[I haven't actually seen the new, final Star Wars picture yet, but I think I've read enough reviews to see how it's done. Here, then, is your guide to writing your very own review of the motion picture Revenge of the Sith.]
Writing movie reviews is easy. What matters most is your opinion, a willingness to write within a few simple guidelines and an ability to present yourself as a brilliant, insightful and savvy interpreter of the truth of cinema. Surely you could be a better filmmaker than George Lucas, if only you had millions of your own dollars and an adoring public! Why not prove it with your movie review?
Let’s begin. To ensure that your review is suitable for publication on the internet, it’s important to build it using the following guidelines. Don’t be discouraged! Sometimes it’s boring to follow directions, but because you’re writing a movie review, you don’t even need to worry about punctuation! Remember: What you write isn’t important. It’s what you can claim to have meant that counts.
Though everyone knows that it’s bad to write “inside the box,” you’ll have plenty of opportunity to make your Revenge of the Sith review your own by adding outside movie references, citing “little-known factoids” about the impact George Lucas and Star Wars have had on the popular consciousness, and selecting your very own character from the franchise to truly understand and explain to others.
If you have trouble personalizing your review, why not take a look at the films of John Hughes, Kevin Smith, Mike Meyers or the Monty Python troupe for jokes you can use yourself? Some of those people were witty, once, and you can show that you’re witty by helping others to remember movies they’ve seen!
To be bold, try replacing one or two of the following review components with something you read in Entertainment Weekly. (They’re the Strunk & White of movie reviews.)
Ready? Here’s those guidelines:
1. Before you do anything else, it’s important to tell your reader when you first saw Star Wars and, if possible, where. Peoples’ opinions of all Star Wars movies are weighted based on the order in which they saw the film; the perspective of earlier viewers is inherently more valuable than that of later viewers. Note that some viewers believe the number of viewings is more important, or the viewer’s ability to immediately embrace a universe of gold robots and gibberish-speaking trash-mongers. If you knew Star Wars was something special when you first saw those blue letters appear on-screen in 1977, then your opinion of every subsequent Star Wars movie is more worthy. Indeed, your opinion of any film with a spaceship may be above average.
2. Make sure that everyone knows that they already know what happens in this last Star Wars movie. Then, tell them exactly what happens anyway. Your review can’t be considered truly comprehensive unless you list at least four “action set pieces” and describe the story in detail. If you can, reveal “minor spoilers” to show that you have an appreciation for the common reader mixed in with your superior insider knowledge. You can also enhance your opinion of the action by reminding the reader that you’ve been looking forward to “The Duel” for a Long Time.
3. George Lucas writes bad dialogue. It is important to mention this fact at least three times during your review to prove to the reader that you have a good ear for dialogue and, therefore, can see through the shimmering surface of beauty on all Star Wars movies to the black and rotten heart underneath. Remember that you love Star Wars, however, and that your angry superiority over it and the people who create it is just tough love.
If possible, spend a little while writing about how the romance scenes are especially bad. Then, before your review slips down the slippery slope into “negativity,” mention how one or two lines in the new movie reference the Classic Trilogy, which is good writing. If you’re up to it, try writing a sentence of your review in “Yoda-Speak.” That says your review is lighthearted and fun!
4. It’s important to mention the performances when writing a review. (Unfortunately, it is considered bad form to write about the performance of imaginary vehicles and weaponry in a modern movie review, so resist the temptation.) Don’t worry, it’s easy to write about performances — you need just one sentence (or less!) per actor. Here are some you can use:
“Ewan MacGregor expertly channels Alec Guiness.”
“Hayden Christunshen misreads bad dialogue.”
“Natalie Portman is pretty.”
“The movie truly belongs to Ian McDiarmid.”
“Chewbacca is back!”
“C-3P0 is gold now.”
“General Grievous coughs. I’ve decided that it makes no sense for an intergalactic cybornetic general with four arms and a hunchback to cough. There’s a line, after all, and coughing is just too much.”
“Yoda used to be a puppet, but sometimes he fights now.”
Here’s a tip: Some audiences haven’t noticed the costumes given to Natalie Portman’s character, much less her hair. Padme Amidala has funny hair. Mention that.
5. Most of the effects in this movie are “computer-generated” (CG), which means software randomly assembled art influences scanned into the machine into vehicles and environments, which were then incorporated into the script. Because no humans designed or painted these objects, they are lifeless and unreal. Prove you’re savvy by acknowledging the beauty of CG effects, but maintain your respectability by gently boasting that you know they’re everywhere and not real. You won’t fall for movie magic!
Remember, only filmmakers like special effects. Modern audiences are too smart for them and so-called effects pictures always make less money at the box office than real movies. Audiences who saw The Dark Crystal in the theater know that puppets are inherently more real, because somebody somewhere could touch theme, even if you will never get the chance. So, it’s important to tell your reader that they should not let themselves be swept up by “dazzling” or “amazing” imagery, just in case it might have been generated by a computer. Protect yourself, and the value of your opinion, by selecting a few special effects sequences (or even shots, if you want to appear especially precise) and declaring them “fake-looking” or “unnecessary.” This will imply that you have seen and enjoyed real movies like The Third Man or The Godfather and make you look more mature.
By following these simple guidelines, you too can write a Revenge of the Sith review that will make your opinion matter in conversations and on-line message boards! If you write cautiously, and be sure to insult George Lucas, Hayden Christianson or Yoda (but not Natalie Portman!) every other paragraph or so, you can even write a positive review without deemed a “Lucas apologist.”
Maybe, one day, a studio executive will read your review online and let you make your own movie!