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Film Review – Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

In the midst of a crowded weekend for movies making their theatrical release, here’s a review for the one film you should avoid at all costs, Fifty Shades Darker.  Despite my warning, I’d bet on a lot of you seeing this film.  So, this review will remain spoiler free so that you can enjoy all the partial nudity for yourself in the theater.

Synopsis

Fifty Shades Darker is directed by James Foley and follows Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprising their roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.  The film begins shortly after the conclusion of Fifty Shades of Grey with Anastasia no longer seeing Christian.  However, after getting back together and making promises to each other to not harbor any secrets, Anastasia begins to learn that Christian’s past is a little darker than she once thought.

fifty shades darker

image via Huffington Post Canada

Background

I’d like to think that I fall in line with most people in saying that Fifty Shades of Grey was a pretty terrible movie.  Aside from bashing the soft-core pornography in the movie, the film was just a complete bore, failing to create a compelling story line around the central relationship, which probably comes from the book being adapted from Twilight fan fiction, but I digress.

The film has literally one job: to give us a believable romance that creates for more steamy sex scenes, but the chemistry between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan was practically nonexistent in the first movie.  I feel somewhat bad for both these actors getting a lot of hate for these movies since they are very effective actors in other roles.  They just don’t seem to be given much to do with these terrible scripts.

fifty shades darker

image via Variety

But alas, Fifty Shades of Grey made over half a billion dollars worldwide, so it was obvious that a sequel was coming.  But is Fifty Shades Darker an improvement over the movie?

If you can believe it, Fifty Shades Darker is objectively worse.

What I Liked

Starting out with a positive, the connection between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan is noticeably better (although they really couldn’t get any worse), allowing you to watch the film without cringing at every word of dialogue they say to each other.

But that’s where the positives run out for this movie.

fifty shades darker

image via Variety

What I Didn’t Like

I really had trouble supplying a plot synopsis for this movie earlier in the article, mostly because the film realistically has no plot.  Conflicts arise but they’re resolved so quickly that absolutely none of them have a lasting effect on the characters.  There’s no through-line to the plot where a character struggles with some type of conflict throughout the entirety of the movie.  Things just happen, then they’re over, making for an incredibly boring experience at the movies where the characters have absolutely nothing to do.

These issues come from a horribly written script by Niall Leonard, who happens to be E.L. James’ husband (the author of the Fifty Shades movies).  Universal Studios gave James a ton of autonomy in making these movies, so when the first one failed to receive praise from critics, James went out of her way to make her husband, who had never written a screenplay before, the sole writer of the movie.  Obviously this change didn’t work out, because Fifty Shades Darker is one of the worst written movies of the past few years.

fifty shades darker

image via MovieWeb

What I Didn’t Like…Continued

The film, however, does have a ton of hilarious moments, all of which were not intended.  Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan regularly have to say laughably bad dialogue to each other, leading to some chuckles as the actors do their best to seem competent.  Because conflicts abruptly enter and exit the movie, they’re so comical that you can’t take the movie seriously.  My favorite moments include a helicopter and a beat drop during a sex scene.  They’re both so terrible, but I was in tears from laughter because of them.

However, Fifty Shades Darker could have been salvaged (maybe) if it had a few sexy scenes for its target audience.  But nothing about this movie is sexy.  Most, if not all, of these supposed “steamy” scenes are incredibly off-putting and are mixed with some really strange music choices, leading to a bunch of duds that do nothing to break up the excessively boring scenes surrounding them.

fifty shades darker

image via StereoTag

Fifty Shades Darker overall is just a complete disaster and it’s obvious that the people involved didn’t know how to construct a cohesive movie.  As Anastasia starts her new job at a publishing company, the camera pans to one of her coworkers.  The worker has a comically large dictionary on her desk.  The set designer felt that it was a good idea, you know, she reads books!  This is Fifty Shades Darker in a nutshell.  The material is simply being handled by incompetent people making irrational decisions.

Conclusion

Don’t see this movie, it doesn’t deserve your hard-earned money.  There are plenty of solid options to go out and see.  This movie doesn’t deserve your time.  It’s clear that the people involved didn’t care about the final product.  It panders to the lowest denominator which is why Fifty Shades Darker gets an F.

fifty shades darker

image via ABC News

________________________________________

Thanks for reading!  Have you seen Fifty Shades Darker (please don’t)?  Comment down below with your thoughts!

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to like, share, and subscribe.

