This is a reposting of a classic how to write reviews article. Enjoy!
Reviewing is not quick. Reviewing is not easy. For those looking to make a quick buck without doing that much work should reconsider becoming a critic as their go to cash cow. Journalism is a much faster way to make coin with a lot less research/work needed to hand in an article.
If you want to help a writer become better. If you want to actually make a real difference in someone’s work. This is why you become a critic. Feedback is key to the growth of all writers. Most of the movies released in HTG are first drafts. It is true that some are better than others, but no movie script is perfect and all can use an audience and deserve feedback from the community. If someone took the time to write a completed script, whether it is 9 pages or 150 pages, it deserves more than “I hated this movie” or “I loved this movie”. Both of those general comments are useless.
After you finish a movie, please keep these tips in mind when writing your review. First of all, remember to be very detailed and include FEEDBACK on how the writer can improve the script in future drafts. Never have a statement that is not explained. For example, if you state a general statement such as “The action was boring”, you need to back it up with details on why you feel that the action was boring and how it can be improved.
It is very easy to craft a decent review and provide a lot of feedback. Just like when you write a script, you can make your review based off a review outline. Here is my 7 paragraph review outline with details for each paragraph. I formed this outline after looking at a variety of great reviews (and reviewers). If you are a new critic, I highly recommend you following this format to a T. Please post any questions that you might have in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.
Paragraph 1 – Creative:
Talk about the movie poster, website, advertising (if you were around for it). Judge how it is and how you feel it connects to the story. Does it give you the right vibe for the script? Is it out of place? Does it look like a lot of time was spent on the poster/website or were they thrown together quickly. Does it improve the overall movie for you for take away from it?
Paragraph 2 – Cast:
Don’t just say the cast was good or bad. Talk about the casting decisions and the characters. Were the actors good fits to bring them to life? Could you picture them? What characters stood out the most, which needed to be improved? Were too many of characters the same? Take time to talk about the actors and the characters. They deserve more than one throw away sentence.
Paragraph 3 – Spelling/Grammar/Format:
What format was this movie? Script? Prose? Picture book? Play format? Was the chosen format done correctly? Did it add or take away from the movie? Do you think they should try to write this in the different format? Did any spelling mistakes or bad grammar stand out? Was the use of language appropriate for the movie.
Paragraphs 4/5/6 – Story:
Give us an overview of the film (feel free to include spoilers). Insert your thoughts on the story as you go. This happened and it was good because… This happened and it was bad because. You don’t have to give a beat by beat breakdown of the script, but give people enough details to know the story from just your review. If you do not like a part of the story, be very clear about that AND give the writer suggestions on how to make it better. Never just say something is bad, say it can be improved and let them know an idea or two on how to improve it. If a script is in sections with shorts (like “Major Crimes”, “In 3D”, and “Fear Itself” for example) make a new paragraph for each short and talk about them story-wise as individual pieces.
Paragraph 7 – Feedback/Overall:
This should be one of the most important paragraphs in the review. Give the writer a last piece of advice to improve the script and give an overall assessment of the script in a nutshell.
Lastly I have two very big pieces of advice. One, proofread your reviews. You can’t properly judge someone else’s spelling/grammar if you aren’t watching your own. You’d lose any and all credibility. Second, and this is just as important as the first one. Never. Never. Never put personal insults in your review. There is absolutely no place for them. They don’t provide the writer with any helpful or constructive feedback and they are just plain rude. Also, don’t try to be witty and insult the script/writer in creative ways. Saying the script is like the jelly of your toes is unnecessary, saying it makes you want to throw up or kill yourself shows that you don’t have the maturity to be a critic and you should NOT be reviewing.
Thank you for your time, I hope that you find these tips useful. I’d love to see the reviews on the Critic’s Corner get better and better. Let me know if you tried out the 7 Paragraph Review and how it worked for you!