Film Commentary Essay Tips

In order to evaluate something, you need to compare it with the best example of that particular thing. So, to help you develop your topic into an essay, there are two important questions to ask when you are choosing your topic to evaluate:

  • First question: What category of a thing is it?
  • Second question: What is the ideal example of something in that category?

Example: McDonald's

What category is it?For the best evaluation essay, you want to compare your topic with things that are very similar, so try to narrow the category as much as possible. To get there, you want to keep on asking the question, "What kind is it?" What category does McDonald's fit into?

Answer to first question: Restaurant. (What kind of restaurant?) Fast food restaurant. (Better, but what kind of fast food?) Hamburger-serving fast food restaurant. (This is what you want!)

So if you were evaluating McDonald's, you would want to compare it to other fast food restaurants that mostly serve hamburgers.

Now the second question: What is the ideal example of something in that category? What makes that example better than others? Thinking about what you consider to be the very best example of something in the category of what you are reviewing can help you decide what criteria you will use, and also what judgement you can make. For example, here is a list of criteria my students have come up with for an ideal burger fast food restaurant:

  • looks clean
  • serves food fast
  • makes it easy to order
  • has great fries
  • has options on the menu
  • offers large drinks with free refills
  • serves juicy burgers with lots of grease
  • doesn't cost a lot of money

No two people will come up with exactly the same list, but most restaurant reviews look at the following criteria:

  1. service
  2. atmosphere
  3. food
  4. value

Answer to second question: A great fast food burger joint offers great service, atmosphere, and food at a fair cost.

Now you know what your paper is going to be about how close McDonald's comes to this ideal.

Content of this article

  1. Movie review writing guide
  2. Forrest Gump analysis (example)
  3. Review structure
  4. Polishing
  5. More examples
  6. Movie related essay samples

1. Movie Review Writing

A lot of people like movies and films. These things add thrill and imaginations to our lives. This, therefore, makes us come to the conclusion that a movie is worth a review if it has been watched. Everyone has a different opinion on the movies they watch – the ratings can range from being great to good or even bad. Thought there are an increasing number of movie sites available on the Internet (some of which are authoritative, others less so (more below)), movie reviews and reviewers are still very much in demand for their own unique takes on a movie. The different types of reviewers can offer different types of writing, which is something that is good in a market which is rapidly becoming over-saturated. Everyone can review a movie, but there are still some differences between the reviewing done by experts, and reviewing done by amateurs – the amateurs are not usually focused on the minutiae of the film in the same way, and are instead focused more on the general ideas presented.

The primary purpose of movie review writing is to give the reader a rough idea of what the movie is about. The movie review greatly determines if an individual wants to watch the movie or not. This type of writing should, therefore, be detailed enough to assist the reader in making an honest decision. As much as the review is based on elaborating the movie review outline, it should not give away the plot of the movie or the surprises that make the movie enjoyable. Opinions on a movie need to be stated clearly, good or bad. If the review is to be brief, stars and scores can also be used to express the reviewer’s thoughts. A good writer should, therefore, have the basic knowledge of how to write a movie review.

Examples include:

  • Great movie: Almost Christmas is a movie that has balanced all its features to make a great movie. All the characters fit their roles and make the plot come to life. The costumes and the soundtracks are a plus as they enhance the emotions and feelings of every story line. Almost Christmas is, therefore, a movie worth watching.
  • Good movieLondon has Fallen is an okay movie. The graphics were on point as well as the sound effects. The cast, however, I felt weren’t up to the task, and did not bring out the feel of the movie. The actors, therefore, led to what was otherwise quite a good time-killing movie (if not a good movie overall) being let down. Additionally, the plot was difficult to comprehend.
  • Bad movieNo matter how much you watch Central Intelligence, you can’t get a hold of the movie. The stunts are overrated, and the storyline is off, making the movie boring. The movie is a definite no, and not even worth spending time watching when there is nothing else to watch on TV. Definitely a flop.

