Kristofer Jenson

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

Director Brad Bird constructs a idealistic search for a brighter future in Disney’s societal fixer-upper Tomorrowland. Photo: Walt Disney Studios

Film review: Tomorrowland takes good intentions over the edge

There is far more wrong than right with Disney’s Tomorrowland, but there is one bright, gleaming asset to the film that should be taken into as much consideration as its (many, many) setbacks. It’s been noted that apocalypse fatigue has set in among moviegoers who are beginning to wonder how many times they can witness […]

Charlize Theron stars in Mad Max: Fury Road, a cinematically thrilling revival of the vagabond Aussie policeman’s post-apocalyptic battles. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: Fury Road takes the Mad Max series to new greatness

There have been plenty of good/above average blockbusters in recent years that leave you thrilled, invigorated, entertained and properly conditioned to buy the eventual mega-deluxe Blu-ray special edition. But Mad Max: Fury Road is no ordinary blockbuster. You won’t just be entertained. You’ll wonder why anyone has ever bothered to make a movie that isn’t […]

Carey Mulligan stars as a young woman standing firm in the face of social pressure to marry in Far from the Madding Crowd. Photo: Fox Searchlight

Film review: Far from the Madding Crowd returns with grace

Call it an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s breakthrough “Victorian realist” romance novel, call it a remake of John Schlesinger’s 1967 film starring Julie Christie, but whatever you do, don’t call Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd derivative. Like Hardy and Schlesinger before him, Vinterberg uses the relatively straightforward tale of an independent-minded woman caught […]

Russell Crowe (right) makes his directorial debut and stars in The Water Diviner, an Australian epic that unfolds around the World War I Gallipoli Campaign. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: The Water Diviner finds beauty through tragedy

Nearly a century after the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-1916, the national consciousness of both Turkey and Australia remain intertwined. The lingering effects of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) campaign led directly to the rise of the Turkish Nationalist Movement, while Anzac Day is considered a commemoration of a defining moment in Australian […]

Jonah Hill and James Franco match wits in True Story, based on the relationship between an accused man awaiting trial and a discredited journalist. Photo: Fox Searchlight

Film review: True Story tells it a bit too straight

There is a sliding scale of effectiveness for movies based on true stories. At the upper end are films like Lawrence of Arabia, Goodfellas or City of God, where gifted artists at the top of their game have found meaning and inspiration in someone else’s life and have bent the facts in order to get […]

Scott Eastwood (yes, Clint’s son) stars in The Longest Ride, a dramatic love story in a rodeo setting filled with saccharine and sacrifice. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Film review: The Longest Ride plays to short attention spans

The Longest Ride, like all Nicholas Sparks movies, is overlong, contrived and blatant in its pandering. Yet by being one of the most preposterous Sparks adaptations yet—a mishmash of pop-country neo-Americana with Barry Levinson-esque nostalgia and good old-fashioned sexy wish fulfillment—there is enjoyment (or at least begrudging respect) to be found in how openly and […]

Director Jason Wan’s Furious franchise debut fuels No. 7 with enough humor, action and speed to keep critics at bay. Photo: Universal Pictures

Film review: Fast & Furious franchise gains new traction

The redemption of The Fast and The Furious series, from critical punching bag to national treasure so late in the game, is something of a minor miracle with few equivalents in movie history. Think back to the mid-2000s when each new release was met with disbelief and jokes about its increasingly contrived titles that awkwardly […]

Despite the talent-packed combo of Kevin Hart (left) and Will Ferrell, Get Hard meanders too far into unfunny territory. Photo: Warner Bros.

Talent search: Get Hard shakes down a stand-up cast

Was prison rape even funny to begin with? The team behind Get Hard seems to think it’s the funniest thing in the world, maybe the only thing that’s ever been funny. A few jokes here and there are to be expected—though it’ll be nice, not to mention not gross, when we no longer delight at […]

Awkwardly cast as an action hero, Sean Penn flounders in the lead role of The Gunman despite direction by genre trendsetter Pierre Morel. Photo: Open Road Films

Film review: The Gunman is an award-winners’ failure

There are bad movies, there are really bad movies, there are atrocities committed against the intelligence of paying crowds that call themselves movies, and then there’s The Gunman. Watching it will make you forget that movies that aren’t this bad exist at all. It’s so godawful that even calling it bad is an insult to […]

Despite an engaging cast, the update on Cinderella starring Lily James (above) fails to surpass the timeless charm of the original animated version. Photo: Disney

Film review: The new Cinderella doesn’t fill the shoe

There is a sneaky sort of rebelliousness in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella—in the way it pushes back against the tide of revisionism and misdirected irony that has overtaken family entertainment in recent years. Sincere instead of sarcastic, elegant instead of flashy, and wishing to enchant audiences with charm instead of hypnotizing them with antics, Branagh’s intentions […]

Focus stars Will Smith and Margot Robbie, who heat up the screen as con artists who meet their match in each other. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: Will Smith continues his magical ride in Focus

