Whether you are an actor, a filmmaker or a film geek through and through, writing film reviews can help hone your ability to think critically and watch movies with a response that goes deeper than “that movie was awesome!” And for you future film reviewers out there, it’s never too soon to start. Here are nine tips for writing a film review that people will want to read.
1. Watch the film
Once is necessary twice is preferable. Taking notes is also a good idea and will help the writing process by making it easy to refer to your in-the-moment thoughts and reactions.
2. Express your opinions and support your criticism.
Professional reviewers do not shy away from telling their readers whether they thought the movie was good bad or indifferent, and in fact readers come to rely on those reviewers whose tastes reflect their own when deciding whether or not to spend their time and money. Professional reviewers also have watched a lot of movies and can express why and how they came to their criticism. Be sure to back up your thoughts with specifics–a disappointing performance, a ridiculous plot, beautiful cinematography, difficult material that leaves you thinking, and so on.
3. Consider your audience.
Are you writing for a fan site, a national news outlet, or a Teen Magazine? Knowing who your readers are can help you decide what elements of the movie to highlight. You should also adjust your writing style to fit the publication.
4. The actors
Many casual filmgoers will be inspired to see a movie if a favorite actor is in it, so you should probably spend a little space talking about the performances: seasoned actor in a new kind of role, brilliant performance from a rising star, excellence despite a lackluster script, dynamics in an ensemble, and so much more can be said about the actors in any given film.
5. Directors, cinematographers, special effects.
This is where your film geek can really shine. Tell your readers about the highlights or missteps of directors, cinematographers, costume designers and CGI magicians. What worked, what surprised, what fell short of expectations, are all great questions to address in the body of your review.