Film Studies

This guide provides information about viewing, studying, and producing films at K-State.

Library Research Guide

Finding Film Reviews... and What Makes Them "Good"

This section provides tips on finding reviews of films written by film critics.

Movie reviews range from brief summaries of the film, sometimes with an indicator of quality like stars or thumbs up/down, to critical analyses with cultural insight. The synopses help audiences decide if they want to see a film and can offer insight into how a film was received when it was released. The critical analyses help you understand the impact of the film on culture (or vice versa.)


When and Where Are Film Reviews Published?

Reviews of films released prior to the 1990s are most likely to appear in newspapers and magazines within a few weeks (either prior to or after) the film was released.

Reviews of films released starting in the 1990s and later may appear in newspapers and magazines, and are also published in blogs, online magazines, on social media, such as YouTube, and other websites.


What makes a "good" movie review or film criticism?

Because film reviews can be created by anyone, look for clues indicating that the reviewer is critically engaging with the film.

At the most basic level, in a good review:

  • key facts are correct, including character names, plot points, creatives involved in the project, etc...
  • the author provides concrete examples from the film that substantiate their arguments
  • the author demonstrates familiarity or expertise with film or the genre, by referencing concrete and relevant examples from other works by the director or other creatives, films in the same genre, or the source material (such as films based on books, historical events, etc)

More critical reviews may feature:

  • correct use of terms commonly used by film professionals, critics and/or scholars (not sure? check your class notes, the readings assigned by your instructor, or film encyclopedias or companions)
  • engagement with relevant theories, critics, scholarship, and other reviews of the film
  • A perspective or analysis that helps you understand the film, the film's reception, or something the culture and society in which the film was created or viewed

Film Reviews through K-State Libraries Databases

Find reviews of films published in newspapers and magazines through these databases at K-State. These databases include current and historical publications, pay attention to the dates covered by the databases in comparison to the date the film you are interested in was released or re-released.



Specific Publications

These well-known titles can be found in the above databases and/or as print or microfilmed issues in the Libraries' collections. Follow the links for details about what issues/years we own or have access to.

Film Reviews & Commentary Beyond K-State

Modern Reviews and Commentaries

These free sites offer movie reviews and commentaries of modern films.

Historic and Archival Film Publications

These digitized collections offer insight into the history of film.

When websites disappear

When a review website like Television Without Pity disappears it's gone forever, right?

Maybe, maybe not if the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine took snapshots of it over the years as part of it's effort to archive the internet.

You can either enter the URL of the site you want into the WayBack Machine (helpful if you are following a dead link) or search using the name of the site to see if was archived.

The WayBack Machine organizes its snapshots of websites by date and the websites themselves are not searchable.

Not every website has been archived, not every page of a website is archived, and the snapshots are taking periodically throughout a year, so if a review was posted and then taken down in between snapshots, you may not be able to find it again.