How to Write a Film and Movie Review Assignment for College Examples

Of the different forms of art in existence today: paintings, music, literature, etc. none may be more impactful than films. Movies present a visual and interactive display of how we view the world. They teach, inform, warn, and entertain us in ways that other artworks cannot.

As such, it is no marvel that students can be assigned to write movie reviews. Writing a movie review can help you develop compositional and analysis skills that are vital to your academic success.

In this article, you will understand how to write a movie review and different analytical strategies to the same effect.

What is a Movie Review?

It is a critical assessment of the technical and thematic content of a film with and your opinion about it.

Films are considered as works of art. As you evaluate a movie, you will have to consider both its structural and creative aspects. Only such an approach will produce a comprehensive review.

Writing a movie review allows you to criticize its overall quality and determine if the film is worth recommending or not. Film reviews can vary from about 600-1200 words in length, and require some preliminary actions.


Before viewing the film, you may want to get an overall feel of the director, writer, or a particular actor. This is because when you watch several movies by the same director or writer, you acquire a sense of their style. This may enable you to determine whether a specific work is a continuation or a disruption of their general trend.

When writing the review of a movie, you may need to view it several times. You will want to watch it for about two to three times.

In the first viewing, immerse yourself in the cinematic experience. It is okay to get lost in the narrative at this point without worrying about developing any argument.

When you view it the second time, separate yourself from the plot and focus on the elements that you can assess in your review. Some of these elements are lighting, cinematography, editing, mise-en-scene, genre, thematic content, scene-setting, etc.

As you watch, take notes on the elements that you identify. After this, look for a central concept for your review that can tie the film’s parts together. If you do not arrive at a strong idea that you can use to form an argument, view the film a third time and take further notes.

Writing Your Movie Review

As you write your review, you will need a structure to help organize your paper appealingly. As such, your review will include:

1.     Introduction

Your opening paragraph is where you should provide general information concerning the film you are reviewing. You should identify:

  1. The name of the film
  2. The year of release,
  3. The movie director,
  4. The screenwriter, and
  5. Main actors

This passage should also house the central concept of your review, which can be in the form of a thesis statement. It should also state how you plan to assess the movie.

2.     Plot Summary

Keep in mind that film review readers may not have seen the movie. So, you should provide a plot summary.

3.     Description

After giving your reader a general sense of what the movie entails, you should include a detailed description of your cinematic experience.

You may state your general impression of the film. Your description should involve the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the movie.

4.     Analysis

This is the section where you explore the techniques and themes used in the film’s construction. You may need to highlight how the elements affect the movie and how it influences your perception of it.

5.     Evaluation and Conclusion

The final paragraph of your movie review should remind the reader of your primary thoughts of the film. You could state whether you recommend the movie or not.

If making any suggestion, reiterate to the reader why or not you think the film is worth watching.

Analysis of Movie Elements

In this section, we will go through some common approaches to movie analysis. Before delving into assessing these elements, you should understand your instructor’s requirements and expectations. They will guide you in how you assemble your work.

Your movie review essay may simultaneously include all of the approaches we will discuss or more.

1.     Semiotic Analysis

This is the analysis of the meaning of various signs and symbols. It usually focuses on the use of metaphors, analogies, and symbolic expressions.

In this type of assessment, you should try to establish some inferences about the characters from small hints that reveal more information concerning them. Explore how these hints help in character development or the relationships between multiple characters.

In films, symbols can be useful in denoting concepts such as freedom and tranquility. They can also evoke particular feelings. Both literature and film creators use symbolism to communicate their ideas.

You may attempt to identify the objects or images that recur across different scenes. When you point them out, establish the context in which they appear. Try to find the meaning behind these objects or particular actions.

2.     Analysis of the Narrative Structure

This refers to the study of story elements like plot structure, character drives, and theme. Films usually follow the Three-Act Structure:

  1. Act 1: Setup
  2. Act 2: Confrontation
  3. Act 3: Resolution

Using a narrative structure analysis, you can break the story of the movie into these three facets. As you do so, investigate whether the story follows or deviates from the standard structure.

Identify the effect produced by either following or deviating from the structure. Also, determine the theme of the movie and how it is established.

3.     Contextual Analysis

This is the assessment of the movie in connection with a broader context. Consider the time, place, and cultural aspect of the movie. Are there any significant movements or influences that characterize the film’s setting?

You may also explore how the meaning of the film could change outside of the cultural setup.

4.     Mise-en-scene Analysis

This refers to the evaluation of the arrangement of the elements that comprise a movie. In essence, it is the examination of the audiovisual components that make it differ from a literary work.

The crux of mise-en-scene analysis is explaining the significance of the audiovisual elements. These elements can include costumes and props, lighting, special effects, music, character placements, etc.

This type of analysis is specific to films and cannot apply to literary works. It determines how elements are used to establish mood, character personality, and hidden messages.


In the world today, films have a significantly influential position. They can be used to communicate a variety of concepts to people engagingly and entertainingly. Writing a film review gives you a sneak peek into the strategies used and the purpose the creators had.

When writing a movie review, remember to watch the movie at least twice. Consider the compositional elements used, as well as the impact they have. Evaluate these components through the various analytical strategies and write an outstandingly organized piece.

How to Write a Great Movie Review Step by Step

1. Formulate a catchy introduction where you provide general information concerning the film.
2. Provide a plot summary for your readers
3. Include a detailed description of your cinematic experience as you offer general impression of the film.
4. Explore the techniques and themes used.
5. In the evaluation and conclusion paragraphs, remind the reader of your primary thoughts of the film and state whether you recommend the movie or not.

What is a Movie Review?

Writing a movie review allows you to criticize its overall quality and determine if the film is worth recommending or not. Film reviews can vary from about 600-1200 words in length, and require some preliminary actions.

What are different types of essays

How to Write a Reflective Essay

How to Write a Narrative Essay

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