In today’s america, Fifty Shades of Grey is exactly the type of literary rubbish that dominates the bestseller lists, perpetuating listless hypersexual content with absolute verbosity. It’s not the explicit nature of the story, but in how childishly it’s conveyed, that make it such an embarrassment and ultimately an indictment on our culture. However, it is a cash cow and Hollywood is all about the benjamins, so it was only a matter of time before the novel sales translated to ticket sales, in the form of a film adaptation. We were then subjected to 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which featured two hollow mannequins chiseled from marble, stoically delivering the most atrocious dialogue ever conceived. Yet somehow the film reached profitability, and even worse, was a massive box office success, in spite of the lashing it took critically. This of course spawned a sequel to be greenlit, and hopes of perhaps righting the ship, at least until we learned that the book series author, E.L. James, was commissioning her husband to pen the script to the sequel and that James Foley would be directing the film. The same James Foley whose last effort was the erotic thriller Perfect Stranger, which boasts a whopping 11% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.
With all these ingredients, it’s a perfect recipe for disaster. It’s not long after delving into Fifty Shades Darker that you realize just how inept this script is at creating any sort of sensual tantalization. This almost feels like a parody of the first film, which was already laughably bad. Picking up right where we left off, we see Ana (Dakota Johnson), living the life of an ordinary citizen, independent of the dominant Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). She has a new job at a publishing house, lives in an impossibly lavish apartment for an assistant’s salary, and has a reasonable social life that includes hanging with hipster photographer friends at their opening night gallery showings. She is, by all means, devoid of considerable heartbreak from her and Christians parting of ways. That is until Christian shows up to said gallery opening, posting a grand gesture in the form of purchasing all 6 portraits of Ana, which were taken by her photographer friend, and no one seems to care just how ostensibly creepy that seems on all sides.
With almost no hesitation, Ana agrees to dinner with her estranged master, and in an exchange that so perfectly sums up the captivating dialogue the audience is treated to, she utters the phrase “Ok i’ll go to dinner with you, because i’m hungry.” Ana and the famed Mr. Grey begin their tryst with the promise of no rules, no punishments and no secrets. What transpires from here seems absolutely moot, as the story is uninspiring and is absent of any, even transient emotional conflict. The film attempts to over inflate minor instances in an effort to raise some theatrical dramatics, but the insane contrivances that loom apparent from start to finish, make it impossible to take anything you see seriously. To try and drum up some tension, the film is reliant on a mysterious and shadowy past submissive of Christians, and a terribly underutilized Kim Basinger, who is reduced to the cougar foil in the love affair. It’s all just faux sexualized fodder, demonstrably overreaching the prowess of its production team, and it’s performers.
For all it’s conceptualized hypersexuality, Fifty Shades Darker is surprisingly flaccid and downright boring. The running joke between Ana and Christian stems from his fear of a “vanilla” relationship, but there seemed to have been no such fear of creating an insanely vanilla movie. The story is fruitless, and serves as a glamorous and meandering space filler between the soft core sex scenes, that oddly almost never see Dornan removing his pants. Seriously though, 2 hours and a bevy of ridiculously romanticized pornographic sequences, and he probably takes his pants off twice the whole movie. This is irrelevant, but it’s an amusing observation nonetheless. There is no reason to touch on the performances, because they are all terrible. Even the respected Marcia Gay Harden is reduced to a vapid mother figure with little to do, other than tell Ana how great she is for her sadistic son, because she makes him less of a narcissist.
The only reprieve in Fifty Shades Darker comes in the form of unintentional humor, and the exercise your facial muscles get from the constant eye rolling this film induces. Let’s face it, no one really thought this would be any good, even the women you will flock to the theaters in droves to see this crap opening weekend can’t possibly believe this taciturn nonsense is meritable in any way, but no one seems to care. Similar to the Transformers franchise, these movies are critic proof. The issue comes with finding any soluble gratification in the wreckage. All film is subjective, except this. This is objectively bad. Darker’s solution to it’s predecessors problems were to give the sequel an overblown budget that added nothing to the story and just created an excuse for production to travel to all sorts of picturesque landscapes that included boat rides and helicopter trips. But apparently there was no room in the budget for reasonable dialogue and instead we get the searing machinations of a bored housewife who watched too much Twilight. Super catchy soundtrack though.. So there’s that.
0.5/5 NOT COOL BRO