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Film Review – Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

Well, it’s that time again.  The Fifty Shades franchise is back with its third installment, Fifty Shades Freed.  The previous two films made boatloads of cash, practically begging Universal Studios to finish off the trilogy that many gave up on before the first film ever hit production.

Regardless, the third film is here whether you like it or not, so let’s see what happens.  The following review will be spoiler free.

Fifty Shades Freed

Synopsis

Directed By: James Foley

Written By: Niall Leonard

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, and Eloise Mumford

Now married, Ana and Christian are excited to begin their lives together as a recognized couple — meaning that every one of Christian’s possessions is also Ana’s.

Shortly after their honeymoon, Ana returns to her job as the head fiction editor of a company in town.  While things seem perfect between the newlyweds, the reemergence of Jack Hyde (Johnson) along with some other developments put their relationship in peril.

Background

Despite still crushing it at the box office, Fifty Shades Darker made almost $200 million less than Fifty Shades of Grey, signalling that audience fatigue was mounting.  Now, just a year later, the third installment has hit theaters.

Obviously, the franchise has come across serious derision from critics and audiences since the first movie hit theaters back in 2015, causing everyone to rip into author E.L. James for adapting Twilight fan-fiction into a trilogy of novels.  In fact, hate has become so widespread that many critics have probably already penciled in an “F” grade or an equivalent score before they see the movie.

However, it’s important to continue to thoughtfully criticize or praise rather than stoop to incoherent shouting and hyperbole.  Film criticism is about the dialogue that can take place about the film, not who can think of the greatest insult.  After all, people who are just trying to earn a living worked on this film.  Although it’s undeniably fun, I plead that all critics and fans make cogent responses to Fifty Shades FreedProper takedowns lead to change in the industry (in combination with box office receipts).

fifty shades freed

image via IndieWire

Now, let me explain why Fifty Shades Freed is downright terrible (cogently, of course).

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan Want to Leave this Franchise as Soon as Possible

It became clear after the release of Fifty Shades of Grey that neither Dakota Johnson or Jamie Dornan wanted to continue further with the franchise, and that feeling could not be more obvious in Fifty Shades Freed.

There is negative chemistry between the two leads as they sleepwalk through each scene.  These two are clear professionals as they fulfill their contractual agreements, but there is no passion or love in their interactions.  Both actors have monologues where they appear dead in the eyes — waiting for the film to end so that they can go home and sift through better projects in which to take part.  Everything about their motions is cold and lifeless, failing to bring any personality to a film that sorely needs it.

Aside from their sexual encounters, these two are left to spout teenage-like dialogue about domination and frustration.  Johnson and Dornan have both done solid work in the past, and you can feel their disapproval as they walk off camera.  They’re better than this material, and they’d be the first people to say it.

fifty shades freed

image via CBS News

Includes “Sexy” Scenes that Aren’t Sexy

Then it comes time for Johnson and Dornan to perform in the way that many look forward to when they see this movie, and it might be the most disappointing piece of the entire film.

There’s clearly some personal taste that goes into evaluating these sex scenes.  But, in this critic’s humble opinion, they fail miserably.  Sex scenes need great chemistry from the two characters performing the act.  Otherwise, they comes off as hoaky and unappealing.  In film, sex is more than just the act, it’s the culmination of overflowing emotions and two characters joining each other on the same path (or a diverging path, depending on the film).  With such bland and weak characters, Fifty Shades Freed never meets this significance.  Rather, the two leads have sex just to have sex, making comparisons to softcore porn apt.

Regardless of your feelings towards those remarks, the sex itself is less than appealing on a visceral level.  With no chemistry and poor direction, Johnson and Dornan are left to passively engage each other.  Their movements are forced and awkward, making it clear that they have no clue how to give off the feeling of pleasure.  In combination with mistimed groans that never come close to simulating true feeling, the entire production feels staged.  After thirty seconds of zero electricity, the camera merely cuts away to silly melodrama outside the bedroom.

Also, you’ll never look at vanilla ice cream the same way.

fifty shades freed

image via Business Insider

Fifty Shades Freed Has No Plot

The promotional material for Fifty Shades Freed exclaims “don’t miss the climax.”  But, it’s very possible that you will miss the climax even if you see the film as it doesn’t appear to have one.

Like its predecessor, Fifty Shades Freed contains a laundry list of plot details that get solved in a matter of moments — there is no through-line to the plot.  The film tries to include the reappearance of the Jack Hyde character as the main problem for Ana and Christian to handle, but that plot thread is fixed so quickly that you’re left wondering, “wait, that’s it?”  It’s shocking that an hour and forty-five minute film contains so much fluff.

There are glimmers of what should be the plot to the film, but it decides instead to focus on the subplots of underdeveloped side characters — not to mention unnecessary vacations that the couple takes.  In an attempt to faithfully adapt its derivative and clumsily written source material, motivation and logic are cast aside to make some semblance of a plot appear.  You’re not fooling me, movie!

With such a flimsy structure, there’s nothing to get excited about in Fifty Shades Freed.

fifty shades freed

image via Parade

Final Thoughts

A folly of a film, Fifty Shades Freed brings one of the more hated trilogies to an end.  The entirety of the film is centered on the relationship between Ana and Christian, and neither of the actors playing those characters have any interest in continuing the charade.  Flimsy characters in combination with bad acting leaves the plot’s glaring issues even more pronounced — nothing of note happens in this film.

It’s easy to pound on Fifty Shades Freed by groupthink tendencies.  But, putting biases towards the subject matter aside, the film just doesn’t work as constructed.  The result is a trashy, plodding motion picture that never has heart or dramatic heft.

