Review to recommend a movie

Film Review

Length: 3-4 full pages

Rough Draft: Due Thursday, April 22 (15 points, all or none)

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Final Draft: Due Wednesday, Thursday, April 29 (up to 150 points)


Purpose: The purpose of a review is not simply to recommend a movie or not recommend it, but to entertain and inform readers about the movie, the themes that it wrestles with, and perhaps the film industry or the genre it belongs to in general. In other words, the reviewer often has something more to say than just thumbs up or thumbs down.


Genre: While it should be informative and entertaining, the evaluation is ultimately the most important part of a review. Furthermore, this evaluation must be based on clear criteria that readers will agree are valid for the genre of film. The critical elements we have learned about during the semester can make for excellent criteria. Above all, an evaluation must be objective, not subjective personal opinion. There is room for some creativity within this genre of writing, but overall professionalism is extremely important to establish credibility with readers.


Audience: While your classmates will be important audience members, I hope that some of you actually submit your review to The Bismarck Tribune, The High Plains Reader, an online film site, or some other appropriate venue. It will be very important to establish your credibility, so remember to show off your knowledge of the film you are reviewing. Maybe you will even get invited to be a regular contributor (which could include free movie tickets!).


Voice: The voice here will need to be a bit on the formal and professional side. At the same time, I can imagine some exceptions where you will want to experiment with a voice appropriate to the subject matter, but professional critics often try to build up a reputation and a consistent voice. Think carefully about how voice can influence authority with your readers!


Social Context: If you follow through and submit your review for publication, you will really be trying to establish an identity or reputation through print. Regardless, remember that I will be reading to see how well you can mimic the voice and stylistic conventions of professional reviewers.


Review Grading Rubric

  • Does the review have a clear evaluation/recommendation, including a star rating out of five?
  • Is the evaluation based on at least three clearly identifiable criteria? Are those criteria valid for the genre of film and the intended audience?
  • Does the review go beyond summary and the mechanics of film to address its themes or place within the genre, including appropriate use of description and comparison/contrast?
  • Did you use an effective writing voice and style with engaging use of vocabulary, sentence style, and/or tone appropriate to a professional review?
  • Is the essay properly formatted and well edited, with few errors in word choice, sentence structure, and paragraphing?


Course Schedule: Unit 3

Date Day Topic/Readings Assignments and Tasks
4/8 Thurs. Identify a genre of film that you like to watch and that you have the most experience with. Write down films you’ve seen in this genre and the things that you and general viewers look for in such films. Writing Assignment: Bring your reflection to class.

We will work to identify conventions and criteria for a variety of film genres, then move on to film selections for our own essays. Short clips may be used to refresh ourselves on evaluation if time permits.

4/13 Tues. Re-read any relevant material and prepare for the film screening. Don’t forget to be working on the third film journal! Film Screening: TBA!


4/15 Thurs. The third film journal is due.

Select a film to view for your review essay and conduct a first screening to begin taking notes.

Writing Assignment: The third film journal is due, so remember to bring a copy to hand in and post a copy to the dropbox in our Blackboard shell by the start of class.


Film Screening: TBA!

4/20 Tues. Re-screen your chosen film and finish your notes, organizing them by criteria you can use to evaluate the film. Writing Assignment: Bring your completed screening notes to class.

The fundamentals of an argumentative essay based on evaluation will be our primary focus. We will look in particular at organization and effective thesis statements that make the overall evaluation clear.

4/22 Thurs. Reading and writing relevant to the rough draft of the evaluating remediations essay. Writing Assignment: Post a copy of your rough draft to the film review peer response discussion in the class Blackboard shell by the normal start of class. Post peer responses to your group members’ drafts no later than the end of the day Thursday, April 22.
4/27 Tues. Begin revisions and editing for your draft based on the feedback from peer response and your own ideas. Writing Assignment: Bring an updated copy of your draft with to class. We will work through several in-class activities revolving around revision, then move on to editing, proofreading, and some final reminders on MLA formatting and documentation.
4/29 Thurs. Finish revising the film review essay. Writing Assignment: Bring your final draft of the film review essay to hand in and post an electronic copy in the appropriate dropbox in the Blackboard shell by the start of class. We will wrap up our work with this film and preview our final tasks of the semester.


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