example.

Useful links:

www.studyit.org.nz/subjects/english/english3/4/subjectcontent/reviewwriting.html

www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Movie-Review

www.ezinearticles.com/?Guidelines-For-Writing-Movie-Reviews

www.spiritofbaraka.com/how-to-write-a-movie-review.aspx

www.teenink.com/reviews/movie_reviews/

www.kidspickflicks.com/

Below are some downloadable reviews and close reading exercises. Also downloadable are review writing templates.

Review Template for younger students.

Review Template for older students.

Close Reading Review Exercise: The Hobbit.

Close Reading Review Exercise: The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell.

Close Reading Review Exercise: Love Birds.

Close Reading Review Exercise: Mr Pip.

Close Reading Review Exercise: This Way of Life.