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How to Write a Movie Critique

The Definition of a Movie Critique

Let us start with a movie critique definition. In a nutshell, a movie critique involves examining film at a deep level in order to analyze the crucial scenes and dialogues, the movie director’s motives for making the movie, the purpose of the characters and their behaviors, and even the soundtrack. While film criticism is fair game, the purpose of movie critique writing is not necessarily to bash a movie or find faults just to be cynical. In fact, you might determine that the movie is absolutely amazing. The point is that as you write a movie critique, you need to provide evidence by pointing out certain scenes or even movie speech, dialogues that support your arguments.


Movie Critique Review Differences

There is some confusion regarding the differences between a movie critique and movie review. However, they are not interchangeable concepts. When writing a movie critique paper, you are expected to examine a movie in great depth. This means the guidelines on how to critique a movie extend beyond writing a short story plot outline. You are studying, interpreting and evaluating the movie in terms of its place in the broader cinema context. A movie critique involves a great amount of research as well since you would be expected to provide background on the filmmaker (both personal and professional) and be able to compare this film to other movies of the same genre in order to measure its worth. In fact, the critique can even discuss the actors’ work behind the scenes or secrets of Hollywood. For instance, at the peak of his career Robert De Niro went to extremely levels to get into his roles, even gaining 60 pounds between different episodes of Raging Bull in order to truly capture the look of a washed out boxer. This kind of dedication would be used as an example of the great lengths that actors are willing to go for the sake of realism.

By contrast, a movie review serves an entirely different purpose. For one thing, It differs from the movie critique structure in that it isn’t an academic paper. Instead, it is generally a brief article that is much shorter. Furthermore, a review is typically written as a movie is about to be released (while a critique could conceivably be written decades later) and serves as a recommendation for potential moviegoers as opposed to scholarly discourse.

How to Write a Movie Critique: Basic Guidelines

The following is how you would write a proper movie critique format.


Provide some basic info about the film (i.e., year, main actors, director, awards, notable songs)

Aside from informing the reader about the movie, you would also discuss why this film is worth critiquing. For instance, it could be that the movie is universally regarded as a classic. Perhaps it was innovative or even changed cinema forever.


Tell about the background of the story

You would want to provide a short story outline of the movie, highlighting the moments that are of consequence. Discuss the plot elements. If you find that the movie was deeply flawed, you would want to explain why and explain what could have been done to make it better. Of course, you cannot simply argue that the movie was poorly written because it is self-evident. Instead, you would go into details about the nonsensical plot, confusing dialogue, the character’s wooden acting, etc.

Define movie characters and what happens to them

Along the same lines, the movie characters drive the movie. You would want to address how developed they are. Do they have personalities? What accounts for their actions? Is their style of dress, intonation, and overall acting consistent with what is is going on on the big screen? Perhaps the characters are defying their arch types (i.e., Princess Leia in Star Wars being a brave fighter as opposed to a helpless damsel in distress). Keep in mind that not every character has to be deep. Some of them are only intended to serve the purpose of advancing the plot through their fists as opposed to their wits.

Discuss the structure and plot in detail

The plot of the movie is the progression of events and actions that lead up to the final conclusion. It is important to examine the plot from a couple of angles. For example, how do the parts of the movie link together? Is there logic to how the plot is built? Is the story entirely predictable? If there were surprising moments, were they crafted in a clever way or were the plot twists implausible and silly? Were there plot holes?

Note that the movie should ultimately build up to a climax, after which there is a resolution that neatly wraps things up (or deliberately leaves the audience guessing). As you critique, you should ask yourself whether the ending was satisfying or if it felt like a letdown.

Structure of a critique

The movie critique outline is consistent with most academic essays. You would start with an introduction in which you briefly discuss the main details about the film, summarize the plot, state your thesis, and explain its relevance. Next, you will have several body paragraphs in which you lay out your points. Make sure to use clear examples from the movie. Your will finish off with a conclusion.


The conclusion should summarize what you have written along with the results of your critique. You should also restate your thesis. You want the reader to feel as though reading your paper was worth their time, so you should provide some kind of take away or explain why it is important to critique both this movie and film in general. In particular, you might tell them that by examining the movie at a deeper level, they can develop a greater appreciation for it.