Kristofer Jenson

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

Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek, captures the rise of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, from his ambitious beginnings as a performer
to the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid in 1985. Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox

Killer Queen: Rami Malek rocks Freddie Mercury biopic

It’s unfortunate that movies about exceptional people usually end up being so conventional. Queen was a band that defied expectations and broke down barriers, redefining what a rock band could be, and Freddie Mercury is not only one of history’s greatest frontmen but an icon for the alienated, particularly for LGBTQ fans. Bohemian Rhapsody, meanwhile, […]

Forty years later, Jamie Lee Curtis still thrills as Laurie Strode in the new Halloween.
Universal Pictures

Fresh blood: An all-new Halloween sheds the plague of sequels

We’ve had Halloween sequels for decades. What’s different this time? The same thing that’s different in found footage, possession movies, even the Amityville franchise: fresh blood, literally and figuratively. For many of the slasher sequels and remakes of the ’80s and ’90s, it was difficult to tell what the filmmaker disliked more, the audience or […]

In First Man, Ryan Gosling turns fear and trial and error into heroism in his portrayal of Neil Armstrong.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Mission control: First Man’s storyline falls out of step

As Janet Armstrong, Claire Foy exclaims, “You’re just boys playing with balsa wood models!” to the NASA scientists preventing her from listening to the direct feed of husband Neil’s (Ryan Gosling) test flight. It’s a terrific dressing down of administrators more concerned with public relations than personnel, and a fitting description of space travel as […]

Lady Gaga makes an impressive debut as a leading lady, and Bradley Cooper steps up as director in the (third) remake of A Star is Born. WARNER BROS.

Burning brightly: A Star is Born sizzles with emotion

A Star is Born is a movie about finally getting the chance to shine brightly, an appropriate theme for its two stars, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Already celebrities in their own right, the pair seize the opportunity to explore new dimensions of their art and connect with audiences in fresh ways, Cooper as a first-time […]

The animated Smallfoot’s feel-good story is told by a star-studded cast including Zendaya, James Corden, Common, and LeBron James. Image: Warner Bros.

Stepping stone: Smallfoot offers kids a pathway to big ideas

If you’re going to shamelessly mine classic films for plots, there are worse choices than Planet of the Apes. And if the goal is to keep a child occupied for two hours, you can do worse than Smallfoot. It’s the ultimate synthesis of what makes kids’ movies good without resorting to the lowest common denominator: […]

Jack Black starts in The House With A Clock In Its Wall. Image: Universal Pictures.

Making magic: Jack Black and Cate Blanchett cast a spell

Halloween season is off to a solid start with the pleasant surprise of the kid-friendly horror/fantasy/comedy The House with a Clock in Its Walls. Everything about this movie should be working against it. The marketing makes it seem like another expository, self-contained “adventure” that uses the fact that it’s for children to cover up inconsistencies […]

Wrestling with demons becomes boring as The Nun, starring Taissa Farmiga, devolves into a series of predictable jump scares. Photo courtesy New Line Cinema

Holy hell: The Nun sinks quickly into nonsense

Before we get to just how bad The Nun is, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the fact that it’s taken the so-called Conjuring Universe this long to deliver a full-on dud. The tone was effectively set by director James Wan in The Conjuring back in 2013, and even when its successors haven’t matched […]

In Mile 22, Mark Wahlberg leads a special ops mission to save a defector but fails to save the movie’s plot. Photo courtesy STX FILMS

Action fizzle: Mile 22 builds it up but cannot deliver

If Peter Berg was more interested in emulating Michael Mann than Michael Bay, Mile 22 might be something. An international thriller based around getting a high-value asset from point A to point B through extremely hostile territory within a very narrow window should be exciting from beginning to end, a claustrophobic story in the open […]

The cinematic vision
for The Life of Pi is a great template for
telling the story of the modern marathon. Image: 20th Century Fox

Two historical episodes that need movies now

There’s no one way to make a fact-based film, as 2018 has shown. From the satiric heights of The Death of Stalin to the self-parodic depths of Gotti, and with many major contenders to come (Bohemian Rhapsody, Beautiful Boy, Welcome To Marwen), all have different goals, from education, to poetic re-imaginings of familiar tales, to […]

Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis are besties who find themselves at the center of international intrigue in The Spy Who Dumped Me. LIONSGATE

The Spy Who Dumped Me gets smart in the end

Don’t judge The Spy Who Dumped Me by its first 20 minutes, because if you bail on what seems like another forgettable high-concept frenemy gross-out fest, you’ll miss the best hard-R comedy of the year since Game Night. Fueled by the terrific chemistry between stars Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon and deftly directed by Susanna […]

Tom Cruise continues to rule the action hero genre as Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Fallout. UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Taking the lead: Fallout is an MI franchise standout

For a series where every installment feels more like a product of inevitability than inspiration, credit is due to the Mission: Impossible series for its commitment to one-upping itself. If the cost of entry is an insane Tom Cruise stunt show every few years that’s punctuated with some spy silliness and a couple of laughs, […]

In The Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington is a vigilante Lyft driver who rescues a lot of people, but can't keep the plot from crashing. Courtesy of Sony Pictures.

The Equalizer 2 can’t match its predecessor

Denzel, by his presence alone, has the ability to make a bad movie good and a good movie great, and director Antoine Fuqua is best known for swinging for the stylistic fences on even the most boring dud of a story. That shared enthusiasm for craftsmanship is part of what made their previous collaborations on […]

In Sorry to Bother You, starring Lakeith Stanfield, writer-director Boots Riley combines comedy and fantasy to illuminate dark corners of society. Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.

Sorry to Bother You is seriously entertaining

Revolutions are always messy affairs, and so is revolutionary art. But without the trailblazing, reckless spirit of innovation and true inspiration, you don’t get works of originality and beauty like Sorry to Bother You, the debut film from writer-director, musician and overall Renaissance man Boots Riley of The Coup. Riley’s vision is a wide-ranging one, […]

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 […]