Kristofer Jenson

Contributing writer to C-Ville Weekly. Associate Film Editor of DigBoston. Host of Spoilerpiece Theatre.

The First Purge is the fourth in a series that centers around a sociological experiment in which an annual 12-hour period of the legalization of crime, including murder, is implemented to lower the crime rate for the rest of the year. Courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Movie review: The First Purge offers catharsis through crisis

Credit to those responsible for the Purge series for recognizing its potential for redemption. What began as yet another movie with a promising premise but disappointing execution has become the ultimate vessel for social and political commentary in our age of stratification. The First Purge is, fittingly, the first one in the series to be […]

Benicio Del Toro returns in the morally ambivalent sequel Sicario: Day of the Soldado. Courtesy Sony Pictures

Movie review: Badassery undermines Sicario: Day of the Soldado

The U.S. government’s current definition of terrorism, according to Sicario: Day of the Soldado’s Secretary of Defense James Riley (Matthew Modine), is the use of violence to achieve political ends. Riley says this to mercenary Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who has just come back from Somalia where he killed a man’s brother as an interrogation […]

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt is a dud that stands to topple the popular dinosaur franchise. Courtesy of Universal Studios.

Jurassic’s Fallen Kingdom careens off beaten path

Why is it that sequels so bent on continuing stories and fleshing out backstories are much more confusing? It’s a curious thing that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom places such a high premium on plot continuity with little regard for why anyone liked Jurassic Park in the first place. What began as a visually thrilling summer […]

Despite being packed with talent, including Jon Hamm, Ed Helms and Jake Johnson, Tag lacks comedic inspiration. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Movie review: Tag misses the mark between laughs

Is a bad movie made better because it’s funny, or is a funny movie made worse because it’s bad? And if it’s occasionally hilarious but totally dead in the water otherwise, what are you left with? So it is with Tag, a totally disposable, predictable, unfunny rehashing of tired tropes and gags we’ve seen done […]

With Hereditary, writer-director Ari Aster debuts as a master of dread, creating a “nightmare with its own logic.” Courtesy A24 Films

Movie review: Hereditary taps the dark side of the psyche

Ari Aster’s Hereditary may be the best, scariest, and most effective American horror film in years. Not because it has the loudest scares, not because its ghosts have the creepiest faces, and not because its deaths are the most gruesome (though it does have its share). Writer-director Aster’s feature film debut builds dread at an […]

Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley star in Adrift, a based-on-true-events story about a couple that becomes stranded at sea after a hurricane. STX Films

Movie review: Shailene Woodley steers the action in Adrift

The will to survive is the single most primal instinct in our nature, one that strips away all of the things we use to define ourselves as individuals. Adrift, based on a true story, follows Tami (Shailene Woodley) and Richard (Sam Claflin) on their struggle to find either land or rescue as they float aimlessly […]

Deadpool 2 starring Ryan Reynolds loses the genre-busting momentum established in the first film. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie review: Deadpool 2 suffers a sophomore slump

With Deadpool 2, the deconstruction becomes the norm. That’s not necessarily a bad thing given how bloated and redundant the X-Men franchise has become, and how terrifically its predecessor broke every taboo while delivering a solid film with a real story of its own. But how do you skewer yourself when you’ve become the new […]

In the low-on-laughs comedy, Life of the Party, Melissa McCarthy deals with a personal crisis by going back to school. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie review: Life of the Party relies on recycled gags

Credit is due to Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy for their efforts to inject meaningful emotions into broad comedies without punching down or relying on unwarranted meanness for their punchlines. But it would help if those punchlines were funny. Back in 2013, their collaboration on Tammy used McCarthy’s star power to tell a sweet story […]

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson adds likability and sizable skills to make Rampage an action thriller worthy of your dollars. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie review: Rampage delivers the action without a wink

There’s really only one way to sell the story of a Special Forces veteran and anti-poaching commando turned conservationist who’s helping his overgrown gorilla friend overcome anger issues to stop a flying porcupine-wolf and a crocodile-leviathan from destroying Chicago: completely straight-faced. And if there’s one face in the movie business capable of that level of […]

