It’s quite wonderful that the Fifty Shades of Grey series became one of the best selling set of books of all time. Not because it represented a change in the literary landscape for the better, no definitely not that. No, just so we movie critics who have to go watch Transformers: The Last Knight in a few weeks can thumb our noses at those snooty book critics who think their medium is so much better. Deal with that crap and all the rip-offs there of for next few years. But unfortunately whatever bad and popular hits the book world usually gets to the movie world soon enough so we have Fifty Shades Darker. Bugger.
Even though their relationship ended badly last time, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson, Black Mass) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan, The Fall) get back together. However this time, Christian agrees not to force Ana to agree to any of his strict rules and will also cut down on the BDSM so they can enjoy what he thinks is a vanilla relationship.
And boy is this movie boring. Boring, boring, boring. And just looking at that synopsis you can see why, they cut out the whole selling point for this series. The movie was always going to struggle because it was adapting erotica when they couldn’t go full-out and show said sex acts, it’d be like if you wanted a 12A version of Debbie Does Dallas, but when it takes out the BDSM it takes out the unique element that separated the film from any other movie that shows sex happening. So in a movie that makes sex the set piece event, stopping the film dead in its tracks on several different occasions to show them, they are no different to the ones that pepper the ones we seen in other movies. There’s a shower sex scene that’s barely different to the one you see in Skyfall, and that film is actually good and has stuff other than sex to interest you.
It’s not as if there is much different between the several different sex scenes you see in this movie. They are all shot the same, paced the same and all have the terrible drone of a song I’m sure you can buy on the soundtrack. These sex songs are no Marvin Gaye I can tell you, and I’m not meaning that crappy Charlie Puth song either. The only difference is there are some slight BDSM elements to some sex scenes, and none to others. And quite honestly, I’m now done writing about BDSM sex in reviews that my mum sometimes read. Hi mum, bet you thought I’d be doing a lot better by now didn’t you!
Fifty Shades Darker seems to hate anything that could potentially be interesting though, extinguishing any hopes something good could happen with a chilling efficiency. So while we have a lot of pointless scenes between Christian and Ana where they share the total sum of zero chemistry, I am damn sure the two actors hate each other, the stuff that could be good is glossed over. For instance we meet Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger, Batman) who was Christian’s dominant and the man who introduced him to this sort of sex. This could be interesting to see as we could see why Christian is who he is, but instead Kim Basinger is wasted giving Ana ominous warnings and then gets soap opera-ed out of the plot. There’s also Leila (Bella Heathcote, Dark Shadows) who is a previous submissive of Christian and starts stalking Ana. Again, potentially interesting see the effect Christian has on people and how Ana sees someone else whose been involved with him. Done in a scene. Got to get a crappy Zayn Malik soundtracked sex scene in after all!
And to be quite frank that’s nothing compared to the script which remains the worst part of this movie. I will praise the scriptwriters somewhat, having just seen passages from the book it’s miracle that they made something semi-coherent out of it at all, but it is still incredibly bad. The actors are barely given a chance to do any passable work with some of the material they’ve been given and dialogue that is probably ripped from the book. How can Jamie Dornan, a very good actor I really hope doesn’t go down with the ship on this one, say a line like ‘I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank you?’ and sound in any way like a real person in a real relationship. It hinders everything and kills the movie dead.
Fifty Shades Darker has tried to improve the Christian Grey character somewhat. I criticised the original for glorifying a guy whose personal theme should have been Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines as I swear he crossed that line. They have tried to make him less controlling and emotionally manipulative, it’s actually the point of the plot in many ways. But he is still an insanely creepy character that the movie is making out as a good person, trying to use the clichéd trope of making him broken so that women want to fix him. His introduction into the movie is buying all the portraits of Ana in an art show, her shyness in this happening totally makes her relatable you guys, and then when called out on it, answering ‘I don’t like strangers gawking at you’. That isn’t romantic, that is a red light and you should be asking for Angela at the bar if this happens.
I know some think Fifty Shades Darker is actually so bad it’s good but apart from the odd terrible line which may get a titter out of you, it really isn’t your new camp favourite. This is insanely boring because there are no interesting plot points with the movie moving at a snail’s pace unless it encounters something that could actually make the movie good, when then it speeds off like an F1 car into the distance. The sex scenes also are boringly shot as they are same thing over and over again and I can’t see how anyone could get anything out of this. If you want a good sexual thriller, go watch Basic Instinct. If you want a sexual thrill, go watch a porno.