The Ultimate Guide To Writing A Movie Review Essay

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Are you attempting to write a movie review essay? Despite its popularity, most students often fail to compose an engaging and well-constructed review essay. That’s because the majority of the students lack reporting skills, which is crucial to writing a film review essay. 

Furthermore, writing a movie analysis essay gets tricky because students must consider several additional factors exclusive to film analysis. Although writing a review is not very difficult, it has its peculiarities that must be kept in mind. This article will educate you on writing an excellent movie review essay and avoiding common errors.

But, before going through the steps, let us cover some basic concepts such as – what is a movie review? What is the primary purpose of writing a movie review essay, and how to compose a review essay outline?

What is a Movie Review?

A movie review is a thorough analysis of a film or documentary and belongs to the genre of journalism and art criticism. It entails methodical analysis, research, and structured reporting of the writer’s opinions. In short, it is a complex overview of a movie by the writer.

Whether or not the reader has seen the film, the writer assumes the role of educating them. In fact, many individuals read movie reviews before deciding whether or not to see a film.  

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Thus, when a student is given a movie review essay assignment, it tests their critical thinking and reporting abilities. The task further assesses their ability to write logically, concisely, lucidly, and creatively.

Note: Please remember that the movie review essay from a professional reviewer will be more detailed, informative, and structured than the amateur reviewer. So, if you cannot write like a professional, do not fret, but practice more so that you can achieve the expert’s level of writing.

We shall help you develop a concise and well-structured review in this post. Just follow our guide to writing an entertaining film review.

Film review outline

Developing an outline is crucial for writing essays, and a film review essay is no exception. An outline will assist you in correctly organizing your thoughts and help you write faster. Furthermore, it also assists you in covering all the main points that you intend to write about. 

Usually, an essay has three parts – introduction, body, and conclusion. The same will be applied to movie review essays too. However, the body section will have sub-divisions that discuss various aspects of the film. Below is the movie review outline that you can follow:


In this section, you must offer general information about the film, such as the title, release date, filmmakers, principal actors, film company, and budget.


This is a brief synopsis of the film’s plot, characters, and interactions.

Film analysis:

This section includes an analysis of the plot and creative elements of the movie and the topic or theme of the film

Plot elements analysis:

What is the starting or initial point of the movie, its rising action, and its climax? 

Creative elements analysis:

Here, various aspects such as characters, dialogue, camera techniques, and the use of colors are analyzed. Additionally, the symbols, mood, costumes, tone, and other elements are discussed. 

Topic/theme analysis and its implementation:

This section is concerned with the viewers’/audience’s understanding of the topic, its relevance, and comparison with other similar works.


This section deals with your point of view or opinion supported by examples and facts from the story.


Discuss whether the filmmaker was successful. Explain how the movie helped you better understand the course topic.

The purpose of writing a movie review

There are specific goals involved in writing a film review essay which we will below. Knowing the purpose of the review helps the reader understand the movie review better.

To discuss the plot briefly:

One can use it to share information about the movie characters, situations, twists, turning points, etc. briefly. However, it is never explained in elaborate detail.

To analyze the movie:

Reviews are used to analyze a few aspects of the movie, such as the director’s work, acting, music, theme, and special effects. It presents an objective view of the movie.

Opinion sharing:

You can share your opinion by specifying what you like or dislike about the movie using reviews. This helps the audience to understand and make a decision about the movie.

Provide recommendations:

A review is a perfect gateway to express what the audience can expect from the movie. In fact, most reviewers analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the movie and usually pass a verdict on it by recommending or not recommending it.

For entertainment:

One cannot deny the factor that reviews can be entertaining and quite engaging. So you may write a review just for fun and entertainment.

Step by Step process on how to write a movie review

Writing a movie review entails more than simply urging people to watch or avoid a film. It includes several procedures that, when completed, result in a thorough review. A rough outline of the procedures are as given below:

  • Watch the movie
  • Make notes on what you saw
  • Break the movie into various elements such as:
    • Direction
    • Acting
    • Production design
    • Cinematography
    • Theme
    • Screenwriting
    • Editing 
  • Construct your opinion

The steps mentioned above are not really complicated, but writing a movie review has its quirks that need to be handled well. Here are the points that a good film review should have:

  • Bibliographic information about the movie
  • Concise characterization
  • Plot description without spoilers
  • Description of leading actors and other key characters
  • Evaluation of the movie theme, setting, conflicts, etc. in detail
  • Comparison with other similar movies
  • An overall analysis of the movie

Note: Before composing a film review, it is necessary to know proper movie review formatting. You must know how to organize the content in the proper format, structure, style, and formatting. Here are the steps to writing an effectual film review:

Select a movie:

It is possible that you might be assigned a movie to review. However, if you have the option to choose, carefully consider which film you want to evaluate. Although most of us would undoubtedly select one of our favorites, you may write about one you dislike and explain why. This approach could be refreshing and earn you extra marks.

Watch the movie:

Even if you’ve seen a movie in the past, watch it again to uncover new subtleties and better understand the characters and their motivations. Viewing a film at least twice, preferably three times, is recommended. 

That’s because one usually focuses on the major characters, storyline, and emotions in the first watch. A second watch helps the reviewer notice tiny character and story nuances, such as music, costumes, and other aspects. All of these factors affect your perception of the movie and critique.

Compile notes:

Make a note of things you notice in the movie. Please list all the ideas that come to mind while watching the movie or once you are done seeing it.

