How to Write a Movie Response Essay

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Teachers often ask students to watch and respond to movies, such as blockbuster hits, to learn how to critically analyze themes, plots and characters. Students should evaluate the intended audience and provide personal reviews as part of the English assignment. Take notes during the movie, so you can recall important details when writing your essay. You might be asked to compare and contrast the movie with its book version.

1 Strong Lead and a Clear Thesis

Create a catchy lead and a strong thesis to kick-start your movie response essay. State your opinion of the movie in your thesis, based on two or three characteristics, such as the plot, setting or characters.

You want readers to know right from the start whether you had a positive or a negative response to the movie. '},{'content':'For example, if you're responding to the movie "Divergent," based on the young adult fiction series by Veronica Roth, you might write, "The dark setting, strong character portrayals and themes about free will left me with the compelling notion that that there is hope for mankind."

2 Actors and Major Characters

Discuss how effectively the actors and actresses played their roles and whether you think the casting fit the movie. Talk about character-driven elements of the show, such as how the characters interact with one another and how they evolve over the course of events

Be specific and use quotes from the movie or critical scenes to back up your viewpoints.

3 Summary of the Plot

Provide a concise summary of the plot, but don't give away any twists, major character developments, revelations or the ending. No spoilers! Compare the plot in the movie to the one in the book. For example, in the book "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, the mayor's daughter gives Katniss, the protagonist, a mockingbird lapel pin. In the movie version, Katniss finds the pin at a rummage sale. Discuss why you think the movie plot satisfied viewers and any reasons why you believe it fell short.

4 Themes or Morals

Comment on the directors' and the movie writers' abilities to reveal critical themes, messages or morals in the story. State your opinion about how clearly and effectively viewers can understand and interpret deeper meanings in the movie. Explain how a particular scene -- one that was well done or one that was poorly executed -- contributed or detracted from the overall message. For example, in the scene where Sam refuses to leave Frodo in "The Fellowship of the Ring," the directors effectively reveal important themes about loyalty, devotion and friendship.

5 Audience Demographics

Discuss audience demographics, such as the intended viewing age, grade level or target audience. Use concrete language and descriptive details to explain why the film fits a particular demographic.

For example, the target audience in the movie "The Maze Runner," based on the novel by James Dashner, is teens. However, the strong male lead makes the movie even more appealing to males than some of the similar female-oriented dystopian young-adult stories. In your movie response, list any warnings that might make the movie unsuitable for children.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.