How often do you hear the phrase "everyone’s a critic now"? It’s certainly become more and more true with the rise of social media where no new movie, play, book, or video game can escape from the immediate assessment of thousands of armchair reviewers. But if you want to be a bit better than that and follow in the footsteps of a Roger Ebert, you’re going to need all of these qualities and more.
A love of the medium
The medium you’re reviewing has to be in your blood – so much so that you’d rather spend your time in the dark watching a movie or playing a video game instead of doing almost anything else. It also goes without saying that, if you really do love a particular medium, you’ll be well-versed in its history and have an in-depth knowledge of what’s come before. You’ll be writing from a position of knowledge and be able to criticize and compare in context. If you’re just dabbling in an area that you don’t know particularly well, any criticism or reviews you produce will tend to seem superficial and generally lacking an authoritative voice.
Flexibility of tone
Whatever you’re reviewing, and it doesn’t just have to be a movie as it could equally be an online casino or any other form of entertainment, know your audience and write in the language that they understand and will respond too. After all, a review of Citizen Kane is going to be very different to a Royal Panda review by BonusFinder. Try to use the sort of vocabulary that will mark you out as an expert in the field even if it might seem like jargon. To take the example of the BonusFinder site, this is aimed at helping people who are probably experienced in online gambling to find a good online casino to play at. At the same time, the review on Hollywood Reporter fully targets an audience that knows the movie industry well, referencing previous movies and using industry-specific terms. Both reviews use the sort of language that an audience knows while offering insight into the industry.
Don’t believe the hype
Hype and aggressive marketing have become more and more pronounced in recent times, especially in movies. Many believe the superhero genre is responsible for this – although some of cinema’s leading lights have said that they’re not cinema at all. Know your own mind. The closer you get to a particular entertainment industry, the more pressure is exerted on you with regard to what to write. But stand your ground and be true to your opinions and principles. It may lose you a few friends in the industry, but it will earn you far more devoted fans who truly value your opinions.
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of what you need to be an insightful and perceptive critic, but it’s a pretty good starting point. Now it’s up to you to develop that distinctive tone of voice and profile to start getting your opinions noticed.