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Write a film review of a movie playing on DVD.  Pick a movie you wouldn’t ordinarily see; if you like horror movies, pick a drama, or if you like action movies, pick a documentary.  Choose a movie with a little more meat on its bones – make your choice a discovery!

In the opening paragraph, create a lead in that grabs your reader’s interest.  You could write something about the films that you would ordinarily watch – horror, comedy, action, et al…films that lie in your comfort zone. Was the film you choose for this assignment a surprise or disappointment?  Your reason why should include your thesis.  In your thesis, pick one or two elements of filmmaking (acting or writing) that makes this film a success or failure in your eyes.  Here is an example of a strong thesis statement for this essay:  “Bridesmaids is a bold comedic work.  Its success is due to the smart, uproarious writing and the exceptional acting skills of its stars”.

            Write a brief summary of the film’s plot.  Keep this paragraph general and short!  We don’t need to read every detail of the story.  We don’t need to know how it ends.  If you have a DVD of a movie at home, look at the synopsis on the back of the case as an example.  It doesn’t tell you everything, right?  That’s how you should treat your summary here.  Keep to the main points.  If this paragraph is longer than 5-6 sentences, it is too long!

In the next section, you will go into more depth on how your chosen element or elements make the film effective or not effective as a movie.  Did these techniques work or not work for you?  Back those filmmaking elements up with supporting evidence (i.e. scenes from the film).  If you find you are discussing elements that are not in your thesis, either cut those passages or change your thesis.

If you are discussing both acting and writing, don’t crowd them all together!  Take them one at a time – one section at a time and one paragraph at a time.  This will also help you with the essay’s length requirements.  For example, if you discuss acting, don’t put all the actors and their scenes in one paragraph. Take one actor and his/her example scenes in one or two paragraphs.  Then take the 2nd actor you discuss and write a separate paragraph or two about his/her performance, and so on. Ask yourself in general what about this element makes the film a success or failure in your eyes?  Is this aspect important to the story or is it a distraction?  Make sure you mention the name of the person or persons responsible for that task.  For example, if you write about the characters of Pete and Debbie in Knocked Up, you should discuss the actors cast in those parts: Paul Rudd and Lesley Mann.  Make sure you back up your position with specific scenes from your chosen film.

 Pick a credible film critic (sources like Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic will help here) who holds an opposite view of your film. Be certain the critic is reviewing the same film elements you are.   Describe their position and then explain why that critic is wrong. Name the critic and the source he is writing for in the 1st section of this paragraph.  That will suffice as a citation.  Include a Works Cited page as well. 

 

This essay should be typed, double spaced, in MLA format, and a length of 2 to 2.5 full pages.  Avoid excessive punctuation and grammar mistakes, add transitions to paragraphs when needed, and organize your ideas in a clear, concise manner. 

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