No movie star is as big as Will Smith, and nobody knows that better than Smith himself. With a swagger that rarely plays as charming, and the most enviable blockbuster-to-bomb ratio in Hollywood, Smith has carried duds to box office success through sheer star power and willed megabudget vanity projects into existence for the sole […]

Robbie Amell and Mae Whitman star in The DUFF, an unfunny new twist on social torture for high school classmates. Photo: CBS Films

Film review: The DUFF lacks too many laughs to be funny

Why is popularity always the reward for quirky high schoolers in movies where the whole plot is about learning to be happy without it? You don’t celebrate your twelfth step with a shot, you don’t get a mansion after reaching nirvana, but somehow our teenage morality scripts are still peddling the idea that trying to […]

Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) succumbs to the wishes of Jamie Dornan, who wears the pants as the sexually dominant billionaire
Christian Grey. Photo: Universal Pictures

Over easy: Fifty Shades of Grey is beautiful to look at

I don’t know who or what director Sam Taylor-Johnson sacrificed to the god of false bondage, but it worked: Fifty Shades of Grey is the best film it could have possibly been given the circumstances. This is quite a different thing from saying it’s good. It’s not. At its core, this adaptation of E.L. James’ notoriously […]

Passion cannot overcome confusion in the new Wachowski-directed sci-fi thriller Jupiter Ascending starring Channing Tatum. Photo: Warner Bros.

Action overload: Lack of cohesion deflates Jupiter Ascending

Every Wachowski movie, for better or worse, is a passion project. There is no theme, visual detail, character or line of dialogue to which the sibling duo does not have a deep personal attachment, from the hopeful nihilism of The Matrix to Cloud Atlas’ meditation on reincarnation and the risk and reward of realizing your […]

The “true” story in Black or White rings false despite pairing the adorable Jillian Estell with a decent performance by Kevin Costner. Photo: Relativity Media

Film review: Black or White lacks clarity on the big screen

“It’s not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong,” pleads wealthy lawyer Elliott Anderson (Kevin Costner) before a courtroom in defense of maintaining sole custody of his biracial granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell). Up until this moment, Black or White almost works. The entire film has been building to this moment, the linchpin of […]

Ryan Guzman is a student with a fatal attraction to his teacher, played by Jennifer Lopez in The Boy Next Door. Photo: Universal Pictures.

Film review: The gratuitous joyride of The Boy Next Door

What a rare pleasure it is to experience something that is truly, unmistakably awful. No, really; in an age where the knowing, ironic wink of an eye or a single act of ham-handed self deprecation is applauded even if the story is unwatchable, we have forgotten the cathartic joy that comes from watching an unambiguously […]

Michael Mann’s cyber-thriller Blackhat stars Chris Hemsworth as a brains and brawn code jockey pitted against a villainous hacker. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Film review: Blackhat plot remains in the cloud

“Style over substance” is not generally a criticism that sticks to Michael Mann, a singular voice among directors for his unique take on suspense and action. Though there is no shortage of machine gun fire and high speed chases in his films, Mann gives equal weight to small moments of tension or introspection, gorgeous scenery […]

David Oyelowo, who stars as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, is predicted to sweep the Hollywood awards season for his leading role. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Film review: Selma is a well-crafted portrait of a moment

Among the many artistic and political accomplishments of Ava DuVernay’s Selma is the full embodiment of grassroots activism. After generations of society’s dismantling of the breadth of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s political and ethical contributions down to a single sound bite (that is routinely misappropriated), DuVernay has done King and the world a favor by […]

Joaquin Phoenix leads a motley ensemble through Inherent Vice, set in 1970 Los Angeles and populated by outrageous, larger than life characters. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Film review: Paul Thomas Anderson breaks down Inherent Vice

When a movie is as challenging and divisive as Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, the two reviews to be wary of are the dismissal on grounds of incoherence, and overwhelming praise, full of heady analysis that is itself incoherent. Both approaches make use of the passive voice—“impossible to understand” instead of […]

Chris Rock wrote, directed and stars in Top Five, a story about a comedian dealing with the challenges and triumphs of fame. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Film review: Chris Rock comes close in Top Five

Top Five is not Chris Rock’s first time in the director’s chair, but it is the first time he’s seemed truly comfortable sitting there. For far too long, Rock’s film output has been a pale reflection of his fiery, fearless stand-up persona, consisting mostly of awkwardly paced PG-13 fare or misguided romantic farce. Not that […]

Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis start their own business while battling a goofy plot in Horrible Bosses 2. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Film review: Horrible Bosses 2 falls back on the original

During one of the many minutes-long stretches of Horrible Bosses 2 that pass by without a single chuckle, your mind may start to wander as you realize how strangely and unintentionally meta it is that a movie about self-employment would become a victim of its own success. It’s as though the makers of the first […]

Jennifer Lawrence is back in Katniss’ boots and kicking off a revolution in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Publicity photo.

Film review: Mockingjay Part 1 leaves the audience in limbo

While functionally little more than a cliffhanger setup for the trilogy-and-a-half’s presumably action-packed finale, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 boasts the least likely plot in a PG-13 blockbuster in recent memory. And though, as with most young adult fiction, the central conflict boils down to which of two competing romantic interests the lead character […]