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ASSIGNMENT: Writing a Film Review
With storytelling, it’s important to think about not only the story itself (content: plot, setting, character) but also about how the story is being told and who is actually telling it. As with most things in life, asking who, what, when, where, why, and how will take you deep and wide. Ultimately, you can only make sense of the story if you examine the perspective from which it’s being told. But, as with life in general, we are easily swept away by the plot and characters and seldom ponder the narrator’s point of view. In film, many times the viewer will literally look through a particular character’s eyes, forging an instantaneous but potent psychological affinity with that particular character.
Contemplate these questions:
What is the generating circumstance leading into the story?
What is the plot structure–what parts of the story comprise beginning, middle, end?
How do films reflect and inform culture?
How do films translate stories from page to screen?
How do filmmakers deal with the rhythm and passage of time within the narrative flow of the story?
What qualities does film have that literature does not and vice versa?
What is the mythic quality of film?
What is it about the particular film that qualifies it to be considered works of art?
- Give description or summary of the film. The most usual place is at or near the beginning.
- Give commentary about good and bad points from the movie, using at least three of the categories listed below in, “WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT IN A MOVIE REVIEW.”
- Find two other movie reviews for the same movie and include quotes or summary from the reviews. Be sure to use parenthetical citation.
The Associated Press called it “an explosion of joy in the midst of startling squalor and one of the most visceral, original films to come along in a while” (Lemire). Miami Herald added that it’s “dreamy and poetic, but also grounded in grit and swamp mud” (Rodriguez).
- Even if you think the movie is excellent, give a negative comment about it, using reasonable and significant examples of flaws.
(Reasonable criticism: The music sometimes overpowered the scene being presented.)
(Unreasonable criticism: I hate movies with two-word titles and movies set in Utah.)
- Conclude your review with a recommendation to see or not see the movie, with a rationale that explains your recommendation.
- Length: 3-4 pages, one inch margins, Times New Roman, 12 pt. font. MLA Format. Works cited page with your two reviews and a citation for the film you are reviewing.
How to Cite a Film:
Beasts of the Southern Wild. Benh Zeitlin. Fox Searchlight, 2012. Film.
A FILM REVIEW DEFINITION:
A critical movie review is a short semiformal essay (from one page to chapter-length)
involving an opinion of and some information about a movie, recent or not.
A review is not the same as a mere summary of the scenes or a re-sequenced outline of the story.
A good review should include a statement of what the filmmaker has tried to do, evaluates
how well the filmmaker succeeded (in the opinion of the reviewer), and presents appropriate evidence to support that evaluation. The reviewer should always give sufficient information
to allow the reader to form a personal opinion of the movie in question.
WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT IN A MOVIE REVIEW
Is the script believable as a story, at least according to its own terms?
Do the lines make sense in general coming from such characters?
- Pictures / Editing
Are the scenes (the mise en scene) composed well?
Is the continuity (part of the editing) effective or is it distracting?
Is the cutting and other shot-changing effective?
Is the story interesting? All the way through?
Is the story clichéd? Believeable? Does it command the viewer’s attention?
- Camera work
Do the scenes look clear and appropriate?
Does the color look good and appropriate?
Does the cinematography enhance the story the director is trying to tell?
Are the camera angles and shots appropriate / effective?
Is the concept presented clearly and effectively?
Is the story put together in such a way that it enhances or interferes with
the acting and the script?
Is the style consistent and clear?
Is the style original? Compelling? Creative?
Do the actors deliver the language in a believable and appropriate way?
Are the actors’ behaviors believable and appropriate? Creative? Original?
Does the music “drive” the story and “tell” the viewer what to think?
Does the music create an enhancing background to the pictures?
- Other Movies & Comparisons
How does this movie compare with others of its kind?
How does this movie compare with others by the director?
How does this movie compare with others with these actors?
How does this movie compare with other forms of the story?
Is the movie accurate, if some factual basis is relevant?
Is the movie “good”?
Should a potential viewer go see it?