CUNY Brooklyn College Close Up Film Discussion

Analytical Essay Assignment: Movie Review

Your second essay project is an analytical essay. This assignment will help you refine the following skills: making global statements of opinion (or claims), defending these claims with evidence, making more sophisticated argumentative claims, and using essay structure to present and execute an argument. 

The goal of this assignment is to have you make a clear evaluative claim––and to sustain it across an essay-length paper, using evidence to present your opinion as objectively as possible. An evaluative claim essentially asserts your opinion on the overall quality of something. In order to do this, you’ll be writing a review of a movie.

The Review

Reviewing a movie is a way of practicing making a general claim, as well as defending that claim with evidence. You’ll need to clearly state your educated, considered, overall opinion of this movie. Then, you’ll need to use evidence (aspects of the movie itself) to back up your overall opinion (your evaluation) of the movie. Your goal is to convince the reader of your essay (your audience) that your evaluation is absolutely, 100% correct.

The Thesis Statement

In this review, you will need to include a thesis statement, ideally close to the start of your review. Your thesis statement for this essay will be rather simple. Rather than staging an argument about the film in its context, you will simply be evaluating the film using global statements. Your thesis should answer this question: What was the overall quality of the movie, and why do you think so? Did it work overall, or was it overall a failure, and why do you think so? You’ll then use your essay to defend this thesis statement, using evidence from the movie to defend it.

The Evidence

To build up your evidence, and your overall opinion, watch the movie at least once (twice or three times is even better). As you watch, take notes around the following major questions: What parts of the movie work? And what parts of the movie do not work? And: why or why not?

To prove your evaluation is fair and true, you’ll need to cite specific aspects of the movie. These might include:

The quality of the actors’ performances. What worked well in these performances? What did not work well in these performances? 

The quality of the screenwriting (how the movie’s scenes and dialogue are structured and written).

Spend some time discussing the plot in terms of what works and what does not work. If you simply summarize the plot, you have not done your job as a reviewer. That’s a summary, not a review.

The soundtrack. Does the music in this movie add to, or take away from, your experience of the action on screen?

Think a little bit about the context in which the film was made. What year was it released? In what country was it produced? Where was it filmed? Do these things matter to your opinion about the film’s overall quality?

Is this movie a sequel, or part of a trilogy or larger series? How does this factor into your overall opinion of the film? 

Is there anything interesting, or that works or does not work, in the movie’s “look” or style? In other words, its color palette, shot framing, set design, etc.?

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