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Review: Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker
02.10.2017
4 10

PLOT: After a tumultuous beginning, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele decide to try again. Between the sex and dumb dialogue, they find that a few of Grey’s ex’s have a real issue with their blossoming, bondage-filled, love.

REVIEW: Occasionally, a sequel to a flawed film can bring positive changes to a franchise. So I can say this, in FIFTY SHADES DARKER, the chemistry between the film’s stars is much better this time around. While I enjoyed Dakota Johnson enough in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, her leading man was almost painful to watch. Whether it was the direction or the script, he was abysmal and not at all seductive - aside from the obvious physical features. This time however, both actors appear to be more comfortable in this modern day tale of bondage and love. It’s a better fit that occasionally conjures up a little bit of the sexy - but only occasionally. Aside from a better performance from Jamie Dornan, this is yet another dull love story with very little spark.

At this point I usually talk about the plot. Well here it is. Anastasia Steele (it is impossible to not chuckle typing these character names) has a new job and a new boss. She and Christian Grey have taken a break from each other, but the passion is too hard to resist. Soon, he convinces her to give him another chance, and promises to make their “contract” a little less spanky and violent. While things seem to be going well for the couple, Anastasia discovers that the former women in Christian’s life are all kinds of nuts. The provocative Kim Basinger shows up as the untrustworthy Elena Lincoln, a woman who was seemingly abusive to Mr. Grey. And then you have Leila (Bella Heathcote) who is a poor soul that was dumped by him only a few years ago. This dude gets around.

One thing that I found to be clever is the casting of Ms. Basinger. After all, she starred in one of the most famous movies about sex ever made. And you know something, 9 1/2 WEEKS is far better than anything you can find here. Another smart casting choice was the incredible Marcia Gay Harden as Christian’s mother. The best scene in the movie involves both of these two women, and it’s strangely satisfying. It’s a shame we didn’t have more of that energy and fun. The rest of this erotic story unfortunately is a boring mess that rarely lives up to it’s sensual promise. Aside from one scene involving a frightening sex toy in Grey’s dungeon, this is just a bit of a bore.

There is no way would I say that FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was a good film, but visually speaking it was a whole lot more interesting. Sam Taylor-Johnson sure prettied things up and it actually kind of helped. Frankly, I’m a fan of filmmaker James Foley (AT CLOSE RANGE, AFTER DARK, MY SWEET, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS), but the new film felt a bit by-the-numbers for the director. It may be that he was just trying to make the dreadful dialogue a little better by really working with his actors. The difference between Dornan here and in the last film is huge, so at least he was able to give us that. It also appears that both actors are more comfortable with each other, and the sex scenes are mostly natural - even if they fail to really be all that sexy.

Not surprisingly, there were a ton of women at the screening I went to, and there were laughs aplenty - mostly I’d guess not the intention. For me however, I had the good fortune of watching the film with a good friend who is in that lifestyle - the wife refused to go. Afterwards, she opened up about how much of it was legit when it came to the complicated relationship. At one point Grey admits he is a Sadist, and not a Dom. Funnily enough, my plus one pointed that out right before he said it. And yes, she enjoyed the film quite a bit. It makes sense that somebody familiar with the rules of this type of relationship would be more in the know than a regular audience member. So hey, if you are a Slave or a Dom, you may dig the hell out of this.

The script  by Niall Leonard is not good. Not at all. But is that really all that shocking considering the source material? The filmmakers are desperately trying to make this couple interesting. Aside from the somewhat explicit sex scenes, there is very little to be interested in. I still enjoy Dakota Johnson in the role, but some of the awful stuff she has to say is painful to watch. The film follows a simple formula. Dumb dialogue which leads to sex and a pop song on repeat. When even the sex fails to really excite, you have very little soul in this empty love story. This may have been the story Lady Gaga was talking about when she recorded “Bad Romance.”

FIFTY SHADES DARKER is a mostly bad film. It just is. The dialogue is atrocious, but somehow I have to give credit to the on-screen talent. Dornan is much better this time around and Johnson is a joy once again. And you can’t beat watching Basinger and Harden go full on bitch slap with each other. I wish that there had been more of them together. If you enjoyed FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, you may like this. Unfortunately for anybody else, this is just a lame sex flick that is pure style and no substance - still probably better than the awful books. Now if you really want to see a sexy R-rated romance, maybe you should seek out 9 1/2 WEEKS instead.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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12:48PM on 02/10/2017
Why it is that people enjoy this steaming pile of a franchise enough to give it two movies (and probably more) is kind of beyond me. But I suppose I can't be too surprised with an audience that gives Twilight fanfic this much of a following.
Why it is that people enjoy this steaming pile of a franchise enough to give it two movies (and probably more) is kind of beyond me. But I suppose I can't be too surprised with an audience that gives Twilight fanfic this much of a following.
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3:11PM on 02/12/2017
I say the same thing about Transformers, but look at all the idiots that go see that dog shit.
I say the same thing about Transformers, but look at all the idiots that go see that dog shit.
12:09PM on 02/10/2017
Dakota Johnson is a very fine actress who's usually stuck with supporting roles but who was really good as the lead in the quickly cancelled sitcom Ben and Kate. If Kristen Stewart could use Twilight as a launching board to the career she wanted, maybe Johnson can do the same with Fifty Shades.
Dakota Johnson is a very fine actress who's usually stuck with supporting roles but who was really good as the lead in the quickly cancelled sitcom Ben and Kate. If Kristen Stewart could use Twilight as a launching board to the career she wanted, maybe Johnson can do the same with Fifty Shades.
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12:04PM on 02/10/2017

Hey JimmyO

Soooo. Can you send me contact info for the "friend" you went to the screening with??? Pretty please?
Soooo. Can you send me contact info for the "friend" you went to the screening with??? Pretty please?
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11:15PM on 02/10/2017
She's pretty loyal to her Dom... It's not me lol:)
She's pretty loyal to her Dom... It's not me lol:)
11:27AM on 02/10/2017

Shocking...........

I'm all for the fans of the books wanting a great adaptation but these are so effing bad. Like twilight bad..........and not the first twilight that gave you hope. Like the last two bad.........
I'm all for the fans of the books wanting a great adaptation but these are so effing bad. Like twilight bad..........and not the first twilight that gave you hope. Like the last two bad.........
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