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Movie Reviews. What’s the purpose of a film movie review?. The purpose of a film reviewer is to help the reader decide whether or not they should watch, download or buy that movie. Guidelines and tips for writing a good film review:. The review should give

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Movie reviews

Movie Reviews

What s the purpose of a film movie review

What’s the purpose of a film movie review?

  • The purpose of a film reviewer is to help the reader decide whether or not they should watch, download or buy that movie

Guidelines and tips for writing a good film review

Guidelines and tips for writing a good film review:

The review should give

  • enough details about the film that the reader can make

  • an informed decision, without giving anyway any essentials such as the plot or any surprises.

How to write a movie review

How to write a movie review

1. Watch the movie

2. Give your opinion

3. Who is your audience?

4. Give an outline

5. Actors

6. Structure

7.Cinematography and lighting

8. Music

9. Read, read and read

Movie reviews

  • A film reviewer also creates a dialogue. They place a movie in the social context of the times.

  • For example, a good film reviewer in the 80s would have, and did, talk about the sort of hard bodied muscle men, and why movies like Rambo and Terminator were doing so well, why people wanted to see those big, beefy guys battle it out for our country. They put it in the context of the time.

  • What about today? What’s the context of our time?

Useful vocabulary on film reviews

Useful vocabulary on Film Reviews

Hilarious, touching, overdone, superb, disturbing, well-portrayed, low-key, shrouded, sequel, hinted, core, blockbuster,

  • convey, suspense, vaunted, emotionally-charged, disjointed, dull, clichéd, avant-garde, shallow, thought-provoking, ponderous, lapsing, over-studied.

C lems



camera angles and shots, the “eye” or point of view from which we see all action

C l ems



lighting, chosen to show people or objects for effect in emotion, mood, and to be symbolic

Cl e ms



editing, or what the director chooses to leave in or out

Cle m s



movement of people, objects (vehicles, bullets), natural elements (waves, wind…)

Clem s



sound-everything the audience can hear, from breathing to horn honking to music

The grammar of film

The “Grammar” of Film

Written Language

Letters are the smallest distinct form of written language

Letters make up words

Words strung together create a sentence

Sentences are put together to create a paragraph

Many paragraphs together create a story

Film Language

A film’s smallest unit is a single Frame, which is like a still photograph

Several frame make up Shots in films

Shots go together to make up one scene

Several scenes make up a Sequence

The sequence of scenes create an entire film

Parts of a film some basic terms

Parts of a Film: Some Basic Terms

  • Frame=a single picture on a length of film

  • Shot=one continuous recording of an action taken by one camera

  • Scene= a series of shots, showing action in one location

  • Sequence= a series of scenes showing a significant aspect ot he plot

Movie reviews

Camera Techniques: Distance and Angle

Medium shot ms

Medium Shot (MS)

  • A much closer view- e.g. a person(s) from the waist up

  • Our view is limited to things immediately around the person

Medium close up msc

Medium Close Up (MSC)

  • Closer still-e.g. mid-chest to head

Close up cu and extreme close up ecu

Close Up (CU) and Extreme Close Up (ECU)

  • Used for emphasis, to focus on whatever is most significant at the moment

  • May reveal human emotions (sadness, shock) or private information- e.g contents of a letter, or tension of turning a door handle

Point of view pov

Point of View (POV)

  • When the camera acts like an eye, giving us a particular subjective view- e.g. we see only what a character sees, or over the shoulder of the character

Angles three main angles of camera may be used

Angles-Three main angles of camera may be used

  • High Angle

    • Camera looks down on subject

    • Can make the person seem small, insignificant, vulnerable or unlikely to win

  • Low Angle

    • Camera looks up at subject who then seems large, important, in control

  • Normal Angle

    • E.g.-eye level

Editing questions to ask yourself

Editing-Questions to ask yourself

  • What shots are selected?

  • How are the shots arranged?

  • In what order are they placed?

Match action

Match Action

  • Two scenes, shot at different times, are cut together to give the impression of natural continuity

Jump cut

Jump Cut

  • Opposite of match action

  • A cut where there’s little continuity



  • Cutting in action between two, simultaneous scenes

  • Often used to show contrast or to create suspense



  • How long is a shot held on the screen?

  • What tempo and rhythm result?

Jolts per minute

Jolts per Minute

  • JPM is the measure of how many cuts occur in a single minute of film

  • Jolts keep the eye moving and the viewer interested

  • Many JPM=creates movement, high action, fast-paced

  • Few JPM=static, monotonous



  • What transitions are used to move from one shot or sequence to the next?

