How To Write A Movie Review?

Comprehensive Guide How to Write a Movie Review

So, you've been asked to write a movie review. How do you approach this assignment? Writing a movie review is a common task students of different academic levels get. You may face this task both in high school and when you are already in college.

In a nutshell, when unsure how to write a movie review, your main task is to reflect your opinions of the piece and evaluate it according to certain criteria. You are expected to define, analyze, and assess the core elements and significant details. These may be twists in the plot, characters, the central message, etc.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Wrong guess! Although it may seem like a generally simple task, writing a movie critique goes much deeper than simply recounting the events you see on the screen and formulating your opinion.

It takes time, attention to detail, and solid organization to get things right. But do not get desperate just yet! If you are interested in writing a real analysis essay, you've come to the right place!

In this article, ourservice expert writers will guide you through the process of writing a top-notch piece worthy of the highest grade.

The Purpose of a Movie Review

In writing any type of academic assignment, it is vital to keep the task's purpose in mind in order to get a high grade. Thus, before we go on and discuss in detail how to review a movie, let's clarify the core purpose of this assignment.

In a nutshell, the main purpose of this task is to inform the audience about a particular movie and its core ideas. At the same time, this task leaves you space to express your own opinion about the piece you are writing about.

However, the key thing is not to get too much into discussing your own thoughts. One should also retain an objective and unbiased approach. If you can combine them all, you'll write a great review!

While working on your review, keep in mind that you are supposed to introduce a particular film to your readers. Always assume they haven't heard of it or seen it before. Such an approach will make it much easier to discuss and analyze the events taking place in the movie. You should also conduct character analysis and reflect on the core ideas.

The last thing worth keeping in mind is that the ultimate goal of your review is to help readers make an objective decision on whether they want to see a particular movie or whether they'd like it.

The main reason why teachers and professors assign students this type of writing task is to assess their critical thinking skills. Lecturers want to see your ability to analyze a plot and characters, define main ideas, report events, and give an objective assessment of the piece based on all these characteristics. At the same time, they want to see whether you can cope with all these subtasks in a logical, easy-to-understand, cohesive, and engaging manner.

Movie Review Format

The format of your movie review may vary depending on your lecturer's specific demands. Thus, it is vital that you check the provided requirements and guidelines prior to writing.

Typically, this type of paper is fairly short - about 600 to 1200 words. The structure of a standard movie report consists of an introduction, a summary in question, an analysis, and a conclusion.

When wondering how to write a movie title in an essay, it is important to use proper formatting to ensure clarity and adherence to academic standards. Typically, movie titles should be italicized or placed in quotation marks. For example, 'The Shawshank Redemption' or The Shawshank Redemption.

As for the contents of your piece, it should provide a general summary of the narrative part (the plot.) Then, you should highlight the specific elements that can be divided into two categories:

  • Formal techniques - cinematography, genre, editing, diegetic and non-diegetic sound, lighting, mise-en-scene, etc.
  • Thematic content - the content that resonates with common issues like gender, history, environment, race, etc.

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Main Aspects to Consider in Your Movie Review Essay

To start a movie review paper, you should watch the piece as many times as possible and take notes of all your impressions. You can even collect verdicts from fellow students or friends to have opinions from more than one source. Additionally, you will have to take notes on various significant elements and background details.

Here are some of the main questions to help you write the critique faster and not miss out on the important details:

  • Where is the film set? - Knowing this will give the reader a clear picture and visual imagery of the piece and save you time, as you will not have to describe it later.
  • Is it a sequel, and what are the origins of the movie? - Such knowledge will benefit the readers if they are not yet familiar with the series? This will help them gain a better understanding of the piece.
  • Does the movie fall into any genre? - Establishing this will help you compare it to other movies later on.
  • Is it created by a famous director? - This will give out more background information that you can use to make comparisons in the review.
  • Do you know any interesting or significant facts about it? - This can help you generate further interest in the readers and also give you extra points to cover in a review.
  • Is the plot riveting? Are there any major twists? - Describing the most gripping elements without spoiling the piece for the reader will help you get the highest grade.
  • Are the characters well-developed or believable? - If you can present a thorough analysis of the main characters or actors, this will make your review more engaging.
  • Who is the target audience, and who does the movie appeal to? - This will help you analyze the piece better and also gain more understanding of who will appreciate a certain movie.

