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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. As I mentioned before, because conflicts abruptly enter and exit the movie, they’re so comical that you objectively 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 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.
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 because it’s clear that the people involved didn’t take the time to make this movie watchable. It panders to the lowest denominator which is why Fifty Shades Darker gets an F.
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