Straight cut

Straight Cut

  • the simplest transition

  • when one shot ends, another begins

  • creates continuous movement

Fade in

Fade In

  • shot appears from darkness

Fade out

Fade Out

  • shot fades into darkness



  • one shot fades into the next; for a brief moment, both shots appear on the screen at the same time (superimposition)

  • like the fade in and fade out, the dissolve is used to show a passage of time

Movie reviews


  • a line crosses the screen, moving the next shot over top of the current shot (essentially “pushing” it off screen)

Movement of the subject

Movement of the Subject

  • Smooth

  • Jerky

  • Sudden

  • Languid

  • Constant

  • Etc.

Movement of the camera

Movement of the Camera

Boom shot

Boom Shot

  • Camera moves through space, up and down, on a crane

  • Follows the action, reveals a scene

Dolly shot

Dolly Shot

  • Camera moves through space, forward or backward from subject, on a cart on wheels

  • Creates increasing or decreasing intimacy with the subject

Pan shot

Pan Shot

  • Side to side camera movement using a pivoting tripod

  • Often used for establishing shots

Tilt shot

Tilt Shot

  • Up and down camera movement using a pivoting tripod

  • May be used to reveal size

Tracking shot

Tracking Shot

  • Camera moves through space, on a dolly, to follow a moving subject

  • Makes the subject seem more important than the moving background

Movement of the lens

Movement of the Lens

  • Zooming in and out

Movement from shot to shot

Movement from Shot to Shot

  • transitions

Movie reviews

Camera Techniques: Movement



  • Dialogue

  • Music

Functional music

Functional Music

  • Background music added to the soundtrack (characters can’t hear it)

  • Creates mood, atmosphere

Authentic music

Authentic Music

  • Actually played in the story

  • Characters can hear it

  • May contribute to atmosphere or play a role in the plot (or both)

Sound effects

Sound Effects

  • Noises added to the soundtrack to create realism

Voice over

Voice Over

  • Narration of a scene (usually off-screen)





Warm colours

Warm Colours

  • Rusty brown

  • Moss green

  • Mustard yellow

  • Creates an earthy, warm, comfortable atmosphere

Cool colours

Cool Colours

  • Aquamarine blue

  • Spring green

  • White

  • Creates a modern, sleek, clean look

Muted colours

Muted Colours

  • Cream

  • Beige

  • Pale/pastel earth tones

  • Relaxing and calming

Vivid colours

Vivid Colours

  • Bright red

  • Yellow

  • Blue

  • Primary crayon colours

  • Creates energy

  • A sense of fun

Complementary colours

Complementary Colours

  • Indicates harmony agreement

Contrasting colours

Contrasting Colours

  • Indicates disagreement

  • Conflict



  • Creates mystery

  • Hidden emotion

Black and white

Black and white

  • Creates a serious/academic tone

  • Documentary

  • May be used to create nostalgia

  • In which case a sepia tint may be added



  • Key Lighting=main source of light

  • Filler Lighting=Secondary light

Direction of light source

Direction of Light Source

Front lighting

Front Lighting

  • Subject is lit directly from the front

  • Leaves no noticeable shadow

  • Unnatural, often used for portraits

Flat lighting

Flat Lighting

  • More than one light source directly on the front of the subject

  • Features are softened

  • No evidence at all of shadows

  • Very unnatural

  • Models in make-up ads

Top lighting

Top Lighting

  • Subject is lit from above

  • Creates shadows towards the bottom of the subject

  • Eyes are shaded or not visible at all

  • Creates mystery, fear, sadness

Bottom lighting

Bottom Lighting

  • Subject is lit from below, leaving unnatural shadows on the face

  • Eerie effect because no natural source of bottom lighting exists

  • Often used in horror films

Back lighting silhouetting

Back Lighting (Silhouetting)

  • The subject is lit from behind, leaving a halo effect around the subject

  • In extreme cases, no light is visible on the front of the subject and a silhouette is crated

Side lighting

Side Lighting

  • Subject is lit from one side, creating shadows on the other side

  • Creates a sense of depth of character, interest, mystery

Hatchet lighting

Hatchet Lighting

  • Bright side lighting, “cutting” the subject’s face in half

  • One side is brightly lit, the other in total darkness

  • Shows two sides of character

Intensity of light source

Intensity of Light Source

Hard lighting

Hard Lighting

  • Unnatural and stark

  • Spotlight, bright sunlight through a window

Soft lighting

Soft Lighting

  • Natural and warm

  • Diffused, filtered

  • Fuzzy glow effect

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