What movie topic should I discuss next?  Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

57 Responses

  1. Terry Eh! says:

    So what your saying then, is you didn’t get it !
    Much better than “The story of O”
    I think she kinda fumbled at the goal line, in the first one though.
    But then that led to a great sequel.

    • Nick Kush says:

      So because I didn’t like the film I don’t understand it? That seems like a leap in logic that vastly undermines my intelligence.

      You’re free to like what you please (and I would never stop anyone from doing so), but claiming that I dont’t understand the material based on a negative review is a tad ludicrous.

  2. I am one of a few women how never ever wanted to read or watch this crap. I was given a review copy and found it so bad I made it into three chapters before I lost the will to live. I feel for you having to go and watch this, but want to commend you in doing so you are stronger willed that I! I think I will just stick to watching the secretary instead☺️

  3. Jasmine M says:

    I immediately had to smile and go into snack-munching mode mentally (think grabbing a bag of chips and sitting down for the show, haha) when I saw that you had a review up for this one, but I didn’t realize the news would be this good! They’ve actually managed to make it worse?! No intention of seeing either one, but this is just hilarious to me, and I look forward to reading more accounts from the brave souls who’ve slogged through it.

    My next stop is reading your review of “The Room,” so I guess there’s a pattern for me today!

    • Nick Kush says:

      Lol! My reviews are objective as possible too. It’s easy to hate on Fifty Shades just for its subject matter, but it’s legitimately a horribly constructed film.

  4. Jasmine M says:

    “Fifty Shades Darker overall is just a complete disaster and its obvious that the people involved didn’t know how to construct a cohesive movie. When we first see Anastasia at her new job at a publishing company, the camera pans to one of her coworkers who is working on a reading a book. The set designer felt that it was a good idea to put a massive dictionary opened to the side of her desk, you know, because she reads books! This of Fifty Shades Darker in a nutshell. The material is simply being handled by incompetent people making irrational decisions.”

    There’s a typo or two in the first and second sentences of this paragraph:

    “A reading a book” & “its obvious.”

    (Not nitpicking—I spend a lot of time helping people with proofreading and related tasks in writing groups, and I tend to be reasonably good at spotting typos. So sometimes I’ll take the extra time to leave a note for a writer when I spot things during my enjoyment reading as well. Although I mostly try to turn my editing mindframe off, because it gets easy to feel like you’re working on a task every time you’re reading!)

  5. I haven’t read the books or watched the movies…and now I know I won’t feel badly about that! lol Great review and goes along with other reviews I’ve heard. Truthfully, it’s becoming fairly difficult to watch a good movie anymore. You have to trudge through so many bad ones.

    • Nick Kush says:

      That’s so true! That’s what happens now that studios have more funds to take on more projects but there isn’t enough new talent to compensate.

      Too many studios are focused on the box office and cutting together a good trailer that they forget to make a quality film!

  6. I had seen this movie.. not good, not bad….

  7. This is a good review. My fiancé and I went to see this movie last night. I enjoyed it but he didn’t. he expected it to be different. although I liked the movie there were some parts I wished they did different or didn’t do at all. I only liked 3 of the songs in the movie. I am a girl that cries over stupid sad parts in movies and I could say that I almost cried at one or 2 parts in the movie. when I saw the first one I saw it at my apartment, not in a movie theater so when I went to see this one in the movie theater it was kind of weird. but over all if you did like the first one and enjoyed the books I would recommend seeing this movie.

  8. heyjude6119 says:

    A good, objective review!
    Thanks for visiting my blog. 🙂

  9. I have to disagree as I loved this film. Saying that, I am a fan of the franchise (although the books are poorly written), and I do believe that it is a film for the fans. I’m not sure I get your misunderstanding of the dictionary however.

    • MovieBabble says:

      The point of the dictionary is that no one would ever just have that out or have it opened like they’re reading it. It’s not very practical but rather just a staged prop to try to make the shot in the film look more majestic. So, comparing that to the film as whole, the team behind this movie had a bunch of ideas that just don’t work or fit together. But obviously you might not agree to this analogy since you liked the film! I’d never knock you for liking a movie that I dislike, film’s subjective!

      • I have to say that I work in publishing, in particular the area of proofing. I consider my grasp of the English language to be quite comprehensive but I very much have a dictionary as my constant companion to check out how things play out in a book I’m working on (albeit an online version). Definitely subjective.

      • MovieBabble says:

        I would agree that using an online source would be much more practical, especially for a movie that’s released in 2017!

      • Absolutely!

  10. I am so glad I saw this review. I can’t even express how disappointed I was with the first movie. I’ve never actually finished it without falling asleep. It sucks, because the books were just phenomenal, but the movies are not.

