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« Aussie Super-Team Tackling Gay Conversion Therapy | Main | »
Thursday
Jun082017

Fifty Shades Blander 

By Spencer Coile 

It is a sunny, carefree weekday afternoon. A spur of the moment decision leads me to rent the 2017 "blockbuster," Fifty Shades Darker, which prides itself on being the sequel to the risque and monotonous Fifty Shades of Grey. It's new to DVD, I had read half of the second book several summers ago, the first film was altogether harmless, what did I have to lose? 

Two hours, it would appear.

Picking up right where the first film left off (although that really is of no importance in the world of Grey and co.), Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) gets back together with good ol' billionaire, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). They have sex, have meaningless conversations as if their lives depended on them, and constantly bicker over the fact that Christian wants to spoil Ana with a new phone, laptop, car, $24,000 for no apparent reason. And that is only the first half hour!

I do not consider myself prudish, nor did I ever consider these stories (written by E.L. James as Twilight fanfiction) to be anything other than a contemporary take on a unique type of romance. That said, the way in which Christian and Anastasia's relationship is depicted in this film is as charming as watching two noodles in a pool softly bump into each other as they float across water. In a film, an entire universe, centered around sex and the strange desires that others may have, director James Foley is not interested in exploring the intricacies to these sexual fantasies. Instead, he focuses on the sex scenes themselves, which, even though it would appear they are trying to shock viewers end up as limp and lifeless as the dialogue without that fueling desire. It could be fascinating to develop these characters' sex lives, but the most fulfilling quality to the scenes are the catchy R&B songs that play in the background.

Dakota Johnson is by no means a bad actress. Her performance in 2016's A Bigger Splash is a clear indication of her talents. Here, though, she is saddled with Anastasia, the limp salad of literary characters. Given no real charm or subtlety to her character, it is almost baffling to watch every single man in this film fawn over her in the ways that they do. Everyone, and I mean everyone loves her. None more so than Christian. And as we watch Ana reject all of Christian's gifts to her (after all, she has her dream job and all the money in the world), her biggest concern is telling her boyfriend that he shouldn't buy things for her. As you can imagine, this quickly gets frustrating. And don't even get me started on Dornan, who does not seem to be trying all that hard to make Christian anything other than some type of sex god. And even that is a misfire. But hey, at least they are both attractive! 

There is a scene halfway through the film, where Anastasia and Christian enter a crowded elevator. Somehow, Christian ends up with his hand in Ana's skirt, and despite her weird moaning and the aggressive hand movements, miraculously, no one notices. Not even when he loudly whispers, "Don't come" in her ear. Strangely, this scene is representative of the film as a whole. It attempts to be steamy and erotic; perfect for those Valentine's Day crowds that swarmed to the theaters. Instead, it ends up feeling clumsy and without purpose. It's odd but fitfully amusing -- Marcia Gay Harden as Christian's mother slaps Kim Basinger across the face! It is my sincerest hope that the film finds itself in the camp classic territory in the distant future. 

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Reader Comments (13)

I'm here for slapping!! the greatest is Madonna's left hook from Julianne Moore in Body of Evidence.

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I just saw this last night. The first one is not a great movie but it's at least enjoyable and has some bites in it with sparkles of humor. This one is just toothless; meandering and boring. It has no tension whatsoever. The whole helicopter incident for example; what purpose does it serve? LOL.

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Another review that seems to think (for some mysterious reason) that it should be about the reviewer. A few words of advice: focus on the film! Read Chris's review of Wonder Woman for reference: beginning to end, all about the movie. Unless you have a truly strong voice, one that manages to affect the review with literary inklings, these navel gazing digressions just make it look like TFE needs to hire a tighter editor at large (which the blog cannot afford to, sadly).

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

And yet another "critic" who's fifty shades snobbish. And yet another review that's fifty shades boring, meaningless and regurgitated

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterYawn!

This was such a disappointment.

I know how ridiculous that sounds, but I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by the first film, which Sam Taylor-Johnson, Kelly Marcel, and Dakota Johnson (in a sly, genuinely funny performance) conspired to turn into a coming-of-sexual-age story in which a young woman took control over her body and her sexual desires in the face of men who would have be something other than what she is. It wasn't terribly good, but it was better than I expected.

But the loss of the female voice BADLY hurt this sequel, although it doesn't help that the book is a significant step down from the first. It is listless and uninvolving, and WAY too long. And then it puts Kim Basinger - in a part that should be perfect for her - in wildly unflattering clothes and makeup and neuters her part (seriously, who on this film did she piss off?!?). And God bless Dakota Johnson, doing yeoman's work in trying to wrestle ANYTHING interesting out of this weak sauce, but even she can't save this. It's sad.

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

I read the sypnosis for the film and man, it is bad. The ending is just ridiculous. If I had seen that in the theaters. I would've screamed "OH FUCK OFF!" There would no way I would be caught dead watching that in the theater unless I'm being offered some form of sex from a woman. Yet, I also heard that Jamie Dornan barely shows anything. What's the fucking point of a movie involving sex if the guy doesn't show much yet it's the woman that is often nude? FACKING BULLSHIT!!!!!

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

IT IS A FICTIONAL LOVE STORY that millions of viewers understand it is FICTIONAL are captivated by the "Fifty". We don't want to c the SOS we c n our lives everyday, we want helicopter crashes where no one is hurt, new cars & $24,000 given to (Ana) in less than half an hour!!! So, quit fretting, this Trilogy was made for the millions of US, NOT YOU!! I would recommend MSNBC News for YOU, as they r much like you, JUST PLAIN STUPID!!!

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFrancis Mayse

$500,000,000, says your woung!!!!!

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSue Bell

I wish this movie was at the very least campy. Something tawdry, tasty and fun like Sharon Stone or Rebecca De Mornay 90s movie. But no such luck. Dull and sexless.

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

We the fans loved the movie's and that's the only thing that matthers Darker was all yhat and a bag of chips its a fantasy not real this is not Shakespeare having sake this is a trilogy fantasy we want to see sex and he's a billionaire that has sex money and theme music when he's having sex hahaha and guess what it's paying off because look at all the money the movies are making and even the DVD so leave us alone we love the movies and that's all that counts

The best part was Dakota channeling her mom Melanie a la Working Girl speaking to her assistant after her promotion...I don't expect you to get me coffee...may have been the only highlight for me.

June 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

Jamie gets props for being Greer Garson's great nephew.

June 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

One of the worst films I've ever seen. Turned it off after 10 minutes. Christian is creepy, a stalker and enjoys humiliating women. At lease Dakota Johnson tried.
Money doesn't buy class, I hope the final installment tanks because society deserves better and EL James doesn't deserve anymore money.

June 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLillian

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