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Film Review Essay Rubric For Middle School

  • Snippets of various movies geared for students
  • Equipment for viewing movies (TV and DVD player, computer and projector, etc.)
  • "I'm Noticing..." Graphic Organizer printable
  • Movie Notes Graphic Organizer printable
  • Movie Review Rubric printable
  • Optional: Sample Student-Friendly Movie Reviews printable
  • Optional: Popcorn
  • Optional: Movie camera, green screen, and a free trial of ULead Video program for a class production
  1. Use the site Rotten Tomatoes to compile a few reviews of movies that meet your students' interests. Make a handout of these reviews that you can print and hand out to students. You can also use my Sample Student-Friendly Movie Reviews printable.
  2. Once you have your collection of movie reviews, select one or two movies to watch in class. If you don't already own the movie, rent it from your local library. You will watch the movie (while referring back to the review) in Part 2.
  3. Important Disclaimer: Legally, you are not allowed to show entire movies in school without a license. My school, like many others, does not have a license. A legal alternative is to show short clips (10–15 seconds) for stated learning purposes.

  4. Make class sets of the "I'm Noticing..." Graphic Organizer, the Movie Notes Graphic Organizer, and the Movie Review Rubric printables.

Part 1: Lights — Setting Up the Scene

Assessment Note: This unit progresses in difficulty, building on writing food reviews to help students write movie reviews. You may find that less time is needed for modeling movie reviews vs. food reviews. Use formative assessment, body language, and level of interest as an indicator for time needed.

Also, know that the work you are displaying and discussing to your students serves as a model for what you will be assessing. Pick reviews that will inspire your students, but also be attainable when it comes to assessment!

Step 1: Review what makes a good food review by having students turn to a partner and discuss. Take a moment to record your thoughts and ideas as a class. Informally, you can assess what was retained from the last lesson.

Step 2: Set the stage by telling students that they will be venturing into the world of movie reviews. Ask students to raise their hand if they have ever read a movie review before. Have those students share their experience with the class.

Step 3: Introduce the popular site Rotten Tomatoes. If you are not familiar with this site, it combines many national reviews of a movie onto one page. Each review has an option for visitor comments, making this a wonderful resource for reviews. As with any site, I recommend looking for specific content beforehand.

Note: You may use my printable of Sample Student-Friendly Movie Reviews or take some time to find movies that meet your students' interests. You will want a handful of example reviews that will interest your students.

Step 4: Ask students to read and record their observations on the Sample Student-Friendly Movie Reviews (or your version), on post-it notes, or on the back of the handout. If you are completing the full unit, consider Review Unit folders for your students to store the Sample Student-Friendly Movie Reviews printable.

Step 5: Hold a discussion on what elements are present in this type of writing. Your students will notice setting, character development, and plot in most movie reviews.

Step 6: Create a chart with the class to record and organize this information. You may want to use the Movie Notes Graphic Organizer printable to organize your ideas. You can also create a Venn Diagram for comparison.

Step 7: Use this time to re-read the review and model your observations of the movie review. Use the language that you would like your students to be using for discussion.

Part 2: Camera — Narrowing the Lenses

Assessment Note: This step will vary greatly depending on your students' level of success with the food reviews. You may find that your students are ready for independent review writing quickly, so be ready to modify that based on your observations and student recordings. In addition, your expectations should be building from the food review writings. Individual conference notes will help document the growth through the unit study.

Step 1: Share your observations from the previous lesson by reading through some of the notes students recorded the day before. Emphasize the qualities they exude.

Step 2: Share a movie review that students are familiar with. Ask students to work in pairs to use their "lenses" for a discussion on what the author includes and does not include in their writing review. Students can record their findings on the "I'm Noticing..." Graphic Organizer. Use this time to informally assess your students' understandings. Their conversations should show growth from their work on food reviews.

Step 3: Because you have read the review beforehand, have the actual movie available for viewing. Due to license laws, start and stop portions of the movie to support the reviewer's writing. For example, if the movie reviewer points out a scene that is particularly well written (or poorly written), you can show this scene for discussion. If the author says a character is not believable, demonstrate a scene where the actor has important lines. Ask students whether they agree with the reviewer or not.

