GUEST EDITORIAL: 10 Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Movie Review



10 Mistakes to Avoid While Writing a Movie Review

by Daniela McVicker

Movie review writing mistakes can be very sneaky. They can slip into great movie reviews and can happen even to the best writers. A seemingly irrelevant mistake can corrupt a perfectly good movie review.  If you want to write something that stands out and gives the reader relevant information, you should stay away from common mistakes and clichés. Knowing the following mistakes to avoid will make it easier for you to create an amazing movie review. 

1. Giving out spoilers

Some reviews instantly announce that they include spoilers. But if you don't even warn the readers, that is the most basic mistake you can make. It is understandable that you get carried away and spill something that the readers who haven't watch the movie shouldn't know. In that case, you need to emphasize in big letters that reading that review will give some information away. However, if you want to appeal to a broader audience and write professional reviews, it is better to leave the spoilers out.

2. Retelling the movie

When someone goes to a movie review site, they want to hear about opinions on it. They want to know if the movie is worth watching. Retelling the whole movie isn't going to work well with this goal. You need to be critical, not descriptive. Introducing the characters and mentioning the plot is fine but giving out everything from the beginning to the end is just wrong. It is even worse if the whole story is copied from Wikipedia, thinking that no one will notice.

3. Overused sentences

How many times have you seen the comment:

"The best sci-fi/comedy/superhero/action movie since X"? Or "The movie America needs right now"?

You can find sentences like this all over the place.  Readers who are passionate about movie reviews want to hear something original. Cliché sentences and phrases will only drive them away because there will be nothing new to interest them.

4. Being too general

While you shouldn't give away spoilers, you also shouldn't be too general. The easiest way to write a review is to compile several generalized sentences and move on.  Consider the following comment: 

"The movie is great because it is exciting, exhilarating, and depicts everyday life." 

This can be about almost any movie. General reviews don't give any valuable information to the readers. You need to show that you know what you are talking about if you want to earn your credibility. 

5. Continuously comparing the movie to the book

With so many book adaptations it is bound that someone makes this mistake. Some reviews basically go on and on how the movie differs from the source or is similar to it. This may work for the folks who have read the book, but what about those who didn't? If someone wants a comparison they will search for it on the web. They won't search for a movie review. Try to keep your emotions about the similarity of the source and the movie to yourself. 

6. Not doing enough research

Regardless of the movie's complexity, you should always do some research before you start writing. If you omit this part, you may give wrong interpretations to the readers and lead them in the wrong direction. You shouldn't get influenced by other reviews. The purpose of the research is to make sure that there isn't any important information that you have overlooked.  Prove to your readers that you have a good grasp on what you are writing about.  A well-informed and credible review is what every reader wants. 

7. Writing about irrelevant details

Readers don't come to a movie review post to read about how comfortable the theater seat was or whether the reviewer chose popcorn with or without butter. Sharing the experience of going to the theater or watching the movie should be left for a personal blog.  Be professional and write about movie-related impressions only. 

8. Poorly written reviews

Another common mistake is thinking that this isn't academic writing and not caring about the writing errors. The reviews will be read by people from a different educational background, but that doesn't mean that they don't deserve a well-written review.

Beginners who still aren't confident in their writing skills should do some research about top writing services and get an experienced writer to help them out. Make sure that you always proofread and edit your review to make it more readable. For example, you can use Hemingway Editor which is a simple online editing tool that is also free of charge.

9. Getting too personal

A movie review should aim to present an analytical overview. Being somewhat subjective is inevitable. However, you should avoid getting too personal. It will ruin the readers' experience. Mentioning which parts remind you of your childhood or how something brings out memories of your long lost love won't mean anything to the readers. Don't forget that you aren't talking to your friends. You are writing for people who want a critical opinion on the movie.

10. Mentioning another movie

Keep in mind that you don't have information about your readers' watchlist. If you mention a different movie in your review, your audience might get confused. Let's say that you write something like this:

"This reminded me of a scene in "Fight Club" when X did Y."

Your reader who hasn't watched "Fight Club will instantly click that X button because he has no idea what you are talking about. If you want to do a movie comparison, that is great. Just try to stay away from bringing up various movies in specific reviews.

Over to you

Now that you know which mistakes you should avoid at any cost, it is time to get to writing. Remember that your purpose is to analyze and evaluate the movie so that you can help others with their movie experience.



Daniela McVicker describes herself as someone who has options. Those options include music (she is actually a keyboard player for a band), a seeker of new adventures (the latest being skydiving), and a lover of the written word. She is a creative writer, has a published novel, and is a frequent blogger for the website, RatedbyStudents.