Kristofer Jenson

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

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 […]

In The Shape of Water, Sally Hawkins plays a janitor at a secret research laboratory who engages in an extraordinary romance with a man-fish creature. Photo courtesyTwentieth Century Fox

Movie review: The Shape of Water flows around distractions

You can always tell the parts of a film that directors feel personally attached to by what hits the viewer on an emotional level—and what doesn’t make sense on any level. With The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro transports us to a world where love between two outcasts—a woman and a misunderstood amphibious man-fish […]

Daisy Ridley returns as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Courtesy Disney PIctures

Movie review: The Last Jedi is a force to be reckoned with

Not only is Star Wars: The Last Jedi the best entry in the series since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, it may well be the first to truly break new cinematic ground since the 1977 original. Writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, the best episodes of “Breaking Bad”) employs the full arsenal of what a science […]

James Franco directs and stars in The Disaster Artist, a true story about a quirky fame-seeker who has made an unusual mark on Hollywood. Photo courtesy of A24

Movie review: The Disaster Artist is a zany success

Not many people are able to fail their way to success, to turn what ought to have been their most humiliating defeat into fame and profit. Then again, Tommy Wiseau is not most people. A perplexing mix of sincerity and complete mystery, Wiseau gained notoriety as the writer, director, producer and star of what is […]

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand plays a grief-stricken mother who will not be ignored. Expect the awards to pile up. Courtesy Fox Searchlight

Movie review: Frances McDormand is riveting in Three Billboards

Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri isn’t the only story about the blurred lines between doing the right thing and making a bad situation worse, but it’s the only one that matters. McDonagh has made a career of pitch-black satires that find the humor and humanity in characters who are experiencing genuine torment—the regret […]

Saoirse Ronan delivers another captivating performance as the star of Lady Bird, an early favorite for awards season, written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Courtesy of A24

Movie review: Lady Bird soars with its teenage perspective

Having written and co-directed films in the past, Greta Gerwig makes her debut as sole writer-director with Lady Bird, easily one of the year’s best films. Funny, insightful and deeply personal, yet wholly relatable for anyone who’s ever lived through the difficulty of attempting to define oneself early in life, Lady Bird is the first […]

Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in Murder on the Orient Express, in which he delivers a captivating performance as the formidable Inspector Hercule Poirot. Photo by 20th Century Fox

Movie review: Murder on the Orient Express arrives in style

While attempting a brief vacation from being the world’s greatest detective, Inspector Hercule Poirot has been reading the hell out of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. With every page, he cackles in delight, a reaction likely based as much on the opportunity to let someone else tell the stories as on the book […]

Viewing the collected works of Spike Lee reveals three decades of a fiercely talented technician using all means available to speak the truth in its purest form to anyone who will listen, and shout it at those who won’t.  (Credit Image: © Buckner/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)

American truths: Looking back to move forward with Spike Lee

As events that transpired in Charlottesville inform the national conversation on the politics of race and resistance, the Virginia Film Festival has placed the subject at the center of this year’s programming. And the Race in America series features some of the best filmmaking on the subject. Attending this year’s festival will be veteran filmmaker […]

Despite talent and credibility, nothing goes well in Suburbicon, a Coen brothers screenplay, directed by George Clooney, starring Matt Damon. Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Movie review: Suburbicon doesn’t make up for lost time

Smart and talented people who are aware of the fact that they are smart and talented sometimes have difficulty separating good ideas from the really, really bad ones. In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte, one of history’s greatest military minds, assembled the largest army to date to invade Russia, partially to ensure strategic dominance of Europe but […]

Only The Brave tells the personal story of Arizona’s Granite Mountain Hotshots, who battled a deadly wildfire in 2013. Columbia Pictures

Movie review: The plotline grows hazy in Only the Brave

In 2013, one of the deadliest wildfires in recent history claimed 25 lives, 19 of whom were members of an elite squad of firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. All but one lost their lives while struggling to contain the blaze, which appeared routine until wind and other factors allowed it to spread beyond […]

Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman, who delivers a breakout performance as Thurgood Marshall in the early days of his career. Courtesy Open Road Films

Movie review: Marshall succeeds on multiple levels

A civil rights superhero movie? Why not? For a country so enamored with our national mythology, we are remarkably inconsistent when it comes to cinematic depictions of our historical figures. After all, many of our founding fathers owned slaves, and many more recent icons emerged at a time when personal shortcomings could not be as easily […]

Judi Dench and Ali Fazal make an unlikely pair in Victoria & Abdul, a true story that suffers as a comedy. Courtesy Focus Features

Movie review: Victoria & Abdul chooses gags over substance

The story of Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim—“the Munshi”—is one worth telling. Karim, a humble clerk in Agra, was invited to participate in a ceremony for the queen, which resulted in the initiation of a peculiar friendship that defied convention and stirred controversy among the Royal Court. All of the ingredients are there: class antagonism, […]