Kristofer Jenson

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

We Are Your Friends stars Zac Efron as an electronic dance DJ trying to break out of the San Fernando Valley house party scene. Photo: Warner Bros.

Film review: Zac Efron plays up the cute in new EDM rom-dram

There are two types of people who will find something of value in the EDM apologia We Are Your Friends: GoPro oversharers who post hours of vapid, slow-motion footage to Vimeo, and sad bros who lament that “Entourage” never had a Coachella episode. Certainly, there is a worthy story somewhere within the world of electronic […]

Straight Outta Compton looks at the rise of hip-hop group N.W.A. and its significant role in the pop culture revolution of the late ’80s. Photo: Universal Pictures

Film review: Straight Outta Compton biopic is for real

Inspired, electric and full of the same rawly honed talent that drove its subjects to their creative heights, if Straight Outta Compton were the last musical biopic ever made, it would have been worth suffering through all of the perfunctory crap the genre has produced in the past. Where most biopics lean on the lead […]

Meryl Streep steps up to the microphone in the aging rocker flick Ricki and the Flash. Photo: Sony Pictures

Film review: Meryl Streep shines as a rock ‘n’ roll frontwoman

In a film industry where every studio release is engineered to appeal either to all audiences or hyper-specific target demographics, the fact that a film like Ricki and the Flash found release is refreshing. Baby boomers/Gen Y, liberals/conservatives, wealthy/working class, no one subset of American filmgoers will find their entertainment whims catered to in this […]

Tom Cruise may be the blandest badass in the action movie genre, but he keeps coming back for more and so does his Mission Impossible audience. Photo: Sony Pictures

Film review: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Personal life and religious beliefs aside, it’s OK to love Tom Cruise for his increasingly cartoonish career, performing stunts that have gotten so extreme you have to wonder how he came about this motivation to defy death for a movie. Does his alarm clock tell him “You will die today” just so he has a […]

Jake Gyllenhaal’s physical transformation marks his commitment to the role of boxing champ Billy Hope in Southpaw. Photo: The Weinstein Co

Film review: Southpaw

Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua unfortunately shares a fatal flaw with the film’s lead character, light heavyweight champion Billy Hope: despite an indomitable work ethic and mountains of sincerity, all his best efforts fall apart when he doesn’t have a plan. Fuqua is capable of being a master craftsman, capable of making potentially forgettable crime yarns […]

Steven Spielberg’s iconic thriller Jaws has been scaring the wetsuits off summertime moviegoers for four decades. Photo: Universal Pictures

Sand pail list: Five movies to watch every summer

You have two options this summer: You can take Hollywood’s nostalgia bait and buy a ticket to one of its myriad sequels, prequels, reboots and spiritual successors to your favorite movies. Or you can call their bluff and just enjoy classic films on your own time, free from all the retconning and desperate self-parody. Here […]

Ian McKellen’s fine performance as the star of Mr. Holmes isn’t enough to add suspense to a slow plot that lacks resolution. Photo: Roadside Attractions

Film review: A new twist on Sherlock Holmes doesn’t add up

Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes is a perfectly serviceable adaptation of a latter-day Sherlock novel not written by Arthur Conan Doyle, starring a character whose episodic escapades are better suited for television. It’s a beautifully shot story that remains confined to about three locations. It’s an engaging mystery told through flashbacks that only remains unsolved because […]

In Magic Mike XXL, male stripper Channing Tatum (second from right) has left the biz, but misses the stage and rejoins his male entertainer buddies for one last dance tour. Photo: Warner Bros

Film review: Magic Mike delivers in an encore performance

Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012, with a muscle-centric marketing campaign that no doubt sold tickets but failed to notify audiences that this film was actually the work of a master director at the top of his game. Stylistically impressive, tonally sophisticated beyond its straightforward narrative with a […]

Film review: MacFarlane drives Ted 2 off the laugh track

Film review: MacFarlane drives Ted 2 off the laugh track

If Ted 2 proves anything, it’s that Seth MacFarlane cannot be trusted with his own success. MacFarlane—a demonstrably talented, funny and often thoughtful individual—has a nasty habit of doing something fun and original that connects with critics and audiences, only to capitalize on his success with vanity projects that rely more on smugness and self-satisfaction […]

Touted as an instant classic, Pixar’s Inside Out features an all-star cast voicing the conflicted emotions of a tweenage girl. Photo: Walt Disney Studios

Film review: Pixar makes an emotional breakthrough with Inside Out

After several years of leaning heavily on sequels and good-but-not-great properties, the Pixar we all know and love is back with Inside Out to reclaim its title as a beacon of emotional honesty in the spastic, cynical world of family entertainment. Its long history of tugging at audience’s heartstrings by making us empathize with unlikely […]

Newly engineered dinosaurs rush in to to help Chris Pratt save the predictable plot in Jurassic World. Photo: Universal Pictures

Film review: Jurassic World leans on the franchise’s past

  Peppered throughout Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World are self-aware, and self-defeating, references to the original 1993 film and what one can only imagine as the sequels to come; from a techie in a vintage Jurassic Park t-shirt to a military grunt who imagines a world in which trained velociraptors are weaponized and sent into combat […]

With the help of an all-star supporting case, Melissa McCarthy makes the most of her versatile talent in the intrigue comedy Spy. Photo: 20th Century Fox

Film review: Spy may be the summer’s sleeper hit

It may have taken four years of failed vehicles and forced cameos, but Melissa McCarthy finally hits her stride in Spy. Packaged and marketed as more of the same from McCarthy—an alternately crass and sincere broad comedy that misunderstands the difference between empathy and mockery—the slyly progressive and engaging Spy may end up being the […]

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 […]