Kristofer Jenson

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

Allegiant stars Shailene Woodley (second from left) and Theo James (middle) as multi-faction heroes charged with leading an escape from dystopian Chicago. Photo: Summit Entertainment

Film review: Allegiant is overwhelmed by predictability

As maligned and oversaturated in the market as they are, there’s a real value to the dystopian young adult sci-fi/fantasy tropes that target the tween demographic and are, ideally, familiar to adults who have not forgotten their own journey to emotional maturity. When the genre works, these novels and films can be useful primers on […]

Zootopia stars Jason Bateman (Nick Wilde) and Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy Hops), who give new life to the well-worn genre of animated animals. Photo: Disney

Film review: Zootopia proves Disney’s growth is creative gold

Disney can be accused of many things—cultural appropriation, setting unreal expectations for children, censoring the brutality of old folk tales for mass audiences and thereby dulling their messages—but one thing Disney has mastered in recent years is maximizing the potential of its acquisitions. If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you have Disney’s […]

The controversial Gods of Egypt, starring Gerard Butler as the villain, fails through a preposterous, tangled plot and a disengaged cast. Photo: Lionsgate

Film Review: Gods of Egypt goes off the rails

At the advance screening for Alex Proyas’ megabudgeted misfire Gods of Egypt, someone in the row in front of me turned on his phone in plain sight of those behind him and started texting. Under normal circumstances, I’d be more than happy to yell at a complete stranger over this sort of thing, but when […]

Robert Eggers’ directorial debut, The Witch, stars Anya Taylor-Joy who is suspected of causing supernatural events in 17th-century New England. Photo: RAFY/A24

Film review: The Witch is an unsettling, skillful revelation

“A New-England Folktale” reads the subtitle for the much-hyped (all of it earned) The Witch, the feature film debut from writer-director Robert Eggers. One would be forgiven for interpreting this as a mark of revisionist horror, but there is nothing revisionist about Eggers’ film. In fact, there’s much that is revolutionary. The Witch follows a tight-knit […]

Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds as a physically and mentally scarred (anti) superhero with a personal agenda. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Film review: Deadpool plays it up to a niche genre

In the culmination of a tease that began with Ryan Reynolds’ pointless and tonally inconsistent cameo in 2009’s disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine comes the psychotic, violent, traumatized, fourth-wall-breaking and utterly hilarious Deadpool. Hilarious, that is, if you have more than a passing familiarity with the tropes of comic book films. The jokes in Deadpool tend […]

George Clooney stars as Baird Whitlock, a movie star kidnapped by a secret “study group” of communist screenwriters, in the Coen brothers’ latest farcical flick. Photo: Universal Pictures

Film review: Hail, Caesar! finds humor in the absurd

Hollywood farce Hail, Caesar! is a masterstroke of screwball absurdism from the Coen brothers, as they return with the subgenre of technically impeccable yet thematically anarchic comedy they practically invented. Harkening back to their output in the 1990s, Hail, Caesar! is a satirical genre parody and period piece in the vein of The Hudsucker Proxy […]

Charlie Kaufman’s animation feature Anomalisa is a fascinating, experimental film about breaking through the Fregoli delusion. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Film review: Anomalisa is confident and full of contradictions

True to classic Charlie Kaufman form, everything about the writer/co-director’s latest film, Anomalisa, is wholly unconventional from conception to execution, yet is entirely accessible to anyone who’s felt hopelessly disconnected from other people. It’s a film full of contradictions; it’s a stop-motion animated film with a hard-R rating about isolation and identity, but it’s funny. […]

Combat drama, 13 Hours, champions the American soldier while avoiding political overtures about the 2012 attack on American bases. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Film review: Michael Bay’s 13 Hours stays out of the political fray

When news first broke that Michael Bay would be making the inevitable Benghazi movie, the (non-tinfoil-hat-wearing) world was of two minds. The most prominent reaction was groaning at two of today’s most tiresome utterances: Michael Bay and Benghazi. Those two references in the same sentence was reason enough to dismiss 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers […]

Starring as a man left for dead in The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio braves the elements, hoping to emerge with an Oscar. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Film review: DiCaprio suffers beautifully in The Revenant

It may seem sarcastic or strange to praise a movie for having an unengaging story to tell, but in the case of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, its lack of reliance on narrative is precisely its saving grace. Thanks to unnecessary yet spectacular attention to detail, unrelenting technical perfectionism and a pathological commitment to discarding […]

