Judith Downie
Humanities Librarian
CSUSM Library
KEL 3424

Back to Film Resources Index

An important piece of film research is the review. These can be short or lengthy analyses including previous work by the director, the strength and weaknesses of the storyline, how the work fits into the genre, and the actors' skills. Here are some tips on finding reviews through a variety of resources.

Internet Sources



CSUSM has purchased collections of film reviews, many of these titles are found in the Reference collection. Due to publication cycles, you will normally find reviews for movies older than 2 years in books, but an entire book may be devoted to one genre or director. To find additional materials, you can look through these catalogs:

  • CSUSM Library Catalog what you can find in the Kellogg Library

  • Circuit is the joint catalog for CSUSM, SDSU, UCSD, and USD with delivery in 1-3 days for CSUSM users.

  • Melvyl searches the entire University of California catalog system and delivers in 5-10 days through Interlibrary Loan for CSUSM.

  • WorldCat searches a 'universe' of library catalogs and delivers in 5-10 days through Interlibrary Loan for CSUSM.

Useful Subject Terms
Can't think of terms to accurately describe your topic?  Library catalogs use specific subject headings to group related books together. 'Film' and 'review' are such large topics and can be defined in multiple ways, so you will want to think of ways to narrow it down, by title, director, genre, etc. Ask a librarian to help, or here are some examples to consider:


Journals provide access to new movie releases much more quickly than a book--either in print or online, many journals are indexed in the research databases. Two titles of special note are: 

  • Literature/Film Quarterly--print in the Library at PERIO PN1995.3 .L57 or through the Communications and Mass Media Database (1973-on)
  • New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film (2002-on in Communication and Mass Media Database)

When looking for film reviews in a research database, the easiest way is to type the title of the movie. Add the word 'review 'as an additional search term to help focus your search. If the movie is an adaptation of a book, adding the additional term 'movie' or 'film' will eliminate most book reviews. Some databases do not offer full text of the articles. Use the Check SFX for Availability button to check our other resources for full text. Specialized or foreign films that have been reviewed may also be found in some of the more specialized databases such as Ethnic Newswatch or Womens Studies International.

Academic Search Premier
Covers a wide array of subjects with full text for nearly 1,850 scholarly journals, including more than 1,250 peer-reviewed titles.

Art Full Text
Indexes over 550 journals covering a wide variety of the arts (film to fashion, classic to cutting edge, ancient to modern) from the US and around the world.

Communication & Mass Media Complete
Provides abstracts and full text for more than 200 communication journals.

Includes abstracts of articles from critical literary and language journals.

ProQuest Direct
Includes complete ABI Inform (business) and Newsstand publications. As these will be mostly reviews published in newspapers and more popular magazines, they may not be the scholarly quality your instructor wants. Check with your instructor or the librarian.


Internet Sources
These may not be as scholarly as published journal reviews, so be aware of the credentials of the reviewer.

Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
As determined by the New York Times reviewers with plot, and reviews. Reviews are accessible after registering.

Greatest Films
One individual's lists of the greatest films, but reviews, plot summaries, and histories of the films make this valuable along with a "Tips on Viewing Films Critically". Chronology, glossary, Academy Award winners and more.

Images: A Journal of Popular Film and Culture
Discussion of films, genres and directors along with reviews of both theatre-release movies and video.

Internet Movie Database
For basic information about a film, this is one of the more complete sites. The comments from other visitors are NOT scholarly, so don't rely on that part the site.

Movie Review Query Engine
This site collects reviews from a variety of resources for over 45,000 movies.

Rotten Tomatoes
A bit light-hearted in its treatment and again offers viewer comments as well as snips from published reviews. 

Roger Ebert
One of the more well-known popular movie reviewers, this site assembles his reviews from the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.