Examine the Character & Story:
- Describe the story – summary (synopsis). Don’t tell everything. Offer the highlights and overview only. Brevity is key here; capture the synopsis of the film, not each scene. Try to keep this to a paragraph or two. You don’t want to tell the entire story. That may be tougher than you think.
- You may want to mention the inciting incident somewhere in your summary. What launches the character into action within the story?
- What was the story question?
- What approach does the author take –what genre (Comedy, Drama, Action, Family, Animation, Adventure, etc.) – or is it a combination of several? Explain why you feel this way?
- Does the story seek to entertain or is there a deeper meaning (or both)? If there is a moral to the story, what is the message? Did the story feel complete?
Why is this story important for viewers? Or is it?
- Discuss the impact of the characters.
- Thinks about what literary hero best represents the protagonist(s)? More on this later.
- Think about character arc when evaluating. More on this later.
- Were the characters round? Flat? Dynamic? Static? More on this later.
- How did the main characters interact with the story?
Explore the Character Conflicts –examine why they are important. All stories have a character conflict – it is this conflict (or conflicts) that should drive the story. These are the forces of antagonism. Check out these examples:
- Character vs. Character (many war films, boxing films, spy films, relationship films)
- Character vs. Nature (do characters faces storms, earthquakes, tornados, natural disasters, etc?).
- Character vs. Self (internal battles & struggles with one’s feelings, desires, physical or mental limitations, etc).
- Character vs. Society (battles with culture, education, politics).
- Character vs. The Unknown or Supernatural (any unknown future, enemy, situation, feelings, etc.).
- Character vs. God/Religion (battles and struggles with one’s understanding and/or relationship to religion, God and/or figures representing religion).
- Character vs. Machine (or technology) – (when humans battle the power of technology and that results in machine taking on or taking over for man).
Director’s intent and focus. Which one of the following was the most important aspect for you? Why? Give examples to support your reasoning (Sometimes there may be more than one).
Was it a …
- Focus on Plot – the Story.
- Focus on Emotional effect or mood (does the story seek mainly to convey or elicit emotions – (sadness, joy, anger)?
- Focus on Character – Is the character the most important aspect of the story. Why?
- Focus on style or Texture – (unique style in writing or conveying mood, overly figurative language. Is it written to convey language of a certain time or place, strong symbolism, etc.)? Is the film a special effects focused film with heavy CGI and immersive sound design?
- Focus on ideas – Was this mainly a message-film designed to make you think? Does the story try to convey a moral, universal life-lesson or social statement or message. Stories about human nature, coming of age, human relationships, politics, society’s ills, or cultural warfare may be idea-driven films. These stories are meant to leave a lasting impression.
Part IV – Personal Response and Recommendations (combines reflections, critique and interpretations with ‘how the movie made you feel’)
- What are the weakest and strongest points to the film?
- What is the genre?
- Does the film succeed or fail? Why do you think so? Did it make you laugh? Did it make you cry? Did it scare you?Did it challenge you to think? Did it motivate you to do something?
- What are your overall personal reactions to the film (if you haven’t already answered this above)?
- Did anything stand out (positive or negative) about the acting, sound, music, production design, special effects, etc?
- Who is this film’s appropriate audience (families, children, adults, men, women, college educated, foreign culture, etc.)?
- If you gave it a report card grade –what would that grade be? Make sure the grade matches your evaluation.
Part V: Are there any filmmakers of note to mention? (acting, directing, screenwriting, composing)