Content of this article
- Movie review writing guide
- Forrest Gump analysis (example)
- Review structure
- More examples
- Movie related essay samples
1. Movie Review Writing
A lot of people like movies and films. These things add thrill and imaginations to our lives. This, therefore, makes us come to the conclusion that a movie is worth a review if it has been watched. Everyone has a different opinion on the movies they watch – the ratings can range from being great to good or even bad. Thought there are an increasing number of movie sites available on the Internet (some of which are authoritative, others less so (more below)), movie reviews and reviewers are still very much in demand for their own unique takes on a movie. The different types of reviewers can offer different types of writing, which is something that is good in a market which is rapidly becoming over-saturated. Everyone can review a movie, but there are still some differences between the reviewing done by experts, and reviewing done by amateurs – the amateurs are not usually focused on the minutiae of the film in the same way, and are instead focused more on the general ideas presented.
The primary purpose of movie review writing is to give the reader a rough idea of what the movie is about. The movie review greatly determines if an individual wants to watch the movie or not. This type of writing should, therefore, be detailed enough to assist the reader in making an honest decision. As much as the review is based on elaborating the movie review outline, it should not give away the plot of the movie or the surprises that make the movie enjoyable. Opinions on a movie need to be stated clearly, good or bad. If the review is to be brief, stars and scores can also be used to express the reviewer’s thoughts. A good writer should, therefore, have the basic knowledge of how to write a movie review.
- Great movie: Almost Christmas is a movie that has balanced all its features to make a great movie. All the characters fit their roles and make the plot come to life. The costumes and the soundtracks are a plus as they enhance the emotions and feelings of every story line. Almost Christmas is, therefore, a movie worth watching.
- Good movie: London has Fallen is an okay movie. The graphics were on point as well as the sound effects. The cast, however, I felt weren’t up to the task, and did not bring out the feel of the movie. The actors, therefore, led to what was otherwise quite a good time-killing movie (if not a good movie overall) being let down. Additionally, the plot was difficult to comprehend.
- Bad movie: No matter how much you watch Central Intelligence, you can’t get a hold of the movie. The stunts are overrated, and the storyline is off, making the movie boring. The movie is a definite no, and not even worth spending time watching when there is nothing else to watch on TV. Definitely a flop.
2. Complete analysis (Forrest Gump)
- Plot analysis: the movie falls in the genre of modern fiction (modern history is generally considered to stretch from the fifteenth century up, although this category is further divided into early modern (1500s to 1700s) and late modern (1700s to present), with Tom Hanks playing the role of Forrest Gump. His character moves through history and survives all the hardships with decency and honesty.
- Soundtrack analysis: the soundtrack reflects the mood that was popular at the time, which, in turn, creates urgency. The songs are great hits and are appropriate for children to listen to as well. The soundtrack helps to illustrate the transitions of the film’s locations – from warm and safe territory to a more hostile borders. For instance, the song by Fleetwood (Go Your Way) is used to illustrate how Forrest is joined by his friends in his journey. The soundtrack is an integral part of the movie experience, as it brings an emotional centre-point to the move by helping people to better understand just how high the stakes are in certain scenes. The soundtrack is also to convey the terrifying nature of the war scenes, thus helping the movie to pack even more of an emotional punch.
- Atmosphere: later on in the movie, the atmosphere changes – the troops go out on patrol and are far away from their bases which are safe. The atmosphere becomes tense, and at the same time captivating. Having the atmosphere change throughout a movie emphasises that what is happening is actually serious and will have consequences, and the movie Forrest Gump is no different. If the atmosphere is incorrect, then, the movie will not feel so real to the people who are watching it. the movie starts with the atmosphere of the beach party. Music is playing in the background, and people are enjoying barbecue and playing cards. The troops are not left behind as they are seen loading crates of beers in their trucks.
- The main idea of the film: The main idea portrayed in Forrest Gump is that life is filled with unknown surprises. This is substantially illustrated by Forrest Gump himself, who is just a country boy with learning difficulties. Forrest, however, does not let this obstacle define him, and goes to great lengths to be a relevant person in history. The film, while containing some darkness and violence due to the war and its aftermath, is therefore an uplifting and invigorating film, as it shows how people can prevail against all odds, and even thrive. A film needs to have one (or possibly two, though more is of course harder to maintain) main idea if it is to remain coherent throughout.
