How to Write a Good Movie Review for College Like a Film Critic

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Imagine that you are one of the most famous critics to take part in evaluating a film for an Oscar. Thrilling, huh? In this article we will tell you what points to consider to write a professional movie review for college or another occasion.

The Difference Between a School and College Movie Review

Writing a movie review for college or university is more than a brief story of your enjoyment of the movie. You will need to analyze elements of the film and see things that would be invisible for an ordinary viewer. Also, you will need to use your critical thinking and research skills to create a powerful text.

What makes a perfect movie review for college? The answer is a well-balanced overview of key points, considering the inner story, themes, and other elements that form the movie into a coherent whole. An extended movie review also includes the judgment and sharing of emotions about the movie, but contains a deeper analysis of movie components.

The art of filmmaking consists of many parts that play significant roles in the overall perception of the story. Here is a list of basic elements that you can include in a movie review:

– Film genre
– Producer
– Film director
– Budget
– Screenplay
– Setting and overall atmosphere
– Cast and acting
– Story lines
– Film message(s)
– Dialogue
– Music accompaniment
– Powerful scenes
– Camera operations
– Special effects
– Lighting
– Costumes and makeup

How to Write a Good Movie Review for College in 8 Steps

1. Watch the film like a film critic. Even if you have already watched the film several times, it’s time to analyze it from another angle. Do actors wear historically correct costumes? What emotions does the camera operator try to convey? How does one scene move to another? What mood does the color and lighting establish? Try to evaluate all elements that were involved in the film creation.

2. Divide the film into scenes. This will help you find out the sequence of scenes and evaluate their significance to the overall idea. Look how the director moves from one story line to another, presents a story twist, and depicts characters. Does the movie have flashbacks?

3. Look through critical reviews of the movie. Search not only over the internet, but also look at academic databases in your college library. Academic works about films and views of professionals about the films may give you good ideas for your own review.

4. Determine the main thesis. What will be the main thought of your movie review? For example, you can discuss the movie in terms of its effect on the audience, compliance of the film with the depicted epoch, or the quality of the book adaptation.

5. Analyze the most significant scenes. Analyze the location, story development, and camera work. How does the director use technical means and the actors’ performances to create the mood, meaning, and character development?

6. Present your own point of view and understanding of the film. For example, you can explain the philosophical aspects in the movie “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

7. Write your first draft. Create an outline that will help you to structure your review. Typically, you will need an introduction, body (review of story, technical characteristics, cast, directing), and conclusion.

When you finish your first draft, make sure that your movie review:

  • has an attractive and attention-grabbing title;
  • has a brief description at the very beginning;
  • contains a short overview of the story;
  • analyzes the key elements of the movie;
  • contains real examples from the movie to back up your personal opinion;
  • keeps the ending and story twists a surprise;
  • recommends the movie to a particular audience.

Ideas for Movie Review: Assignment College

While writing an effective movie review, you will need to take a certain approach to the movie. Here is a list of approaches that you can apply to your movie review:

  • The role of music, special effects, operator work, motifs, editing, characters, or other movie details. For example, you can discuss the role of black and white tones in “Angel-A” (2005) by Luc Besson.
  • Analysis of the narrative form. For example, you can define the influence of postmodern scripts in “Pulp Fiction” (1994) by Quentin Tarantino.
  • Analysis of a movie from a cultural, political, theoretical, historical, or ideological perspective. You can make a profound analysis of the movie in the context of a particular approach.
  • The influence of an artistic vision and the director’s approaches to the overall character of the movie. How has the director’s viewpoint influenced the movie? Do the director’s works have distinctive characteristics that distinguish him or her from other directors?
  • Analysis of the film genre from the perspective of typical qualities of the genre. For example, you have chosen the thriller “The Silence of the Lambs.” What typical qualities of a thriller does this movie have? What differentiates it from other thrillers?
  • The role of cultural traditions and the country’s history on the film. For example, a typical ending of Hollywood movies is a happy ending. Bollywood movies are typically accompanied by dancing or singing.
  • Comparison of two films. It may be two films of one director, or two films on one book or story, or two films of identical genres.