Step 4: Read through students' "I'm Noticing..." Graphic Organizers to gage where you need to go next. If you are happy with the responses, your students are ready for some independent writing. If not, try writing a movie review together, or in a small group, focusing on the elements of setting, character development, and plot.

Step 5: Ask students to start thinking about a movie they would like to write a review for.

Optional: If students need more time and exposure to writing, build that time in and share peer reviews for examples.

Part 3: Publish! — Ready for an Audience

Assessment Note: Traditional worksheets are not present in this unit of study. Instead, a focus on higher order thinking skills and assessment through application has been made. The premise being that some students can complete a skill in isolation but not carry it into application. Writing rubrics assess the application of learned skills through authentic pieces of writing.

Step 1: Ask students to share what movies they are interested in writing a review for. Set guidelines on appropriate movies, such as having a "G" rating. Decide, as a class, if there should be a limit to reviews per movie.

Step 2: Ask students to write freely for five minutes on their movie of choice. After five minutes are up, ask students to make sure setting, character development, and plot are included in their writing. Allow a few more minutes for students to build on what they have or include an element that is missing. Inform students that this is a form of prewriting and that it will be used for gathering and organizing their ideas for a published review.

Step 3: Pass out the Movie Review Rubric printable or create a rubric together. If you are creating your own as a class, narrow your conventions guidelines to 2–3 items that you have taught and students have had time to improve on. See the Movie Review Rubric printable for examples.

Step 4: Provide time for students to write a quality movie review. Use your writing conference time to meet with students individually, one on one.

Step 5: Include some time for peer review. Have students try the two stars, one wish method (two things they like, one thing to work on).

Step 6: Share your reviews in class with some popcorn. In the process, categorize movies by their genre during presentations.

Step 7: Assess the reviews with the Movie Review Rubric or the rubric you created as a class.

Step 8: Print and publish the movie reviews in your next classroom newsletter.

I hold individual conferences with my students as a resource to support differentiation for each student. Taking the information gathered from these conferences, as well as personal observations and student work/reflection, assessment is modified to meet individual needs.

  • Allow students to create a movie poster with their review and post them around school.
  • Video tape movie reviews with a blue screen and incorporate the setting into the background of an oral movie review.
  • Have students with the same reviewed movie hold a debate in the style of Thomas and Ebert and Roeper. Give the winner of the debate (of course voted by a thumbs up or thumbs down vote) a bag of popcorn.
  • Work with your local video store to see if movie reviews can be put on display.

We have a weekly newsletter and updated web site that contains all of our class happenings. A majority of my students have internet access at home, so I provide some of the online resources we view in class as an at home activity. Reviews will also be printed up for each student to take home to their family.

  • Using the gradual release of responsibility model, allow your students to show growth throughout the unit of study. Heavier consideration of learned skills will be placed on final versions after time has been given to experiment with conventions, style, and layouts.
  • Provide flexibility in your schedule. If your students take the interest somewhere not planned, be open to shifting reviews. For example, students may prefer to write about another form of entertainment.
  • Observation of language used at the beginning and end of the unit: Has it improved?
  • Various responses on post-it notes, self-reflection sheet, and tips learned in class
  • Small-group instruction and one-on-one conferences
  • Peer review
  • Review rubric with an option for student and teacher rating, as well as an area for written feedback
  • Oral reading of reviews: Does the student read with confidence?

NCTE Standards

  1. Students read a wide range of print to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world.
  2. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  3. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print.

The first thing you do after watching a movie is to go online and write a comment about it. Comments about movies are usually posted on social media profiles or public pages, review sites, blogs, among other platforms. Writing a movie review is a common assignment that students have to do in high school and college. Even though it may seem simple, movie reviews require time and proper organization. It’s not just about writing what happens on the screen, the review goes deeper than that. You can make the process easier with tools available online.