- Actors play analysis: Tom Hanks fits the role perfectly as he manages to express the love for the country. He portrays the feelings of sadness and comedy at the same time. Forrest, therefore, makes the movie interesting. Tom Hanks is a strong actor, and it is mainly due to his efforts as the lead which make the film as powerful and memorable as it is.
3. Review structure
The structure of a movie review follows the basic steps of the introduction, the body (analysis), the recommendation and the movie review conclusion. A movie review writing guide gives the writer instructions on how to write a movie review. The movie review structure is as follows.
3.1 The introduction
A movie review should open up with an introduction. The introduction is the most appealing way of how to start a movie review, and contains the summary of the movie and opinion that will be stated. Movie review writing hooks give the readers a general feel of what will be illustrated in the review. The introduction for a movie review has to be appealing, so that the reader can get the feel of wanting to read more.
Give a brief illustration of what will be discussed in the review and then proceed to the thesis. Ensure that the thesis is original and at the same time based on the analysis. The thesis for a movie review should be compelling and reflect on a contemporary issue, while the argument should go beyond the plot and straight to the film criticism. Illustrate both the message of the movie and how the film connects to an individual. The thesis paragraph can be followed up with a short summary plot. The section will also give an overview of what will be contained in the body.
3.2 Body paragraphs (analysis)
The analysis covers the fails and accomplishments within the movie, and also gives the writer a chance to express their feelings towards it. The cinematography, acting, the setting, and soundtrack can also be discussed in this section. Ensure that the writing is smooth and easy to comprehend. For the review to seem realistic and professional, present facts and opinions in the same page, and try to use examples that are descriptive in order to bring the plot to life. Dialogue snippets can and should be quoted to give the review snappiness. You can add a few movie review tips such as giving the language used some personality, in order to create a style which will reflect a unique perspective to entertain the reader.
A movie review structure can also have a recommendation. The recommendation gives the writers a chance to commend the film and decide if it’s worth the money.
The conclusion for a movie review should be in a position to be tied up with the thesis. The conclusion should also offer guidance of whether to watch the film or not. There are a number of ways of how to end a movie review. However, the most effective style is to make it compelling and at the same time entertaining.
4. Polishing the review
The review is polished through editing. The final content should go hand in hand with the movie review draft. Fine tune the review to ensure it is in line with the thesis. Ensure that the content has enough examples to back up the claims. You should also proofread the review to eliminate any spelling mistakes and errors that can be avoided – movie review writing needs to be precise and free of errors. Finally, share the review with friends and family and see if it has an impact on their opinions of the movie.
5. More examples
5.1 Martian review
5.2 The Shawshank Redemption review
5.3 Star Trek review
5.4 Man of Steel review
More movie related essay samples
Put most concisely by Timothy Corrigan in his book on the essay film: ‘from its literary origins to its cinematic revisions, the essayistic describes the many-layered activities of a personal point of view as a public experience’.
Perhaps a close cousin to documentary, the essay film is at its core a personal mode of filmmaking. Structured in a breadth of forms, a partial definition could be said to be part fact, part fiction with an intense intimacy (but none of these are necessarily paramount).
Stemming from the literary essay as a form of personal expression borne from in-depth explorations of its chosen topic, the essay film can be agitprop, exploratory, or diaristic and generally rejects narrative progression and concretised conclusions in favour of a thematic ambivalence. Due to its nature as inherently personal, the term itself is as vague and expansive as the broad collective of films it purports to represent.
To borrow Aldous Huxley’s definition, the essay is a device for saying almost everything about almost anything. In built then is an inherent expansiveness that informs a great ambition in the form itself, but as Huxley acknowledges it can only say almost anything; whether extolling the need for a socialist state (Man with a Movie Camera), deconstructing the power and status of the image itself (Histoire(s) du Cinema, Images of the World and the Inscription of War, Los Angeles Plays Itself) or providing a means to consider ones of past (Walden, News from home, Blue), the essay film is only the form of expression, which unlike any other taxonomic term suggests almost nothing about the film itself other than its desire to explore.