Grade: F

fifty shades freed

image via Den of Geek


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Nick Kush

A current college student, 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.

36 Responses

  1. jpabsy says:

    I am so keen to see this film!!

  2. i’m going to see it eventually, but jeez, what a missed chance to be a good franchise (content wise). i’m almost embarrassed to say i’ve seen the first two, but you learn a lot from watching them of what works and what doesn’t. it all comes down to the writing and acting. it’s hard to have a movie that’s missing the mark in both of these. i’ve watched them more than once, hoping i might have missed something, but it’s not the case. thanks for liking my review on showgirls, by the way, and hope all is well with you.

  3. The only interesting thing about this franchise is Chriatian’s body. Seriously, though… a friend of mine has just shared with me the first few chapters of her book about the REAL world of BDSM and the ever moving line between pleasure and abuse… it is truly magnificent and revelatory. No wonder so many are offended by this vanilla, money grabbing, misrepresentation of the very complex real lives of so many brave and beautiful people.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I wonder if they had to tone things down to keep the film at an R-rating. NC-17 is practically a death sentence for box office receipts.

  4. Funny how Filthy, er I mean Fifty, er I mean “Filthy” Shades has certain connections with Twilight since it was spawned as Twilight fan-fiction, a sign of crap inspiring crap. The two leads don’t bother to show much interest in a relationship, the relationship is messed up & shouldn’t exist, the background characters don’t add much & are either there for cheap moral support or quickly-resolved drama and good actors that have been cast in supporting roles because of some crime they must have committed. While the Twilight series somehow roped in Anna Kendrick, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Bryce Dallas Howard and Colossus himself, Daniel Cudmore (not the one from “Deadpool”), this abomination to mankind got Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale) and Tyler Hoechlin (Superman from the Supergirl TV show). However, James Foley (who directed Glengarry Glenross) and legendary composer Danny Elfman had to have committed some ultra- heinous crime in the past that could only be covered by working on this series (Foley for the sequels, Elfman for the whole thing). I saw the CinemaSins episodes for the first two films and it’s just mind-numbing drivel. May Black Panther shut this series down with just a simple stroke of a single claw.

    • Nick Kush says:

      It really show how much people in the industry will sell their souls when a studio throws a ton of money their way. Fifty Shades Freed had a $55 million budget and there’s absolutely no way that it should have ever costed that much. Universal realizes that no onw would have continued with the franchise if they were making pennies on the dollar.

  5. whovian223 says:

    One night, we decided to get drunk and watch the 1st movie. I then decided to live-“tweet” it (quotes because it was on Facebook, not Twitter) and I found that aspect of it very entertaining (as did a couple of my friends, though maybe the rest of them were annoyed).

    However, we quickly decided that there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to watch the 2nd and 3rd movies.

  6. Dan says:

    Is this the end of the franchise now? Please tell me there will be no more. 🙁

  7. I thought Jack would be more of a threat to them… 😭
    I was actually anticipating this movie. I was hoping it would be better than 50 shades darker because that one was just annoying. No life and I didn’t get the plot or the climax of it. The events just occurred and the movie was over 🤦
    I’m disappointed 😞

  8. Your point about insults is well taken, but some films are so cynical in their lack of respect for audiences that they deserve it. And who doesn’t love a good movie insult? My personal favorite was when Gene Siskel called the Sylvester Stallone/ Kurt Russell actioner Tango and Cash a “waste of good electricity.” From your review, I’m guessing that would apply to this film too.

  9. Jason says:

    Oh, this movie was so horrible. Thank god it’s finally over!

  10. rakioddbooks says:

    Pity, when I saw the “bad guy” in the trailer I thought maybe this movie would turn out kind of interesting. I even went as far as contemplating reading the books or watching the movies. But thanks to your review, I don’t have to bother doing either!

  11. Shane Coules says:

    Good job on seriously critiquing the film, even though it left you where you knew you’d end up… An F grade. I’m shocked that it didn’t warrant an A+ TBH – they’re working with such great material…

  12. Writergurlny says:

    I made it my business to neither read the books or see the films.

  13. C M Smile says:

    I read the books but they were not appealing enough for me to watch the movies. I “tried” to watch the first one and didn’t get through a fourth of it before I turned it off and did not watch the 2nd and will not watch the 3rd.

  14. Elle Nguyen says:

    I read the books within a week (which doesn’t say much, meaning they’re so simple they require no thinking) and I wonder how they plan on going about this last instalment. It really seems like they’re pushing the feminism side of it, where she has power and all this, after the backlash of the first two movies where she’s just too subordinate and unrealistic that we don’t care about her. Anyway, still gonna watch–but no high expectations here.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Yeah she really doesn’t gain much power in this one lol. It’s more of the same with actors and people behind the camera that just don’t want to be there

  15. claire says:

    I still haven’t read or seen any of these films, but visually from the trailer this one doesn’t look as good as the 2nd one.. From watching the trailer only it looks borring anyway

    • Nick Kush says:

      It’s gives off the feeling that no one wants to be there. Everyone just sleepwalks through the entire film without any personality

  16. Nick Kush says:

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  1. February 11, 2018
  2. February 11, 2018

    […] Well, it’s that time again.  The Fifty Shades franchise is back with its third installment, Fifty Shades Freed.  The previous two films made boatloads of cash, practically begging Universal… The post Film Review – Fifty Shades Freed (2018) appeared first on MovieBabble. https://moviebabblereviews.com/2018/02/11/film-review-fifty-shades-freed-2018/ […]

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