In Ready Player One, starring Tye Sheridan, the death of Oasis creator James Halliday spurs gunters on a virtual Easter egg hunt where pop culture riddles hold the key to the game’s ultimate prize. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie review: Ready Player One turns brain games mindless

Before we get into just how much Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One misses the mark, it’s worth noting that its badness has nothing to do with video games and the people who enjoy them. Critics often come down harder on movies about subcultures they disapprove of or simply haven’t taken the time to understand, which […]

The monster battle sequel Pacific Rim Uprising is flashier than its predecessor, but also boring. Courtesy Universal Pictures

Movie review: Pacific Rim Uprising stomps through subplots

Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim—like pretty much all of his films, including The Shape of Water—was a tribute to the genres he loved that lack mainstream recognition, in this case a fusion of Toho kaiju monsters and mech suit anime where there is as much drama inside the suits as there is out, most notably […]

licia Vikander gives a winning performance in Tomb Raider, an otherwise clunky cinematic take on the popular video game. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie review: The new Tomb Raider is full of glitches

You have to respect when a director clearly loves the material and subject of his movie, and when a performer is perfectly cast and goes the extra mile to give the character extra weight. You just don’t have to like it. So it goes with Tomb Raider and critic favorite Alicia Vikander, who is finally […]

Despite an excellent performance, Jennifer Lawrence can’t save the convoluted plot of Red Sparrow. Courtesy Warne Bros.

Movie review: Red Sparrow flutters but never quite lands

In Red Sparrow, a fallen Russian ballerina (Jennifer Lawrence) is given an impossible choice—to sacrifice her free will and dignity for her country by becoming a “sparrow” trained in the art of exploiting the sexual vulnerabilities of her targets, or lose the apartment and medical coverage provided by the Bolshoi. That is, until the plot […]

Game Night is a surprisingly satisfying thriller-comedy with an excellent cast that includes Rachel Adams and Jason Bateman (far right). Courtesy Warner Bros.

Movie Review: Game Night wins with humor and tension

Game Night is a funny, exciting thriller-comedy with fun performances and a story that keeps you guessing. Who in the world saw this coming? Certainly not whoever edited the trailer, which sold it as another underwritten yarn with an on-the-nose title about insufferable schmucks who get in over their heads and shout about things seconds […]

In Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther, the superhero (Chadwick Boseman) battles an outside threat to the peace and harmony of his home nation Wakanda. Courtesy Disney/Marvel

Movie review: Black Panther unites a fantastic vision

With the release of Black Panther, it’s tempting to reflect on how far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come in 10 years, and how it has essentially reinvented the film industry and become the standard bearer for quality mass entertainment in a genre that has rarely risen above straight-to-video viability. But that would take away […]

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan return as the newly married Greys in the less kinky, more frivolous Fifty Shades Freed. Courtesy Universal Pictures

Fifty Shades Freed pales as softcore porn

This whole thing started as porn, right? Like, I’m not making that up, am I? I don’t say that to ridicule anyone’s idea of what’s sexy—you do you and have fun doing it, don’t apologize if no one’s getting hurt—it’s just puzzling to sit through a silly, directionless adoption/kidnapping intrigue with a vague notion that […]

Chinatown stars Jack Nicholson and was the last film that director Roman Polanski made in the United States before fleeing the country while awaiting sentencing for unlawful sex with a minor. Polanski has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system since 1978. ©SNAP/Entertainment Pictures/ZUMAPRESS

Screens: We can’t separate art from the artist

The rise of Time’s Up, the movement challenging sexism, harassment and abuse against women in the entertainment industry, has led to a tone deaf, contemptible yet predictable backlash. Spend enough time on social media and you’ll see two main counterarguments: There’s a witch hunt by women seeking fame and money, or we should focus on […]

Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post, a riveting look at politics inside and outside of the WaPo newsroom. Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Movie review: The Post triumphs with a truth-seeking narrative

Alfred Hitchcock once noted that Steven Spielberg “is the first one of us who doesn’t see the proscenium arch,” referring to his ability to expand the visual and metaphorical limits of what could be displayed on a screen. The late-career political films of Spielberg would already be remarkable on their own terms, even if they […]