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Movie reviews and critiques follow roughly the same format as the book reviews and critiques. Outside of academia, movie reviews and critiques are very different.

For example, film reviews inform prospective consumers by providing a timely evaluation of films currently on offer. Reviews include a brief plot synopsis while avoiding “spoilers,” identify any stars associated with the project, indicate the conventions of genre and scale within which the film operates, and pronounce a clear assessment of the film. The review is directed at a general audience who has NOT seen the film and attempts to answer the question: is this film worth my time and money? (Source: Gregory Brophy, Associate Professor in the English Department)

Film critiques are informed analyses and are enriched by multiple viewings. Film analysis isolates and examines FORMAL techniques and patterns within a film in order to clarify and deepen our understanding of the film’s aesthetic and thematic concerns. Readers of film critique expect timely and relevant reflections on contemporary culture, but they’re also informed by a deeper understanding of film history, technique, and criticism, knowledge that primes them to consider and critique the writer’s position on the film and its connections to other aspects of culture and politics. (Source: Gregory Brophy, Associate Professor in the English Department)

Once again, professors typically assign film reviews as opposed to critiques but sometimes they use both review and critique interchangeably. The above information applies to non-academic reviews so it is ideal to clarify what your professors are looking for specifically. In this sense, critical analysis can find its way into reviews, which are fundamentally important to your essay.

The format should also follow the essay format, with an introduction and a thesis statement, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The name of the movie or documentary should be mentioned in the introduction (as well as cited accurately in the bibliography). Briefly describe the plot of the movie. There are different ways to approach a film review, but the two most used in classes are either by relating the movie themes to course material or by focusing on specific scenes that shocked you. Usually, the professor will guide you and make it clear if they are looking for specific approaches. For example, in the course HIS 242: History of Animals: Prey, Predator and Partner, the professor provides a list of films to students to choose from and was very specific to relate the film themes to material learned in class. In HIS 214: United States, 1877-1945, the professor expected students to talk about what shocked them the most about the documentary watched. Focus on specific scenes or moments rather than describing the entire linear plot.

You may wish to describe how the setting, the music, or the cinematography conveys the story. What were the directors and writers trying to achieve? Did they succeed? What was the intended audience or the message? If it’s a historical movie, is it accurate? Remember, you are writing in the context of history, not as a film critic. What did you think the movie was going to be about? Did it meet your expectations? Were you disappointed when it wasn’t what you were expecting? Did the story progress the way you wanted it to? Did you enjoy the ending? Would you recommend the movie? What score would you assign it on a scale of 1 to 10? These are just some ways to give you some ideas. The most important thing is that you reflect your thoughts candidly and clearly.