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Film Review Template


  1. Class: Unspecified
  2. This template is published for use.
  1. Step 1: Preparation
    Percent time spent on this step: 50%


    • If a film was not assigned to you by your instructor, choose one yourself. Think carefully about what film you would be interested in reviewing.

      • Consider your preferences. You can choose a film you have already read, or a film which is new to you.
      • If you find it difficult to decide on what film to review, try browsing Rotten Tomatoes, a film review website, for their list of most lauded films.
      • Consider what genre you want to delve into. When you are writing a film review, you will have to know a decent amount of information about the genre of the film you are going to review.
    • Watch the film to outline scenes, characters, and the plot.

      • In the process of watching the film, note down your impressions of the film every time it makes you smile, sad, grimace, and so on.
      • Note down a synopsis of the plot, a description of the characters, and some of the most important scenes.
      • Write about scenes which you did not understand.
    • After watching the film for the first time, develop a general opinion of it. It is not your final opinion however, and it can change after rewatching the film.

      • Make a list of your expectations for the film, and compare them to the emotions that the film evoked in you while watching it. Decide whether the difference is favorable.
      • Briefly formulate your opinion on the film in up to five sentences and write it down.
    • Also, return to the important scenes that you wrote about in your initial notes. Examine the scenes carefully and make additional notes.

      • Take notes on the whole film as well as on the most important scenes.
      • While examining and going through the important scenes again and again, make sure you list down all the details that are striking.
    • Make sure you have a firm grasp and a complete understanding of what is going on in the film.

      • Return to the scenes that you marked as difficult to understand, and try to grasp their meaning again. Ask your instructor about these elusive scenes or consult research about it.
      • Pay attention to characters and their motives. If you are reviewing a documentary film, make sure you understand the context.
  2. Step 2: Read Reviews
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • After you decide on your personal opinion, it is useful to know what other people think.

      • Check only the first two pages of Internet search engine results.
      • Pay more attention to reviews published by popular and/or authoritative resources.
    • Look for advice from professional critics discussing what the director could have done better while making the film.

      • By reading the reviews of professional critics and noticing what they pay their attention to, you can discover something new about the film you are reviewing.
      • Read the reviews even of those critics whose opinion is different from yours. This way you can get a new perspective on the film.
      • Trust your opinion and the opinion of critics. Keep an open mind.
    • Now that you have seen the film twice and made yourself acquainted with alternative opinions, you know the film’s plot, characters, scenes, and have your notes, it is time to form your final opinion.

      • Return to your briefly formulated opinion on the film, and expand it into ten sentences. Has your opinion changed for better or for worse? What new information have you gathered from the reviews written by other critics? What has affected your final opinion? What is your verdict of the film? This is what you should update your initial opinion with.
      • Mind that it is not the review itself, but rather a brief but detailed synopsis for you, so you do not need to be wordy or use many details in your write-up.
  3. Step 3: Write the First Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 30%


    • Review and arrange all the information you have collected about the film.

      • Decide on up to five subjects regarding the film that you will cover in your review. This can be the plot, characters, cinematography, the director’s skill, and so on.
      • Decide on what supporting material you will use to illustrate the statements you make in the review. Create a map of ideas; in it, list your main points (in the order of priority), accompanied by details about scenes from the film and research that will work as supporting material. Match these with the main points they should be supporting.
      • Make sure the chosen main points correspond with the synopsis you have created for yourself. Be aware of situations when the main points you decide to cover do not actually reflect your opinion of the film.
    • You must allocate your ideas between the paragraphs of your review. Each paragraph should be centered on one idea.

      • Make a brief scheme of the introduction. Usually, it is a general introductory sentence, a “narrow-down” sentence (meaning a sentence or two that gradually leads readers to the particular film you are reviewing), some background information, and a thesis statement in which you express your general opinion on the film.
      • Chalk out the main body of your review. Each paragraph of the main body should be dedicated to one of the subjects that you have chosen to cover. A main body paragraph usually consists of a topic sentence, the actual subject of this paragraph, your opinion and arguments on it, supported by the respective details about scenes, characters and other elements of the film. Make sure to transit between the main body paragraphs smoothly.
      • Think about what you are going to include in the conclusion. Usually, a conclusion is a brief summary of the information presented in the main body, and an ending note to readers.
    • Using the outline, start filling it with details.

      • When writing, pay attention to whether various parts of your review logically connect to each other.
      • When writing the main body, expand on each paragraph; it is acceptable to use metaphors, comparisons with other filmmakers, and so on. You can also use humor--just remember that it should not be offensive.
      • In the concluding paragraph, repeat your opinion of the film (but do not simply copy-paste it from the introduction), and include your recommendations about whether the film is worth watching or not.
      • It is common to talk about films in sequential order while reviewing them.
  4. Step 4: Work on the Final Draft
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Check whether you have included all the information you wanted.

      • All of the claims you make should be illustrated by examples from the film, and if possible, in detail.
      • Check if you have given a comprehensive opinion, considering the opinions of others and the faults of the film.
    • A review should not contain grammatical, punctuation, or stylistic mistakes, as well as typos.

      • Read through the text of your review, paying attention to the spelling of words, and punctuation marks. Also, look for typos.
      • Read your review aloud. This way you will be able to find parts that seem unnatural, and fix them. Cut out all unnecessary words.
  5. Step 5: Feedback
    Percent time spent on this step: 5%


    • Visiting your school writing center is the best option. If you are not in school, hire a private tutor to look over your writing.

      • Set an appointment at your local writing center. Be sure to be on time, to bring in a printed copy of your writing, and to be open to suggestions/critique.
      • When hiring a private tutor, it is better to hire an experienced tutor that charges a bit more than expected. They can, sometimes, completely change your outlook on writing and dramatically improve your writing.
    • Listen carefully to what your colleague and/or tutor has said, and make notes about what needs to change. Use your best discretion and change your film review according to your teacher’s criteria.

      • When receiving criticism, be open-minded. Do not fall into the trap of being defensive.
      • Do not be overly-receptive as well. Do not change your entire film review based on others’ comments if the changes do not work better than the original.
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