Below is an 17 film introduction to the essay film that cannot be pinned down and continue to remake and remodel itself as freely as it sheds connections between any of the films within its own canon.
1. Man with a Movie Camera (1929) dir. Dziga Vertov
An exercise in technical experimentation, Man with a Movie Camera is the pioneering, not to mention most lauded, of Vertov’s filmic polemics: espousing not only a new, necessary way of life, but a means of living that is created through cinema.
Shot by Maurice Kaufman, brother of Vertov, the film is a portrait of a city across 24 hours via bold experimentation based on Vertov’s staunchly Marxist ideologies. Its propagandist structure does not however belie its beauty.
Through masterful technique it became the defining film of 1920’s Soviet Union (perhaps on a par with Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin). Its propagation of film as the means through which life is realised, that the camera is now an unequivocal feature of modernity and too a powerful political tool, creates a filmic love letter to industrialisation and the humanist elements of physical labour.
In opposition to Eisenstein, Vertov is a master of his own brand of idiosyncratic montage which, with its sublime manipulative technique combined with realist images, rejects the opiate affects of traditional narrative cinema, attempting to create instead a cinematic language in which the camera becomes the pen of the 20th century.
2. A Propos de Nice (1930) dir. Jean Vigo
Shot by Boris Kaufman, brother of Dziga Vertov (Man with a Movie Camera), A Propos de Nice is a satirical portrait of life in 1920’s Nice. The leisurely upper classes of French society are the subjects of a portrayal the blind escapism and ignorance created by modernity.
Vigo thus contrasts the bourgeois culture of relaxation with the daily grind of the poor in society. The parodic form of the travelogue as anthropological study is employed as a means of document increasing social and economic disparities which Vigo sought to present as necessitating a revolutionary stance (the likes of which cinematographer Kaufman glean from his brother’s agit-prop, propagandist Kino-Pravda series).
Engrained in the very structure of modern society is, for Vigo, deep social inequality; life in this case masks its own inequalities through ignorance and selfishness. Images of women energetically dancing are reduced to slow modern and thus arises from them the absurdity of inherent inequalities.
Like a Jay Gatsby party, the excitement and laughter only serves to mask a profound emptiness whose own ridiculousness is an unacknowledged form of societal freakshow, which only those on the outside can perceive.
3. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967) dir. Jean-Luc Godard
In a year of 3 Godard diatribes against neo-capitalism, 2 or 3 Thing I Know About Her is the most contemplative; if La Chinoise a document of the soon to be riotous students, 2 or 3 is the suburban families watching the events unfold on their television screens.
Fraught with concern for the disintegration of lexical meaning, Godard’s collage of modern life follows the existentially empty Julitte Jeanson, a bourgeise housewife-come-prostitute, as she contemplates her preconceived societal role and the deadened collective consciousness of everyone whom Godard’s camera encounters.
If language is the house one lives in, as Juliette informs her son, then the house is subject to the blind whims of suited right wing repo men.
The portrait of Juliette is a composite sketch of the modern citizen, replaceable, replicable to the extent that Godard introduces Juliette first as Marina Vlady, the actress who plays her, before acknowledging her as a fictional creation; a less subtle evocation of the resignation to role playing in post-war France, watching death in Vietnam while decided whether or not to go and wash the car.
4. Walden; Diaries, Notes, and Sketches (1969) dir. Jonas Mekas
Walden is the essay film in its most diaristic form. Essentially a suitably handsome extended home video, Mekas’s film, shot from 1964-1969, features a series of chronologically edited video diaries that span from eating Chinese food with John Lennon, footage from the Velvet Underground’s first performance, or just the filmmaker eating a croissant in Marseille.
Given the length, the film could be criticised as an epic exercise in self-gratification (the filmic equivalent of continuous name dropping), or simultaneously as an invitation into the expansive but hermetic world of the New York art scene in the late 60’s, of which Mekas’ himself was a central fixture.
As with Akerman’s News From Home, it is the film’s internal focus, an exposure of the personal, wherein its interest lies. Mekas’ ability to construct a montage that appears at ease with itself in all its fragmentation, relying on meticulous in-camera precision, creates a sea images which with each wave comes harmony and contrast. Walden emerges then as an unpretentious acknowledgment of the inextricability of experience and image, finding within it celebrations of life’s variety and extended harmonies.
