The internet has made everyone a critic. Entertainment and media websites are designed upon the principle that the masses have the right to evaluate and rate the quality of a book, restaurant, or film right alongside the professional critics. Look no further than rottentomatoes.com which puts the aggregate rating of a film by critics right next to that of the general audience.
The key thing to remember is that the general public tends to evaluate a film based on their experience viewing it, a reaction that may be more emotional than critical. The best professional critics, however, rely on literary and film theory to provide a review that is based on critical thinking. In many cases, these critics are relying on Bloom’s Taxonomy — whether they know it or now.
First postulated in 1956 as a way of classifying learning objectives in education, Bloom’s taxonomy outlines the stages of critical thinking as a pyramid. As one moves up the pyramid, one is required to exercise higher and higher orders of critical thinking. Educators, it was argued, needed to teach student how to navigate each of the levels of critical thinking.
There are three distinct areas of critical thinking:
Cognitive — commonly abbreviated as knowing/head
Affective — feeling/heart
Psychomotor — doing/hands
In general, film criticism follows the first “domain” almost exclusively.
When critics refer to film history, the body of work of the director, writer, and actors, and their understanding of the terms of the industry in a specific review, they are demonstrating their knowledge — the first level of the cognitive domain.
Comprehension involves showing they understand the ideas and themes of the film while application may be demonstrated by using that understanding to pose a new question or idea.
The bulk of any review may be analysis of the elements, relationships, and structure of the film followed by synthesis of the ideas in a different way, such as noticing relationships between one film and another.
Lastly, critics will evaluate the film as a whole, offering their rating and whether they recommend it to others. This evaluation should build from the previous information and summarize the evidence that led to the final judgment.
The Affective domain may sometimes seep into a professional review as even the hard-boiled critic will occasionally have an emotional reaction to a film. This domain focuses on emotional reactions and the ability to empathize with the pain or joy or others, which is a primary goal of many filmmakers. The stages involved in Affective thinking are receiving, responding, valuing, organizing, and characterizing.
Psychomotor has less to do with film reviews as it focuses on learning physical skills, such as operating tools manipulating instruments. The stages involved here are perception, set (readiness to act), guided response, mechanism, complex overt response, adaptation, and origination.
Educators looking for tips on how to teach Bloom’s Taxonomy should check out http://www.lessonplanet.com/article/english/blooming-the-gospel-according-to-holden.