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

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 – this can tell you any college essay writer. 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 sample:

Movie review essentials

Getting ready to write the movie review

It may seem obvious that for a movie review, you need to watch the movie. But the practice has shown that more than preparing popcorn is required to write a good movie review. Here is some advice you can follow to evaluate the movie better.

  • Get prepared. If the movie is filmed based on a book, read it or look through the brief description to have a general idea.
  • Make a list of touching points to consider while watching. Learn the teacher’s requirements and also add them to the list. It will help you be more attentive to details.
  • Watch the movie two-three times to mention all the details and better evaluate all moments. Refrain from relying on your memory. You can’t remember all the moments at once. Moreover, some moments in movies are revealed only after re-watching. Make sure that you have entirely understood the film.
  • Note down the most touching moments while watching. If you watch the record, write down the time to see them again. Note your impressions and thoughts right after the movie ends.
  • Learn more about the director and filmography. To make your review more solid and profound, read about the director’s motives for creating this movie, explore the locations where the movie was filmed, events that inspired the director to make the film, etc.

How to write a good movie review for college in 8 steps

How to write a movie review

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.

8. Edit and proofread the text of your movie review. It’s essential to ensure you have no grammatical errors or other mistakes in the text, as you usually do when you write my college essay. Re-read the text to check whether you have covered all movie scenes, every thought has an ending, and the text reads smoothly.

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 writing

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.

Questions to get more ideas for movie review

– What atmosphere does the movie convey?
– How does the director address the story? Which methods were utilized?
– How does the film differ from other movies filmed by this director?
– Is the script well written? What are the most effective parts? Which parts need more development?
– What lessons does the film present?
– Does the script flow smoothly?
– Are movie characters memorable and clear? Do they change across the film?
– What do you think about dialogues? Do they sound truthful and authentic?
– How have the actors portrayed their characters? Did the director choose the actors right?
– What are the main motives of the main characters? What makes them stand out?
– How does the director depict the protagonist and antagonist? How does it influence the full story?
– How is the conflict depicted in the film?
– Was the setting chosen right? What do you think about the costumes?
– What makes this particular movie good for you?
– What were your thoughts about the movie at the beginning? Have you changed your mind after you have finished watching the movie?

Movie review example 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.

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More movie review examples

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Movie review format

Movie review structure

Including all the necessary points in your movie review is essential. Creating an outline will significantly improve your concentration on the movie’s central idea and help you stay aware of the variety of information you wish to disclose.

Below you will find the typical movie review format. You can use it as a basis if the teacher has yet to require the other.


It’s not only the opening words. You should give basic information about the movie right ahead in a movie review. Remember to list the title, director, year of production, and any background information.


Whether your reader has seen the movie or not, you need to shortly write about the story that laid the film’s foundation. Take time to explore other works of the director to compare his movies to other works.

Analysis of the plot.

Evaluate the plot points, which typically include exposition, rising action, dilemma, climax, falling action, and resolution (see the explanation of these words in the image below). The plot structure may differ and contain more or fewer points.

Review of creative tools.

Here you can discuss soundtracks, actors, lighting, camera angles, costumes, dialogues, and other methods contributing to the overall picture and movie perception.

Evaluation of cast.

Acting and actors’ choices may significantly influence the overall portrayal of the story. Think about whether all actors fit their roles and the quality of their performance.


If you have found any plot gaps or wish to make an accent on the most exciting twists in the film, support it with facts from the movie. Explain whether the director succeeded in telling the story and how. If required, relate the topic to your course, its similarity with the original book, or the topic’s relevance nowadays.


The final paragraph is always a summary of your main point previously disclosed. Sum up the director’s efforts to create the picture and restate the most exciting moments from the movie.


movie plot components

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, as well as professional writers to, when you pay for essay to save your time. 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 to use in your movie 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 …

Additional description table for movie review writing

How to Write a Movie Review
Mistakes to avoid while writing a movie review

  • Losing focus on the movie. It’s a good idea to mention the history of creating the film or touch on the historical background of the documentary film. But try to add only a bit of related information. Ensure you have included only the necessary details, and stay tuned for the review of the movie itself.
  • Talking too much about yourself. While the review is more about presenting a personal point of view, you are still writing an academic paper which means you must avoid “I” statements and write in the third person.
  • Forgetting to add factual information about the film. It’s crucial to add a summary and general information about the movie.
  • Stating your point of view without factual support. Always accompany your thoughts with short descriptions of movie episodes.
  • Writing general phrases like “the actors’ play was awful” or “the end of the movie was predictable.” Think of using more specific terms that you can find in this article or use your imagination.
  • Creating a text without any analytical component. A good movie review is only possible by critically evaluating the plot, actors’ play, and creative elements.

Movie review writing assistance from the experts

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 team of paper writers. 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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