As a writer, you can be contacted to write a review on a blockbuster or a flop. As such, the onus is on you to hone your ability to think critically and watch movies beyond the conventional it was a great movie or a flop mindset.
Writing a movie review requires you to watch the movie more than once. This is because you are not watching the movie to relish it; rather, you’re watching with the aim of taking cognisance of every act, scene, dialogue, and monologue to help you write a review. Therefore, it is advisable to watch the movie with a notepad so you can take note of every detail and observation. However, here are some tips you can use to write a good movie review:
Begin with a compelling detail or opinion about the movie: this serves as the premise of your review. The idea is to grab your reader’s attention immediately. Your intro has to give the reader a feel of the movie. For example:
‘Despite a cracking soundtrack and an inspiring performance by Olumide, Late Last Night never gets past its weak plot and poor dramatic personae’.
‘Despite a growing agitation for same-sex marriage, not everyone understands its effects on our societal values like the characters of Flip Gender’.
Express your opinions and back up your criticism: some readers will rely on your review to decide if they should go ahead and watch the movie or save their precious time and money, so endeavour to give your thoughts and observations in your review. State why you are criticising an element in the movie and support your critique with valid facts. For example:
‘Flip Gender is a great movie that clearly mirrors the effects of same-sex marriage on our societal values. The characters, costumes, settings, and scenes made the movie worth viewing over and over again’.
‘It doesn’t matter how much you love politics, with Elections Day, you will be better off if you save your precious time and money doing something worthwhile’.
Create a thesis based on your findings: after thoroughly going through the movie, identify the unique insights you intend to bring to the fore. Come up with a central message or idea you want to highlight, and support it with some elements in the movie. This will move your review beyond a summary to film criticism. You can consider the following question to form the basis of the thesis for your review:
- Does the movie portray or depict a contemporary issue? Is it the producer’s way of engaging in a wider conversation about an issue in public debate? Relate the film to a real-life situation.
- Does the movie have a central message, or is the producer trying to wipe out public sentiment? Highlight if the movie has hit or missed its mark on either side of the divide.
- Does the movie connect with you or the audience on a personal level or not? You can write your review based on your feelings or perception of the film. You can also infuse some personal experience into the review to make it more interesting to read.
Be concerned about your audience: consider who you are writing the review for. If it’s a third-party writing, create a balance between pleasing your client and your client’s audience. At Sabi Writers, we ensure we balance both. We take into consideration who our client’s audience is; is it a national daily, box office, teen magazine, or fan site? Ensure your writing style and language is suitable for who you are writing for. Knowing your audience will help you determine the elements you should highlight in the movie.
Be armed with the cast portfolio: some people will watch a movie just because their favourite actor is featured in it. Spend a considerable time highlighting the performance of a veteran taking up a new role, the good performance of a rising star, and the brilliant performance of the cast despite a wishy-washy script. Spend a little time talking about the performance of the lead actors and whether they were able to do justice to their assigned roles or not. Commend the casts where they did well, mention where they were below par, and recommend how they could have done better.
Throw the spotlight on the directors, special effects, cinematographers, etc.: let your readers know the superb performance as well as the flaws of the directors, costume designers, makeup artists, cinematographers, etc. Highlight what they did well, where they astounded the audience, as well as where they disappointed the audience etc.
Avoid spoilers: as you are writing your movie review, remember that you are writing to propel people to watch the movie and not to ruin it. Give your readers an insight into the movie plot and strive to make a case for them to watch the movie.
Study other professionals: the importance of reading cannot be overemphasised in a writer’s life. Read other film reviews and observe what the reviewer did that you like and what you don’t like. Look for a leaf you can borrow from the reviewer and avoid the red flags you found. Read the publications you want your review to be published to serve as a template for writing your review.
Read and edit your work: your views on a movie will not be taken seriously if the cast names are not well-spelt. Ensure that actors’ names and the various locations you captured in your review are well-spelt. Check your work for grammatical and mechanical accuracy, and ensure your review is not devoid of organisational flow.
Hone your voice: every writer has a distinct and unique way of writing. However, finding your voice in writing does not happen overnight. So be deliberate about developing your own voice and style that will become the signature of your craft and keep your reader returning to your page.
A professional writer is expected to have a critical mind, so next time you watch a movie, be conscious of every element in the film and factor how you can critically analyse it for readers through your review.
However, if you need to write a movie review and you don’t have the time to do so, you can contact us at +234 810 374 1847. Our team of writers will take the burden of writing off you.