  11. mykynla says:

    I would have to say that I really enjoyed the movie. I sat through both and I have read the books as well. People are very critical of this movie but I actually rather enjoyed it. I do think they should have gone deeper into Christian’s dark past a little more but the sex scenes were pretty great.

    • MovieBabble says:

      That’s interesting because I thought the music choices for the sex scenes were poorly constructed with weird music choices and fully clothed people. I can’t really say that I was “excited” by them at all. But in the end you’re entitled to your opinion! It’s nice to see the other side of the argument, it makes for better discussion!

      • mykynla says:

        Well the music choices I didnt really give to much though to that. And I understand the concept of the sex scenes because when you really look at it they were mostly in a rush so she was undressed from the bottom down with him only having to whip out his piece and get it on. I saw it from a different perspective because people are sooooooo hard on the movies nowadays I tried to look at it from different eyes. grant-it I did want them to dig deep like the book did but I understand that making movies you have a time restraint and trying to fit everything from the book into the movie this series would be going on for a very long time with all the twist and turns

      • MovieBabble says:

        See I haven’t read the books, so when there was a vague reference to something that happened in the books it was definitely way easier for you to decipher what was happening. For me, it just kind of came of as nonsense.

      • mykynla says:

        LOL I totally understand there are alot of people who didn’t like the movie because it didn’t stay closely to the books but they just can’t get to everything that is in the book.

      • MovieBabble says:

        True! It didn’t help that the movie had a first time screenwriter either, maybe they’ll change it for Fifty Shades Freed.

      • mykynla says:

        I really hope so. Yes you are right, a first time screenwriter never helps a film that had such a powerful book. They should have taken notes from Harry Potter and Twilight. when you have a powerful book you should have a powerful movie behind it. and not stray to far from the book because then it creates a problem

      • MovieBabble says:

        We’ll find out in a year! lol

      • mykynla says:

        I hope they are able to win you over. I would suggest that you consider reading the books. You won’t want to put them down

      • MovieBabble says:

        I’ll take your word for it!

  12. csheldonblog says:

    Hey,
    I’ve not done any of the Fifty shades thing, in fact I was late to the twilight party as well. But some of the imagery I have seen in photo still have looked really good! Shame the film isn’t worth seeing! As I almost almost went for it for the visuals but I guess they would only show the “best” still out of the hour plus film…

    • MovieBabble says:

      I’d have to agree that it’s pretty nice to look at. The scenery is nice, the people look pretty, but when there’s absolutely nothing to back that up then you have a problem lol

  13. Nick Kush says:

    This was actually my favorite movie. I have seen it 6 times already and I plan on going again tonight with my boyfriend for valentines day

  14. Rob says:

    You clearly have a talent for reviewing movies. I wouldn’t view either of the movies in this series if you led me at gunpoint. I HATE movies of this nature.

  15. I hope John Wick 2 destroys this movie at the box office.

    • MovieBabble says:

      Me too! Or Lego Batman!

    • Jasmine M says:

      I recently caught part of the first John Wick film, and I really enjoyed it! Both it and the sequel are definitely on my DVD/streaming watchlist.

      (In the meantime I’ll have to stay away from reviews and comments about them, though. Sometimes people will point out flaws that I feel will or would’ve soured me on a film, and I’m already exacting enough as it is, heh! I mainly read reviews for films I either disliked, don’t feel strongly about, am only mildly interested in checking out, or don’t intend to watch anyway. The main exception is if I’m actually going out to the theater. I’d HATE to waste money and a rare night out on a bad or mediocre film. I’d also feel guilty for subjecting someone else to that!)

  16. Haha, I figured as much. I read the series (well, skimmed through), and those three books are some of the worst books I’ve ever read, especially the last one. The only redeeming parts of the first movie were the soundtrack and Dakota Johnson. She was cute and made Ana somewhat believable/likable.

  17. Hated the first one. Thanks for confirming what I believed the second to be as well. Snooze-fest. Won’t waste my time/money.

  18. Exterior ID says:

    I really enjoyed your review. I read all the Firty Shades books (which I liked), but watching the first movie was a complete disappointment. In my opinion, they bypassed crucial information… info that would have made the plot more coherent.

  1. March 5, 2017

    […] *To read my review of Fifty Shades Darker, please click here. […]

  2. August 8, 2017

    […] a note, the director of the film, James Foley, went on to direct this year’s Fifty Shades Darker.  All I can is…what […]

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