5. F for Fake (1973) dir. Orson Welles
Welles’s final film is an explosive and intelligent scrutinisation of the filmmaking process and the concept of authenticity in art. Centrally presenting Elmyr de Hory’s career as an art forger, F for Fake transcends basic narrative or documentary expositions to instead philosophise on the ontology of authorship.
Increasingly Welles rejects infallibility in favour of a profound ambivalence that is read across the careers of various forgers to eventually become, as is naturally the case for such a sublime example of the essay film, a personal contemplation of his own career and his self-definition as a perpetual sceptic.
Through rhythmic montage editing and questioning of the structure and the power of the image itself, F for Fake eulogizes the image as a consistently fallible, or deconstructible form, and in true Wellesian style, given it is the form that its director made his career,cannot help but find humour within.
6. Le Fond de l’air est rouge/A Grin Without a Cat (1977) dir. Chris Marker
Widely acknowledged as the master of the essay film, Le fond de l’air est rouge is a personal rumination of discontent on the progression and dissolution of left-wing politics from Vietnam up until the films release in 1977.
10 years after the Marker conceived Loin du Vietnam, a protest film against the Vietnam war structured in segments from a wealth of French Filmmakers including Godard, Resnais, Lelouch, Varda and Klein, the film is markedly more melancholic, plagued by a scepticism highlighted in the French title (directly translated as the essence of the air is red) that implies the socialist sentiment only ever existed in the air.
Opening with shots from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925), Marker’s mastery of the appropriated image emerges. The film’s first four minutes are perhaps the finest montage sequence of post-war cinema, commending the bravery of those who fought for the socialist ideal but ultimately acknowledging the inevitability of its failure at the hands of right wing opposition, whose growth in power Marker sees as masked by the outward protests of the left.
Behind closed doors centre right solidarity, particularly in Marker’s native France, was only increased in the face of a scattered, disorganised and self-destructive shouts for power from the left.
Marker’s film is archival re-appropriation at its most controlled, his erudition and poetic narration reinforcing the notion of history itself as recreated and retold by individuals, always having an agenda.
7. News From Home (1977) dir. Chantal Akerman
Borne from the influence of the structuralist filmmakers Akerman encountered in New York (see Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage and Hollis Frampton), News from Home is a portrait of a city as seen through the eyes of a foreigner, as she attempts to come to terms with her new surroundings and the contrast to the life she left in Brussels (constantly referenced in the letters from her mother that are used to narrate the film).
Akerman films New York with the intricate eye of someone completely out of their depth, attempting to survive in a city they hardly know, emphasised by the concern of the letters from her mother. News from Home is a contemplation of the inescapability of the past and how it informs the present viewed from a perspective of awe, confusion and intense deliberation.
Akerman’s stares at New York as if to glean some meaning from its landscape as the letters from her mother cannot help make her feel at once a child and to the unchartered explorer entering a new terrain with bravado and wonder.
8. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) dir. Godfrey Reggio
Koyaanisqatsi, meaning life out of balance, is a poetic ode to absurdity constructed through cinematographic deconstructions of time and space. By slowing down images or speeding them up via time-lapse techniques, Reggio presents the fog of modernity as a means to highlight the absurdity of purported meanings, whether it is mass production of hot dogs or humanities destructive capabilities life lived blindly, perceived without questioning, is insignificant.
The film’s rejection of language forces full focus onto the status and power of imagery, especially when contorted, to suppose passivity and acceptance as a way of life, unsurprisingly drawing influence, like Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) from Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, going as far as to acknowledge him in the credits along with fellow critics of mass communications, big society and the power of technology, Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich and Leopold Kohr.
As with Godard’s concern for the disintegration of language into base semiotic signifiers, evocative of nothing but materials and the literal, Koyaanisqatsi presents ‘a state of life that calls for another way a living’; a visually stunning but essentially aggressive denouncement of advanced capitalism, its pretence to knowledge and its ability to create an omnipresent complacency that drapes life in a visually pleasing veil, underneath which lies a profound nothingness.
Subscribe via Email or RSS Feed
Pages: 1 2