‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Review: Sequel Stalls Often, Never Delivers The Goods
Before getting too far into descriptive words such as ‘terrible’ or ‘horrendous,’ it is first important to note that Fifty Shades Darker is a film unlike any other. There aren’t many big budget, Hollywood films that explore the sex dungeons of BDSM culture in scenes set to sexy-fied pop music from today’s biggest stars. But maybe the reason you haven’t seen it before is because you never really needed to in the first place.
Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey and the second installment of the trilogy based on the book series by E.L. James, begins after the break-up of timid lover Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and her millionaire master Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Both seem unhappy away from each other and so they agree to give their relationship another go, but this time without the contracts and the other things that made their previous relationship so one-sided.
Their foray into the “vanilla” relationship can only last so long before Christian’s past comes back to haunt them. Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger), the ‘Ms. Robinson’ who first introduced Christian to the BDSM life-style, warns Anastasia that Christian will never survive in a relationship without a serious edge. Also, Leila (Bella Heathcote), one of Christian’s former submissives begins to appear randomly in Anastasia’s bedroom and in glass reflections.
While these conflicts are the most central to the plot of the movie – only because they are the last ones to be resolved – it is unclear that they are moving the story forwards until the last few minutes of the movie. There are countless other conflicts that arise through out the movie but all of them seem to be resolved within a couple of scenes.
For example, at one point Christian reveals that someone burned cigarettes out on his chest when he was a child. Now he doesn’t like people touching his chest, which is why he had first put in the ‘no touching’ clause in the agreement. Christian has Ana use lipstick to draw a box around his chest to signify the ‘no touching’ zone – it is unintentionally the funniest scene in the movie. While this may seem like a big plot point, the issue is solved several scenes later when the couple is in the shower. Ana washes off the lipstick and Christian is healed.
The most painful aspect of Fifty Shades Darker is its flatness. Johnson and Dornan don’t exchange lines of dialogue, rather they just throw them out, without feeling, into the air. They never seem to be listening to each other, instead just waiting for their line – most of which, are cliché. This makes the conversation between characters very hard to follow.
Now, for those of you who don’t care about the plot as much as you care about the fabled sex scenes, I have some bad news for you – the sex scenes are quick and uninteresting. Set to slowed down pop, the sex scenes are so well choreographed to whatever song is playing that it makes the whole thing laughable. It is hard to know if you are watching a music video, a movie, or a porno. Whatever it is though, it is not good.
The Blu-ray edition of Fifty Shades Darker includes segments on writing the film, an exploration of the new and old characters, a segment about Johnson and Dornan’s relationship in real life – they seem way more connected off screen than they do on – and a breakdown of one the film’s central scenes – or so they say, it really means very little for the rest of the movie.
Watch the trailer for the unrated Blu-ray edition below.
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