Movie Review Example

After mastering the art of reviewing and picking up valuable tips for tackling this assignment, the next step is to explore a few movie review examples to steer you in the right direction.

"The Shape of Water"

Introduction: Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water" is a visually enchanting and emotionally resonant masterpiece that seamlessly blends fantasy and reality. Released in 2017, this film offers a captivating narrative, stunning visuals, and exceptional performances that leave an indelible mark on the viewer.

Plot dynamics: Set against the backdrop of the Cold War era in the early 1960s, the film follows Elisa Esposito, portrayed by Sally Hawkins, a mute and isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a high-security government laboratory. When she discovers an amphibious creature (Doug Jones) being held captive for experimentation, a unique and heartfelt connection forms between them.

Cinematographic techniques: Del Toro's masterful use of color and composition creates a visual feast for the audience. The underwater sequences, in particular, are a testament to the film's technical brilliance. Cinematographer Dan Laustsen brings the aquatic world to life with a mesmerizing palette, enhancing the film's dreamlike quality.

Character development: Sally Hawkins delivers a breathtaking performance as Elisa, conveying a depth of emotion without uttering a single word. The character development is nuanced, with each member of the ensemble cast, including Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon, contributing to the richness of the narrative.

Thematic depth: "The Shape of Water" explores themes of love, acceptance, and the triumph of the human spirit. The film cleverly uses the supernatural element to comment on societal norms and the power dynamics of the time, creating a narrative that is both relevant and timeless.

Directorial style: Guillermo del Toro's directorial style shines through in every frame. His penchant for fairy-tale storytelling is evident, blending romance, suspense, and elements of the supernatural seamlessly. The attention to detail in the set design and the use of practical effects contribute to the film's immersive and otherworldly atmosphere.

Conclusion: In conclusion, "The Shape of Water" is a cinematic gem that transcends genres. Guillermo del Toro has crafted a film that is as emotionally powerful as it is visually stunning. With a compelling narrative, exceptional performances, and a distinct directorial vision, "The Shape of Water" stands out as a testament to the artistry of storytelling in cinema. This is not merely a film; it's a lyrical and transformative experience that lingers in the imagination long after the credits roll.

Movie Review Outline

As was already mentioned, a typical movie review structure consists of five elements. Now, let's look at each section of this paper in detail.


The introduction is the first thing your readers will go through. Thus, it is important to make it as catchy as possible to engage your audience from the very first lines.

In the first section of your movie review essay outline, provide some general information about the movie you are going to review. Make sure you mention the title, director, year, main actors, and screenwriter.

Apart from the background information, your introduction should begin to offer an evaluation of the movie. Therefore, it may be longer than one paragraph. This type of essay does not need to include a thesis statement as it is. However, it should contain the central idea of the review.

Plot Summary

This part of the essay is aimed to give your readers a general sense of what a particular movie is about. Writing this section, you should assume that the audience may not have seen the movie just yet. 

Thus, your goal is to provide them with a plot summary. At the same time, be sure to keep it concise and not delve into too many specific details. Otherwise, you may spoil their experience from viewing the film.


While the previous section shares the summary of the main events, the description part should focus on your personal cinematic experience. 

This is where you should include your own thoughts and opinions on things like acting, cinematography, music, special effects, costumes, main characters, and the author's style. Also, be sure to specify your overall impression on how the movie feels, sounds, and looks like.


This is the section where you will be discussing and evaluating how well a particular movie utilizes thematic content and formal techniques. Your task is to highlight these techniques and analyze how their use affects the overall impression the film makes.


The final part of your review essay should remind the readers of your overall opinion of the movie. At this point, you can also offer some recommendations. 

You can state whether you think a particular movie is or is not worth seeing. However, regardless of your statement, be sure to back it up, explaining the reasons why you do or don't recommend watching.