Conduct research:

Learn everything you can about the movie as much as possible. Is it a retelling, a news story, or a remake? Did the book inspire the plot of the movie? What was the budget of the movie? How has the film’s cast evolved over the process? Choose 2 or 3 of the most remarkable production facts and encompass them in your work.

It is recommended that you know a little bit about the film’s background so that you will be able to enjoy it more. Moreover, if you don’t understand the movie, you can’t proceed to the following level, which entails analysis. Ensure that the following will be researched well:

  • Genre
  • Title
  • Lead actors names
  • Director name
  • Book title (if based on a book)

Analyze the movie:

Consider everything you watched in the movie and form an opinion on it. Is there any social context in the movie? What was the film’s original concept/subject, and how efficient were the producers in putting it into action? Please take note of how it was shot and what techniques were used. 

Always start your analysis once you understand the movie entirely. Examine the film critically from beginning to conclusion, noting every aspect. If you noticed any puzzling parts when analyzing, re-watch to grasp the notion presented there correctly. To create an effective movie analysis, you must first comprehend how to write a film critique.

Draft an outline:

Create an overview of your work before writing the honest movie review to structure all of your thoughts and arguments. That’s because the overview will assist you in organizing your review concisely and logically. 

In short, the outline acts as a skeletal framework for the entire review that helps improve the quality of the film review. You can refer to the movie review outline given in the above section. 

Come up with a catchy title:

Always try to develop interesting titles for your reviews. My review for XYZ’s movie sounds bland. However, a catchy title creates a positive impression and makes the reader curious about what you want to say about a specific movie. 

Enhance the review with examples:

Your observations mentioned in the review must be supported with examples. For instance, you can mention certain scenes where the incident occurred. You can point out poorly formed characters, and plots backed up with examples. In short, document your analysis in the film review.

Compose your review:

After completing your research and preparing your outline, it’s time to put it all together and write a review. Arrange all of your ideas and arguments that stick to the outline you created earlier. 

Create a general synopsis of the film so that the audience/readers can understand what challenges can arise from it. However, don’t give away the ending because they may not have seen it yet. Write down the main elements you liked and disliked. 

Use evidence and examples to corroborate your points. Comment on the film’s originality and equate it with others in the same genre, on the same theme, or directed by the same person.

Make each section simple and exciting to read. Compose an interesting introduction that grabs the reader’s attention. Have a spectacular and solid opening that keeps the reader hooked to your review. Continue the body section in the same manner and keep it informative and engaging to the audience. Do not make it overly biased, and don’t use a preachy tone. 

Finally, connect the conclusion with the introduction and present your view on the movie without being too vague. The reader must never be confused about your point of view.

Edit and proofread the draft:

Once done with writing the review, take a break or a little break before rereading it. This helps you to come back with a fresh mind and outlook. Review the draft and check for grammatical errors, formatting errors, sequence of presentation, compliance with the outline, and professor’s demands.

Check the word count and reduce them if they are too many; if not, add relevant content to make them up. Make no unnecessary additions for the sake of writing. Ensure that your final draft is completely polished, well-edited, free of plagiarism, and submitted in the recommended format or style.

Mistakes to avoid when composing a movie review

Now that you understand how to write a movie review be aware of some common mistakes that you must avoid. We have combined a list of mistakes that you can refer to when composing your review.

Giving out spoilers:

You may now know that spoilers are not usually included in movie reviews. However, some reviews may require you to give out spoilers. In cases such as these, never forget to include a warning. 

Several reviews warn that they contain spoilers at the beginning. Forgetting to include this warning is one of the fundamental mistakes that may not sit well with your readers. Thus, just enclose a warning in bold and large font so that the reader will know whether to proceed or not.

Skip retelling the story:

The primary purpose of the movie review is to give an opinion on the movie. So, retelling the whole movie doesn’t meet the purpose of the review. As a review writer, you have to be critical in your review but not descriptive. 

Please note that introducing the characters, briefing the plot, and analyzing the technical aspects is good, but revealing the story from beginning to end is simply incorrect.

Limit your comparison:

Some reviews go on and on about how the film varies or is similar to the source material. This may work for people who have already read the book; however, it doesn’t agree with those who haven’t read it. Try not to be affected by the similarities between the source and the film.

Not conducting proper research:

You should always conduct comprehensive research before starting the review. If you ignore this section, you risk giving the readers incorrect interpretations and leading them astray. 

Do not get too personal:

A film review should strive to provide an analytical summary. It is unavoidable to be slightly subjective. You should, however, avoid becoming too personal. It will damage the reading experience of the readers. 


All things considered, writing a review is not a cakewalk, but it is not overly tricky too. Just follow the tips given in this post as a reference. Refer to the outline and steps given in this post to compose a watertight movie review that is informative and engaging.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 7 basic steps to writing a movie review?

The 7 steps to writing an effective movie review are – watching the movie, compiling notes, researching the movie, analyzing the movie, drafting the outline, composing a review, and proofreading the review. 

What is the movie review format?

The movie review format is the map to compose a well-structured film review. It helps improve the quality of the movie review and simplifies the process of writing it. Here is the format of the movie review that you can follow:

  • Introduction
  • Summary
  • Film analysis
  • Opinion on the movie
  • Conclusion

What makes a good movie review?

Several essential elements make a good movie review that can earn you appreciation by your readers when included. You must include the plot, summary, analysis of the movie (including technical aspects), 

How do you write a movie criticism?

To write a movie critique, you should use the same processes and tactics described in this article about writing a movie review. This term is frequently used interchangeably with the word “film review.” A movie criticism, in a nutshell, is a peer-reviewed erudite study that analyzes and assesses films and their medium.

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