How We Rate Movies

At 499, we want our readers to see and understand how we rate and review our movies! We base each rating and review off of seven categories that we feel are essential to every movies success. We have also provided links our 499 Youtube School. This is a collection of playlists of superb videos that we love and that take us deeper in our understanding of movies. Let’s get into it.

Directing: The body as a whole.

This is the hardest of our categories to quantify, but also one of the easiest to identify. A good director draws out notable performances from his actors. The director is a visionary and someone who can see the end result before they even start.

Writing: The backbone.

This is how our characters develop, how our stories are told, and the way we relate and understand in deeper ways. We look for a tight plot, with no waste of words. We consider thematic elements, seeking a balance between revelatory and expository, we weigh tonal consistency, both within the film and in the greater genre.

Cinematography: The eyes.

This is how things are blocked, how creative is the picture, how is it capturing the story in a lens? Does every shot contribute to the story? We look for seamless transitions and aesthetically pleasing shots. Do certain elements contribute to tone, themes, etc. (perhaps color, a symbol, a landscape)?

Editing: The nervous system.

So much of this goes without being seen. This is how the movie is collected and delivered to us in the theater. Does each scene take us deeper? Does each scene creatively come together to allow us to feel and understand the message? How well-paced is the movie? Did we find ourselves checking our watches? (pacing, blocking, sound editing)

Design: The skin and style.

Design is a multifaceted element of movies, with things like CGI, production design, costume design, etc. Are practical effects and CGI used well or poorly? Are costumes compelling? Do the set pieces contribute to the plot or characterizations? Does the movie universe feel real, with actions behaving within the rules of the film’s universe?  

Acting: The mouth.

Actors tell the story and without good actors a good story can be lost. They are the essential element of every movie and the stars of the show. Sometimes a supporting actor blows us away; sometimes the whole cast is fantastic. Do we find their performance to add to the writing, plotting, and directing?

Score / Soundtrack: The ears.

Too often we forget what a large part music plays in our movies. It can elevate and deflate scenes and it plays a massive part in the tone of the film. Do we notice the soundtrack? Is it familiar and consistent? Does it embellish the film or distract?

Putting it into Practice

Here is a very quick breakdown of how I rated Ant-Man and the Wasp.  These are quick notes that I jotted down outside the theater that later made the foundation for my article.




Directing: 3 – No real identity or theme
Writing: 5 – Jokes landed about half the time, new FBI guy was especially funny.
Editing: 7 – A couple of unique editing sequences with the new tech.
Design: 8 – Awesome set pieces, CGI was top notch
Cinematography: 6 – Same grey, and unimaginative Marvel camerawork outside of a couple action sequences. 
Acting:   Jimmy Woo gave the most notable performance. 
Soundtrack:  3 Only one scene was elevated by music.