Movies are often associated with multi-million blockbusters, emotionally charged dramas to revolutionary Indies, but at the end of the day movies are a form of art. Like most works of art, movies are highly subjective. Their meaning or what they can draw out can vary greatly from viewer to viewer. So, it is understandable to see how difficult writing a movie review can be. The writer of such a review must be able to strike a delicate balance in providing readers with factual information about the movie, while also giving their personal take on it as well.
Interestingly enough, one does not necessarily require possessing knowledge of movie theory and movie history to write a cogent review.
Having such knowledge may enhance the review, but is not necessary to generate one. Like almost any type of writing piece there are certain steps that should be done before a single letter is written or typed.
In literary papers this may involve researching publications and articles, while scientific papers may need an experiment or study to be conducted first. In movie reviews, the very first step is to watch the movie whether in a theater, at home or wherever it is a movie can be enjoyed with some modicum of peace.
Believe it or not, there are right ways and wrong ways of watching a movie with a review in mind. It may be weird to hear this, but exercising a bit of humility is required when watching a movie. Leave any prejudices behind and just let the filmmaker tell their story through the movie. It may end up being an absolute bore or an absolute joy, but that should be decided by the movie and not your judgment before the play button was even pressed. Also, resist the urge to jump to conclusions when it comes to the filmmaker. It is easy to think that you get the gist of the movie after a couple of scenes or acts, and with that small bit of information you have completely unraveled the enigmatic psyche of the filmmaker. While some filmmakers create movies that closely reflect their beliefs or viewpoints, most do not and it would detrimental to your movie review to believe that you possess the ability to summarize another individual’s belief structure based on a single work of art. In short, give the movie a chance, and give the filmmaker a chance to tell their story. Give it the opportunity to show you what it’s all about, and once it is complete, and after a bit of reflection can you make a an educated and well thought out review on it.
Remember that you are writing this review to inform others of your thoughts on the movie.
However, it may be a good idea to give the movie some context. Quickly identify the filmmaker, the director or producer. Give a very brief summary of their body of work and let the reader know if there are any running themes throughout their movies. This part of the review basically hints at what a viewer can expect from the movie and gives them points of reference. If for some reason it is difficult to give a list of notable or reputable individuals associated in the films production then you can begin the review by talking about the films genre. Be as accurate as possible in stating the genre, because once again you are basically setting expectations for the reader/viewer.
Then it is time to turn the lens upon you. Discuss your personal connection to the film. What interested you into seeing and writing an original review for a movie? What are your personal observations and what conclusions did you reach? To bring some color to this section it may be worth stating your prejudices and then talking about how the movie either confirmed or contrasted them. The analysis of these observations may lead you to some interesting conclusions.
The following sections of the movie review should be dedicated to the “meat and potatoes” of the movie. State the plot, the themes, use of metaphors, symbology, and other such storytelling devices throughout the film. Describe their significance and their role in developing the movie. Also take this opportunity to create a conversation regarding the dramatic question of the whole piece. What was it trying to accomplish? Suspense? Entertainment? Educate? There are numerous motives, emotions and goals to choose from, and each has its own colorful end.
Finally, just like a literary essay or scientific paper a conclusion resides at the end of a movie review. This section is usually reserved not only the finale of the film but allows the review writer to recap their findings and determine if the genres, themes, tropes, etc. that they mentioned at the beginning of the review was justified or not.