 

Movie Review Purpose

The main purpose of a movie review is to inform the reader about the film and its ideas. Seems simple, right? Reporting all events that happen and stating one’s opinion about them is a common mistake that many students make. While movie review allows writers to express their opinions about some film or documentary, there is also the need for the unbiased and objective approach. An ideal review combines both.

The review determines whether someone will want to see the movie. Even if the professor (or teacher) assigned a specific title and film to review, one should act like this is the perfect opportunity to introduce the cinematography work to their lecturer. Always assume they haven’t seen it before. As a result, it becomes easier to analyze events that happened on the screen.

Film review should be detailed enough to provide assistance in making an honest decision i.e. whether the reader wants to see it or if they’d like it. Why is this type of paper a common school assignment? Lecturers want to get more insight into a student’s critical thinking skills and the ability to report event (one or more of them) in a manner that others understand easily.

In addition, they want to assess the way you analyze plot and characters. After all, movie reviews also involve the analysis of events that happened in a documentary or “regular” film. Reviews test writing and vocabulary skills, adapting to different genres and events they portray, and your capacity to sum up some major work and report it in a cohesive, logical, and interesting manner.

While reviews entail more responsibility than initially thought, students find them fun and with this guide, you will too.

 

How to write a Good Movie Review

You have to write a movie review for school and now what? Where to start, how to make it look more “academic”? Today, we have the opportunity to use numerous tools to make every part of our lives easier, and movie review writing isn’t the exception. Throughout this tutorial, you’ll learn how to compose a report about some film and what tools to use to simplify the process.

Step-by-Step Guide to How to Write a Movie Review

Beginnings are always the hardest. This is the point where you set the pace and determine how to approach this assignment in the most efficient manner. Here are some useful tips to kick-start the movie review writing process:

  • Watch the movie or documentary twice and take notes of both major and minor events and characters. It’s a mistake to rely on the power of your memory only, there’s always something we overlook or forget
  • Carry out a thorough research. Watching the movie isn’t enough, research is equally important. Look for details such as the name of filmmaker and his/her motivation to make that film or documentary work, locations, plot, characterization, historic events that served as an inspiration for the movie (if applicable). Basically, your research should serve to collect information that provides more depth to the review
  • Analyze the movie after you watching it. Don’t start working on the review if you aren’t sure you understand the film. Evaluate the movie from beginning to an end. Re-watch it, if necessary, if you find some parts confusing. Only when you understand events that happened on the screen will you find it easier to create the review
  • Draft an outline that you will follow to write the review in a concise and cohesive fashion
  • Include examples for claims you make about the movie. If the plot has holes, then mention an example of a situation or scene when that was evident. Also, if the character(s) is poorly developed or bad casting affected the movie quality, name examples too. Provide examples when commenting dialogues, locations, plot, everything. If you want the reader to agree with you, it’s essential to back up your claims with evidence. You don’t want to make it seem like you’re praising or criticizing the movie without any reason whatsoever
  • Consider and comment a movie’s originality and quality of scenes. Explain how the movie stands out or whether it just uses the same approach that worked for previous works in the industry

Perfect Organization

Quality of your paper depends on the level of organization you implement. Never underestimate the importance of well-structured outline, regardless of the type of paper you have to write. Outlines help you focus on the subject and contribute to a logical flow.

In addition, getting things organized before you start writing is a great way to save time later on. Instead of trying to figure out what to include, you’ll have a well-structured plan to follow. It’s needless to mention you won’t be too stressed out. Here’s how to organize your movie review:

  • Introduction (with title, release date, background information)
  • Summary of the story
  • Analysis of the plot elements (rising action, climax)
  • Creative elements (dialogues, characters, use of colors, camera techniques, mood, tone, symbols, costumes or anything that contributes or takes away from the overall plot)
  • Opinion (supported with examples and facts from the story)
  • Conclusion (announcing whether the filmmaker was successful in his/her purpose, re-state your evidence, explain how the motion picture was helpful for providing a deeper understand of course topic)