Movie Review Examples for College Students

In the sample below you can read an excerpt of a movie review dedicated to the movie “Donnie Darko.” The author makes a brief overview on the movie, touches the main themes, and makes an argument about the main character. Consider the structure, word choice, and phrases that you can apply to your own review.

Donnie Darko: Superhero or Ordinary Schizo?

The film Donnie Darko was directed by Richard Kelly when he was 26 years old. The director tried to reflect his childhood fears and phobias, providing them with a mystical and fantastic environment. The whole movie was filmed within 28 days and remains on the list of the 250 best movies on IMDB. Donnie Darko is an ordinary American teenager who lives with his family in a small town. However, Donnie has one distinctive feature. He is schizophrenic. Donnie periodically meets a creature named Frank (James Duval), who calls him somewhere or asks about something.

The scene of a family dinner introduces us to Darko’s family. His father is always ready to apply humor to even the most awkward situations. His mother is calm and extremely worried about the future of her children. Despite the fact that all children quarrel, it seems that the family is happy. They have their own problems, but we see that everyone loves each other.

During the film we can trace two main themes: one about God, and the other youthful vitality. These two themes are intertwined, so the viewer may not mention one separately. This also takes place in the confrontation of the young, crazy, idealists (liberals) who are open to new ideas, and the reasonable and cautious adults (conservatives). This was stated from the very beginning: Elizabeth Darko declares that she will vote for Dukakis on recent presidential elections and is not going to marry until she will be thirty. Most of the events in the film show how 15-year-old teenagers can sometimes be wiser and cleverer than teachers. (…)

The music accompaniment highlights the most significant moments in the films. Each moment can be represented as an individual music clip. The Tears for Fears song introduces the college staff during the scene in the school’s hall and makes a strong association of music and the school community. (…)

While Donnie seems to be an awkward teenager, his actions make the viewer think that he is a superhero. During the first conversation, Gretchen asked: “Donnie Darko. What the hell kind of name is that? It’s like some sort of superhero or something.” And Donnie answered: “What makes you think I’m not?” The ending of the movie proves that he was right. (…)

This movie is exceptional, original, and extraordinary. Donnie Darko is not a parody on thrillers and horrors; it’s an extremely serious, dark, and depressive story. The movie can be recommended to teenagers and adults interested in multi-genre films. (…)

Work Cited

Donnie Darko. Directed by James Richard Kelly, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 19 Jan. 2001.

Tips to Consider While Writing a Movie Review for College

  • Browse the IMDB terminology glossary and apply it to your writing. This will make your review look more professional.
  • Always consider the audience you are writing to. Apply the right writing style to make your text more compelling to the reader.
  • Use facts, numbers, and statistics to make your review more credible. Quote the director’s and producer’s views on the film, or cite professional movie critics.
  • Use active sentences. It is fine to write several sentences using passive voice, but don’t overuse it.
  • Provide evidence to prove your point of view. For example, you can add descriptions of scenes or character descriptions.
  • Use phrases from our phrase list that you can read below.

Phrases You Can Use in Your Review


It is a typical representative of the drama/ comedy/ action film/ thriller genre …
The movie was directed/ produced by …
The script was written by/ was take from …
The story is about…
The movie has a classical/ multiple timeline/ hyperlink/ circular structure …

Main body:

The film contains/ is full/ gets …
The music underlines/ conveys/ supports …
The story unfolds/ takes place/ creates an atmosphere …
The story arises curiosity/ keeps tension/ entertains/ touches/ thrills/ has unexpected twists …
Dialogues are melodramatic/ convincing/ realistic …
The actors’ performances are exceptional/ personal/ touching/ realistic/ appealing/ convincing …
The film contains a few funny/ scary/ strange scenes …
The film gets extremely funny/ dramatic/ thrilling in places …
The most powerful scene is …


If you enjoy …, you will like this film …
The film literally …
If you find films/ works of director X compelling, you will enjoy this film too …
This film will change the way you think …
I certainly/ definitely recommend this film to …
On a scale from ten to zero …
Summing up, the film is must-see/ worth seeing/ shouldn’t be missed/ box office success …

We hope that our article will help you create an astonishing review. You can find additional information about how to write a movie review from our writing team. We hope you will enjoy your writing! In any case, remember that our service is always online to help you take care of your homework assignments. Just let us know that you need help by completing the order form on this page. Good luck!

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