2. Complete analysis (Forrest Gump)

  • Plot analysis: the movie falls in the genre of modern fiction (modern history is generally considered to stretch from the fifteenth century up, although this category is further divided into early modern (1500s to 1700s) and late modern (1700s to present), with Tom Hanks playing the role of Forrest Gump. His character moves through history and survives all the hardships with decency and honesty.
  • Soundtrack analysis: the soundtrack reflects the mood that was popular at the time, which, in turn, creates urgency. The songs are great hits and are appropriate for children to listen to as well. The soundtrack helps to illustrate the transitions of the film’s locations – from warm and safe territory to a more hostile borders. For instance, the song by Fleetwood (Go Your Way) is used to illustrate how Forrest is joined by his friends in his journey. The soundtrack is an integral part of the movie experience, as it brings an emotional centre-point to the move by helping people to better understand just how high the stakes are in certain scenes. The soundtrack is also to convey the terrifying nature of the war scenes, thus helping the movie to pack even more of an emotional punch.
  • Atmosphere: later on in the movie, the atmosphere changes – the troops go out on patrol and are far away from their bases which are safe. The atmosphere becomes tense, and at the same time captivating. Having the atmosphere change throughout a movie emphasises that what is happening is actually serious and will have consequences, and the movie Forrest Gump is no different. If the atmosphere is incorrect, then, the movie will not feel so real to the people who are watching it. the movie starts with the atmosphere of the beach party. Music is playing in the background, and people are enjoying barbecue and playing cards. The troops are not left behind as they are seen loading crates of beers in their trucks.
  • The main idea of the film: The main idea portrayed in Forrest Gump is that life is filled with unknown surprises. This is substantially illustrated by Forrest Gump himself, who is just a country boy with learning difficulties. Forrest, however, does not let this obstacle define him, and goes to great lengths to be a relevant person in history. The film, while containing some darkness and violence due to the war and its aftermath, is therefore an uplifting and invigorating film, as it shows how people can prevail against all odds, and even thrive. A film needs to have one (or possibly two, though more is of course harder to maintain) main idea if it is to remain coherent throughout.
  • Actors play analysis: Tom Hanks fits the role perfectly as he manages to express the love for the country. He portrays the feelings of sadness and comedy at the same time. Forrest, therefore, makes the movie interesting. Tom Hanks is a strong actor, and it is mainly due to his efforts as the lead which make the film as powerful and memorable as it is.

3. Review structure

The structure of a movie review follows the basic steps of the introduction, the body (analysis), the recommendation and the movie review conclusion. A movie review writing guide gives the writer instructions on how to write a movie review. The movie review structure is as follows.

3.1 The introduction

A movie review should open up with an introduction. The introduction is the most appealing way of how to start a movie review, and contains the summary of the movie and opinion that will be stated. Movie review writing hooks give the readers a general feel of what will be illustrated in the review. The introduction for a movie review has to be appealing, so that the reader can get the feel of wanting to read more.

Give a brief illustration of what will be discussed in the review and then proceed to the thesis. Ensure that the thesis is original and at the same time based on the analysis. The thesis for a movie review should be compelling and reflect on a contemporary issue, while the argument should go beyond the plot and straight to the film criticism. Illustrate both the message of the movie and how the film connects to an individual.  The thesis paragraph can be followed up with a short summary plot. The section will also give an overview of what will be contained in the body.

3.2 Body paragraphs (analysis)

The analysis covers the fails and accomplishments within the movie, and also gives the writer a chance to express their feelings towards it. The cinematography, acting, the setting, and soundtrack can also be discussed in this section. Ensure that the writing is smooth and easy to comprehend. For the review to seem realistic and professional, present facts and opinions in the same page, and try to use examples that are descriptive in order to bring the plot to life. Dialogue snippets can and should be quoted to give the review snappiness. You can add a few movie review tips such as giving the language used some personality, in order to create a style which will reflect a unique perspective to entertain the reader.

3.3 Recommendation

A movie review structure can also have a recommendation. The recommendation gives the writers a chance to commend the film and decide if it’s worth the money.

3.4 Conclusion

The conclusion for a movie review should be in a position to be tied up with the thesis. The conclusion should also offer guidance of whether to watch the film or not. There are a number of ways of how to end a movie review. However, the most effective style is to make it compelling and at the same time entertaining.

4. Polishing the review

The review is polished through editing. The final content should go hand in hand with the movie review draft. Fine tune the review to ensure it is in line with the thesis. Ensure that the content has enough examples to back up the claims. You should also proofread the review to eliminate any spelling mistakes and errors that can be avoided – movie review writing needs to be precise and free of errors. Finally, share the review with friends and family and see if it has an impact on their opinions of the movie.

5. More examples

5.1 Martian review

5.2 The Shawshank Redemption review

5.3 Star Trek review

5.4 Man of Steel review

More movie related essay samples

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