In-Class Assignment: Film Reviews

You're the Critic

After we watch the movie, two students will be chosen at random to be film critics. Here's how it works: after the movie, the whole class will be given 10-15 minutes to prepare individual presentations. Then, everyone's name will be placed in a hat, and I'll take two names out of the hat. Those two students will present on the movie. Your presentation should be organized as follows:

  1. Provide a brief summary of the film. (Two or three sentences are fine; you don't need to include a lot of details. For example, you might summarize the film Titanic by saying, "This film is a classic love story set on the only voyage Titanic ever made. The young woman involved, who is played by Kate Winslet, comes from a high society family. Meanwhile, the young man, played by Leonardo Di Caprio, is poor and traveling in third class. Their relationship is intensified by the fact that the ship is sinking.")
  2. State your opinion of the movie. What are its strengths and weaknesses? Provide specific examples (scenes, situations) from the film. (About Titanic, you might say, "Overall, I really liked this movie. For one, I'm a die-hard romantic, so I really got involved in the story. I loved the way that the photographs at the end showed how Rose went on to do everything she and Jack had talked about together--like riding a horse in California. Also, I thought the filming was beautiful. I really liked a lot of the shots. For example, I loved the aerial shot at the beginning that panned the whole length of the ship. It really gave you a feeling of how big the ship was! I also really liked the scene with all of the china floating in the dining room. As far as weaknesses go, I didn't like the fact that this movie gives us a distorted view of history. It was a really nice story, but it was obviously fictional.")
  3. What character(s) do you most identify with? What are the main personality traits of this (these) characters? (About Titanic, you might say, "I really identified with Jack. He's a free spirit. He doesn't have any money, but he's traveled all over the world looking for adventure. Maybe he finds more adventure than he wants on Titanic, but he's strong and true to his principles.")
  4. In your opinion, what was the director's intention or message? (Of Titanic, you might say, "I think that James Cameron wanted to show that he's king of the movie world. No, seriously, I think he wanted to provide some great blockbuster entertainment while at the same time recreating one of the most famous sea disasters in history. Actually, I'm really glad that Jack died at the end. If he had lived, this story wouldn't be tragic. It would just be another Hollywood movie."
  5. How does the film relate to American culture? Specifically, how does it relate to the era in which it was made? (Of Titanic, you might say, "For one, I think this movie shows that American attitudes have changed somewhat. For example, it's accepted that Rose and Jack are lovers. This definitely wouldn't have been accepted in 1912. It wouldn't have been accepted 35 years ago. Also, both characters are very independent. Rose decides to go against her mother's wishes, but we see this as the right thing to do. It seems to be a dominant American value that young people make their own decisions, even when these decisions go against their parents. Also, it doesn't matter that she's high society and he's not. This seems to re-enforce the American ideal that love can bridge economic distinctions."
  6. Finally, give the movie a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down." (Obviously, Titanic gets the thumbs up.)

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