Movie Review Elements

  • The title of the film/documentary – just because your headline features the name of the movie or documentary it doesn’t mean should skip mentioning it in the text. Always name the feature you’ve watched in the introductory paragraph. This may seem like a stupid thing to point out, but it’s one of the most common mistakes that students make
  • Summary – the whole point of the review is to summarize the documentary or movie for people who haven’t watched it yet. To make this as effective as possible, always assume that your professor hasn’t seen it either (as mentioned above). Why is this important? You won’t leave out some important details thinking he/she watched it already so they won’t bother. As a reviewer, your job is to explain what happened in the film and express whether the filmmaker failed or succeeded. Again, saying you liked or disliked it isn’t a viable comment. Your opinion has to be supported by specific reasons and examples from the feature itself
  • Filmmaker – do a little research on the person who directed the piece. Is that person a controversial figure? Is he/she known for a political stance? Does the filmmaker have a significant background? Devote a paragraph or two to the person behind the movie and their other works in order to establish the significance of the film you are reviewing for the director’s career
  • Significance to your class – How does the content of the documentary or film fit into your course topic? Is it important for historical accuracy? If you are watching the motion picture for history class, make note of over-dramatization. If the motion picture is based on the book you’ve analyzed in English class, you can mention similarities, differences, or some elements that film contains, but book doesn’t and so on
  • Creative elements – filmmakers work hard to include creative elements into their motion pictures. How are these elements important to the plot and movie in general? For example, costumes can either enhance the movie or betray its intent. Colors can be vivid and lift the atmosphere or mood in the movie or they can be dull and make it seem depressing. Good sound effects enrich the viewing experience while bad ones only destroy everything. Moreover, camera movements and angles also add elements to the story. Take notes of symbols in the story, if any.
  • Actors - let’s not forget the casting! Were the actors realistic? Did they portray the role of a specific character successfully? Did they have good acting skills? Do you believe that some particular actor was the right fit for the role?

Checklist / Outline for a Good Movie Review

  • Introduction (title, topic, release date, background information)
  • Accuracy of depiction
  • Use of sources in the documentary
  • Creative elements that enhance or tarnish the overall story (quality of script, visual design, performance, lighting, hair, and makeup, costume, set design, symbolism)
  • Your opinion
  • Conclusion

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Not focusing on the film – while connecting the plot to some specific historical event is a good idea (when applicable), strive to avoid writing about unnecessary details or introducing irrelevant information such as the history of cinematography or that particular genre, snacks, among other things
  • Inserting yourself – you’re the one who’s writing the review. The paper reflects your understanding and opinion of the motion picture you’ve seen and there is no need to write in first person all the time: I noticed this, I saw that I liked this, I disliked that
  • Failing to check facts about movie background and release date, director, casting etc.
  • Giving out your opinion without mentioning any reason why you think that way
  • Talking about irrelevancies
  • Writing a review without a structure
  • Writing generalities such as great acting, cool effects, a good movie, it was bad etc.
  • Writing a review without substance or analysis of the feature

 

Movie Review Examples

  • The Hunger Games and the idea of dystopia
  • Mean Girls review: does it exploit stereotypes about high schools or it helps to undermine them?
  • The Martian review and its connection to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
  • The Last Jedi review: all the reasons it’s far from the original saga
  • Manchester by the sea and ideas of forgiveness and grief
  • Forrest Gump review
  • I am Sam review
  • Runaway Bride review and its role in modern understanding of marriage

Movie Review Help

Like other types of writing, movie reviews require patience and time. Being a student isn’t the easiest task in the world and you don’t have enough time to dedicate to one assignment only while neglecting others. There’s no need to despair; you can use the internet to get much-needed assistance with this assignment. Here’s how:

By Markers Expectations / Rubrics

  • Clear Organization – as stated above, the clear organization is vital for a well-structured movie review. You can use the Edusson website as a guide through this process via numerous posts about writing, self-help resources, and Essay Examples that serves as an excellent platform to sharpen writing skills and compose your paper. RobotDon Essay Checker platform proves to be handy when you complete the writing process and want to make sure it’s unique, without fluff and wateriness, repetitive words and expressions. Let’s not fort that you can hire an essay writer who will write a perfect review for you
  • Use of Sources – just because it’s movie review, it doesn’t mean you should avoid using sources to support your claims. Sources are particularly important for reviews of documentaries or when you’re trying to connect the review with some problem in society. Research requires more time than any other part of the process and you can easily hire a professional i.e. a helper who will do that for you
  • Opinion – a movie review is about the equilibrium of unbiased report and personal opinion. While it’s okay to say what you think about the movie, you also have to approach certain aspects in an objective manner to help the reader get a better understanding of the motion picture. Finding the balance between subjective and objective writing can be frustrating, which is why professional service comes handy. All you have to do is to provide title, information, your opinion and a pro writer takes it from there

By Service

  • Essay Writing Service – there is no need to be stressed out because you have a ton of work to do when professional writer service can write movie review easily. Services like Edusson are used by students who can’t keep up with constant demands in school or college, but they don’t want to jeopardize their grades. With over 1000 writers, Edusson is a perfect writing service for this assignment. You have the full control of the project through set deadlines, choosing the writer for this task etc.
  • Essay Editing Service – sometimes students don’t need help with the writing process, but they need someone to edit it. Don’t ask your friends and family members to do it for you, hire professionals. Improve your paper. Raise your grades! Editors and proofreaders from Edusson correct grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation mistakes, check the style, formatting, organization and other aspects of your work to boost its quality. You can also use RobotDon to edit an essay on your own.

 

Movie Review FAQ

Do I have to write a movie review in a certain formatting style?
Everything depends on the instructions your teacher gives you. It often happens that a movie review can be free of academic formatting. But don't exclude the possibility that you will have to complete this paper in MLA.

Can I copy an existing movie review?
Well, of course, it is important to look at examples of other movie reviews to get to know the structure and ways of ideas expressing better. But if you copy a film review directly from the other source, your curator will detect plagiarism in it.

My major is not moviemaking. Why am I assigned to write a film report?
Students are assigned movie report writing, first of all, to broaden their mind and evaluate the way they can analyze material and express their opinion. Don't feel confused if on the Psychology class your professor asks you to review a movie. It is a common practice for students who are completing their degree in various fields of study.

Will you just give me someone else’s review?

No, not at all! Edusson stands out as the writing service with full transparency. All essays and other papers are written from scratch by professional writers with strong work ethic and desire to help their clients get better grades. The movie review you receive is 100% original, which you can check with RobotDon’s plagiarism checker.

Will you send my review to someone else?

The answer is – no. Not only are the clients in control of the process, but author’s rights are transferred to them the moment the review is done. Once the writing process is over, the review is yours and can never be sent to someone else.

What if I need more edits?

If you need edits or want some specific info to be added, our writers will be happy to make necessary revisions.

I need more help with movie review service, how can I contact you?

Our customer service is always available through 24/7 live chat feature.

 

Job to Get Done

Do you like movies? Who doesn’t? Movie and documentary reviews give you a unique opportunity to improve your writing skills by combining school assignment with someone you really like. Although it’s not that difficult to compose a review of a motion picture or some educational/informative feature, feel free to use all the available resources to get the most out of your assignment. Use the advantage of the internet to work on your review for major benefits such as:

Improve your Paper

Practice makes everything better and the internet allows you to make it happen. For instance, Edusson acts as a perfect tutorial + professional writing service platform as it allows you to improve writing skills while getting assistance from professional writers and editors when necessary. The do-it-yourselfers benefit greatly from RobotDon, a cute little helper that analyzes the review and identifies mistakes you need to correct. The result of using these resources is a well-written movie review that meets or exceeds your lecturer’s expectations.

Raise your GPA (grade)

Using multiple resources and platforms to your advantage can only be a good thing for your GPA. When you’re a student, everything you do counts and contributes to GPA. It all comes down to learning how to make student life easier for you and one way to do that is to incorporate online tools into your assignments. Your professor will appreciate the effort and thanks to the improved writing skills, good grades are unavoidable.