How to Write a Film Review: A Step-By-Step Guide

Follow this guide to write a flawless movie review:

how to write a movie review

Step 1: Pick a Movie

Unless you are assigned to review a specific one, your first step is choosing what artwork exactly you want to discuss. Make sure you pick a movie that is interesting for you and of a genre that you are fairly familiar with.

Step 2: Watch It Multiple Times

Before you move on to the writing process, be sure to note your reaction and impression right after you watched the movie. Write down whether you liked it or not, and specify what exactly you did or didn't like.

Step 3: Write Down Your Overall Impression

Before you move on to the writing process, be sure to note your reaction and impression right after you watched the movie. Write down whether you liked it or not, and specify what exactly you did or didn't like.

Step 4: Make an Outline

Making a movie review outline will help you ensure a logical flow of your essay and will make the writing process much simpler. To create a detailed outline for an essay, you can check standard movie review elements discussed earlier in this article.

Step 5: Come Up With a Catchy Title

The title of your review should be intriguing and attention-grabbing. It is a good idea to play off a title or a quote from it.

Step 6: Write Your Movie Review Essay

When writing your essay, carefully follow the outline. Make sure your it follows the right structure and contains the following points:

  • General info about the movie;
  • A brief summary;
  • Analysis and evaluation of the main characters;
  • Make sure to compare it with others in the same genre or those crafted by the same director. Don't overlook the importance of using APA citation format for accurate referencing.
  • Explanation and assessment of any conventional styles from the director;
  • Analysis of the actors, their performance, and what they bring to the motion picture;
  • Assessment of the formal techniques, for example, the set and lighting;
  • Analysis of the use of costumes;
  • Assessment of artistic visual references, music, sound, etc.; 
  • The final verdict on whether you recommend a particular movie or not and why.

Step 7: Proofread and Edit

Finally, before you hand in your review, be sure to set it aside for a few days and then proofread it with a fresh eye.

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Key Elements You Must Consider When Writing Your Movie Review

When you analyze a flick, it's a bit like putting together an. Let's dive into some important aspects to think about:

movie review essay

Plot dynamics: Explore the intricacies of the storyline, identifying key summary points and their impact on the overall narrative flow.

Cinematographic techniques: Examine the movie's visual elements, including cinematography, lighting, and editing, to gauge their contribution to the storytelling.

Character development: Assess how characters evolve throughout the movie, delving into their motivations, relationships, and overall significance.

Thematic depth: Uncover the underlying themes addressing broader issues such as society, culture, or human nature, and evaluate how effectively they are conveyed.

Directorial style: Analyze the director's unique approach, considering their use of symbolism, mise-en-scène, and other stylistic choices that shape the film's identity.

Writing a Film Review: Do's and Don'ts

Hopefully, this guide will help you cope with writing a top-notch movie review quickly and easily. Now, let's recall the main tips and tricks and define what you should and should not do while writing an awesome movie review.


  • Read the requirements and guidelines provided by your lecturer carefully;
  • Watch a flick you are going to review multiple times;
  • Take notes on everything that has significance or value for your future review;
  • Check out some examples before you start writing yours;
  • Figure out the genre of the piece;
  • Compare and contrast a particular piece to others produced by the same director or examples of a given genre;
  • Include the general info (such as a title, date, screenwriter, director, and so on) at the beginning of your movie review essay;
  • Share your personal opinions, experiences, and thoughts;
  • Provide an overall summary of the plot;
  • Share your cinematic experience from watching;
  • Analyze and evaluate the use of various elements in the movie;
  • Make your review logical, cohesive, and engaging;
  • Make a final statement on whether you do or don't recommend watching a particular film and explain why.


  • Don't start writing before you have read and understood the given requirements;
  • Don't review a movie you haven't seen it till the end;
  • Don't review something you are not personally interested in;
  • Don't focus your review solely on the personal thoughts or unbiased assessment;
  • Don't give out too many significant details concerning the plot in order not to spoil others' experience;
  • Don't hesitate to state your opinion as it is, but do not be too harsh;
  • Don't be afraid to ask for the help of professional writers if you have no time to finish the task on time or are not sure how to do it well.


What is a Movie Review?

How to Write a Good Movie Review?

How to Start a Movie Review?

What to Include in a Movie Review?

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