‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Review

Fifty Shades Darker is a sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the novel of the same name, written by E. L. James.  Since the events of Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia Steele she has tried to move on and forget her sexual escapades with Christian Grey.  She has a new job, a new life, and is ready to be her own woman again.  However, desire for Christian still lingers, and when he comes back into her life proposing a new sexual arrangement she cannot say no. Rekindling their sexual affair, Anastasia learns more about Christian and his dark past.

Does the synopsis above seem remotely interesting? I hope so – because I just spent an hour trying to figure out exactly how to write an interesting synopsis to one of the most boring and uninteresting films of all time.  Four sentences explaining the plot of a film should not take an hour to conjure up.  However, when the film has no plot, that makes it difficult.

Fifty Shades Darker suffers from three things: poor screenplay, poor acting, and poor dialogue.  Notice that two out of the three problems stem from the writing.  Maybe that is because the writer of this movie (if you want to call it that) has zero film writing credits to his name.  How did he get this job you might be asking? Maybe it’s because the writer is Niall Leonard, the husband to E. L. James.  The same E. L. James who wrote the Fifty Shades novels.  And the same E. L. James that wrote such beautiful literary passages like: “I still prefer my title to yours, in so many different ways. It is lucky that I am master of my own destiny and no one castigates me,” and “I line up the white ball and with a swift clean stroke, hit the center ball of the triangle square on with such force that a striped ball spins and plunges into the top right pocket. I’ve scattered the rest of the balls,” and who could forget, “His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”  Those are actual word for word quotes from the books.  I changed nothing about their structure.  When you have a movie based on that kind of writing, and an actual screenplay writer is nowhere near the project, then expect disaster.

Don’t get me wrong – I did not hate every millisecond of the movie.  The masquerade ball scene was shot beautifully.  And I did find myself laughing out loud on several occasions.  I don’t think I was supposed to laugh in those scenes due to serious tone the film was trying to convey.  But I found watching the film fail hilarious.

I’ve got a quote for the studio to put on the DVD box, “Fifty Shades Darker, the best comedy of 2017.”

Honestly though, this film is no laughing matter.  The lack of plot to a story that has a runtime of 3 hours is just absurd.  Wait, that’s not right.  The runtime isn’t even 2 hours long!  So, add pacing issues to the list of things I hated about this “movie.”

What I believe is the root of the film’s pacing and overall plot issues is that there are “major” events that take place, but have no effect on the outcome of the film.  For example, there is a crazy lady from Christian’s past that randomly shows up for about 5 minutes throughout the movie and she is supposed to show us, the audience, that Christian likes to control women.  However, we already know this from all the BDSM stuff in his house and because Anastasia brings it up every 20 minutes.  This mysterious crazy woman is also able to get into a Billionaire’s locked, and guarded, parking garage to vandalize Anastasia’s vehicle as well as her locked apartment building to spy on her.  How does she do this? Can she walk through walls? Is she a master lock picker and camera hacker? Maybe, it is never established.

Also, we are left to assume that the actual vandalizer is the crazy lady from Christian’s past and not the other crazy old lady played by Kim Basinger.  Both women hate Anastasia, both women have motive, but we never definitively find out who did it.  Also, Anastasia is never seen driving this car.  We only know it’s hers because she says so.  Up to this point she is only shown taking the bus everywhere she goes.  The vandalized car is the first and only time we see it!

Another example is towards the end (this is not a spoiler, its shown in the trailer) where Christian Grey is involved in a helicopter crash.  Christian’s family, friends, and play thing are gathered around the TV watching a news report on how the Billionaire has gone missing during the events of the crash.  After several tears are shed by Christian’s loved ones we hear the volume on the TV miraculously get louder and state, “Christian Grey has been found.”  And just to punctuate that sentence he walks in the door to say to everyone, “What the hell are you doing here?”  This made me laugh.  Not just the poor dialogue announcing the playboy’s return, but also that he walks in after a plane crash that happened in a completely different state 2 seconds after news people report him being found.  Does this brush with death have a pivotal change in the plot? Does it change Anastasia or Christian in way that establishes character growth? Is it in anyway important? NO. It is not.

Did I also mention the acting is bad? Guys, the acting is really, really bad. It is porn star bad.  The sad thing is that I’m sure most of the “actors” in Fifty Shades Darker were paid better than most porn stars.  Dakota Johnson (Anastasia) uses the exact same tome in every sentence she speaks.  Jamie Dornan (Christian) is no better.  In fact, I think he was somehow worse – if that was even possible!  They also manage to make sex not at all sexy.  They are very bland, and one note in every scene.  They also have zero chemistry.  Picking out ripe fruit at the grocery store is more exciting and stimulating than watching these two on screen.

If you haven’t gathered by now – this movie sucks.  It is terrible.  I hope it financially bombs so we never have to see a third movie in the theater.  Will they make a third?  More than likely, however, my fingers are crossed for a straight to DVD release because that is what this franchise deserves.  Fifty Shades Darker gets a very solid 0/5!

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