What to Look for in Film Reviews

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There are hundreds of thousands of websites and blogs dedicated to film reviews. There is a romanticism to the idea that anyone can create their own blog and write to their hearts content. While there is a certain beauty in democratization, one should tread lightly. Bloggers who write movie reviews may write too much plot overview or fail to properly explain their position on a certain film. Finding quality film criticism can be difficult on the internet today and this article will argue that some of the best film reviews are few and far in between, but will also provide a few pointers on what to look for in a good review.

When reading film reviews, there are few things to look for. First, how does the reviewer describe the plot? Is the entire review revolving around the plot? Are there specific scenes described down to every detail? Amateur reviewers have difficulty distinguishing a film review from plot summary. If the plot is discussed longer than one paragraph, then the review is of low quality. Many bloggers will have little discerning of what is a spoiler and what is not. A good critic will report what they see and actively attempt to understand what is going on or try to interpret the film. This goes for popular fare or art films.

Readers who are looking for film reviews are not specifically looking to see if a movie is worth seeing. Often times they may be looking for an interpretation of the film. Perhaps they did not get the movie entirely. A good critic will read between the lines of a film and accurately convey the meaning of a film to the audience. This requires the critic to be up-to-date on culture and politics, and have a firm understanding of film history and issues. Knowing the age of a critic is good indicator of how wise they may be. If a critic is far too young, their life experiences and their lack of knowledge can prevent them seeing the emotional and literary depth of a work of art. Does the film represent a trend in culture? Is it a political film? How is a film an allusion to another text? A good critic will see these links and interpret a film based on this information.

The variety of films reviewed by a critic is also important. If a critic or blogger is only writing about one specific genre or films with a certain target, it shows that the individual is unwilling to branch out of a specific type of film. However, there are websites and blogs dedicated to specific type of film. These niche websites are just fine, but it is important to understand that variety is important. Look for film critics who review movies from a variety of genres, from different countries, and about different themes. It shows that they are well informed about the trends of contemporary films and are willing to learn and explore the cultural landscape.

The diction within film reviews is also an indicator of a good critic. I have seen so many reviews where the critic at hand will use words like “interesting”, “cool”, or “awesome”. These words do not deliver the weight necessary to give accurate information about a film to the reader. If a film is indeed interesting, then the critic should explain what factors do so and how the factors support the art.


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