Nick Cannon stars in Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, a hard-hitting toggle between Greek comedy and modern strife. Photo: Roadside Entertainment

Film review: Chi-Raq is Spike Lee’s latest wake-up call

Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is not a film with a message. It’s not an allegorical tale of tragedy with unstated yet entrenched sociopolitical implications made so Hollywood could pat itself on the back for its good conscience. Chi-Raq is a wake-up call in a world that seems increasingly determined to repeat the mistakes of history while […]

In the leading role of Dalton Trumbo, Bryan Cranston plays an eccentric screenwriter who was blacklisted as part of the Hollywood Ten in the ’40s. Photo: Bleeker Street

Film review: Trumbo views blacklisting from a different angle

Let Trumbo be the textbook example for future generations to distinguish between a good story with fine performances and snappy dialogue, and a good film. An entirely familiar period piece whose best attributes are reduced to window dressing, Trumbo is certainly not an unpleasant experience, but one drastically in need of a reduction in either […]

(Spotlight cues up for an Oscar, thanks to an all-star cast that includes Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo and Brian d’Arcy James, paired Tom McCarthy’s shrewd direction. Photo: Open Roads Films

Film review: Nuance and casting keep Spotlight on target

Arguably the first all-around good film to be released in time for Oscar season, Spotlight is predictably solid in most measurable ways, with one exceptional quality buried so far beneath the surface, perhaps imperceptible to anyone who does not live and work in the world of Boston media, that it’s difficult to tell if director […]

Action film regular Vin Diesel stars as The Last Witch Hunter in his self-produced, self-approved gaming fantasy flick. Photo: Summit Entertainment

Film review: The Last Witch Hunter games the system

Just when it was beginning to look like 2015 would not have a better choice for worst movie than The Boy Next Door, along comes the over-plotted, under-conceived and thoroughly charming Vin Diesel vehicle The Last Witch Hunter. Although the negative reviews are sure to be somewhat accurate—Diesel’s performance is too smirky and wooden to […]

Guillermo del Toro pushes Crimson Peak (starring Mia Wasikowska) beyond typical horror film expectations with cinematic style and nostalgia. Photo: Universal Pictures

Film review: Crimson Peak is more than just a ghost story

As tempting as it is to call the ghostly gothic romance Crimson Peak a return to form for writer-director Guillermo del Toro, let’s take a moment to truly appreciate his role in shaping the movie-going experience as we know it today. It’s been nine years since Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro’s dark fantasy that got surprising, […]

Matt Damon fits comfortably into his starring role in The Martian, one of the year’s most anticipated films. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Film review: The Martian goes beyond the typical sci-fi surface

Matt Damon may be the star of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, but science itself is the hero in this breezy yet breathless tale of survival against all odds, bucking Hollywood’s preference for redundant fiction over interesting science in its sci-fi. The characters are charming, the tension is palpable, nearly every joke lands, yet by putting […]

Stonewall stars Jeremy Irvine (right) in a sanitized depiction of the 1969 raid on the LGBTQ community in New York City. Photo: Roadside Attractions

Film review: Stonewall descends into mockery and misses the point

When word began to spread that director Roland Emmerich—the destruction junkie behind Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), The Day After Tomorrow and 2012—had made an offensively revisionist mockery of the Stonewall riots in a movie that is supposedly dedicated to their legacy, the punning headlines practically wrote themselves. Although it’s tempting to call Stonewall yet another […]

Black Mass boasts an all-star cast with Johnny Depp playing the lead of notorious Boston mobster Whitey Bulger. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: Black Mass is more rehash than revelation

Director Ridley Scott disappointed more than just his own fans when Prometheus was released in 2012. As it happened, Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) had been crafting an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s groundbreaking horror novella, At the Mountains of Madness, that apparently bore more than a passing similarity to Prometheus’ tale of humanity’s ancient […]

The Visit will cause you to rethink a weekend at grandma’s, thanks to the pairing of M. Night Shyamalan and Blumhouse production company. Photo: Universal Pictures

Film review: Shyamalan and Blumhouse collaborate for The Visit

In some ways, the uniting of M. Night Shyamalan and microbudget horror production company Blumhouse for The Visit couldn’t be more perfect, and not just because audiences groan at the sight of their names during previews. Both camps are fully capable of greatness—Shyamalan’s first two and a half films and Blumhouse’s Insidious, Creep and even […]