Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
Directed by James Foley
Written by Niall Leonard, based on the novel by E.L. James
The sequel heard around the world is finally coming to theaters, Fifty Shades Darker, seemingly from the title anticipates the story going deeper (no pun intended) than the last and pushing back the layers around the characters that are Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and the formidable Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The director of the first one bailed Sam Taylor-Johnson and has now been replaced by director James Foley. Whereas the first one served to push the envelope a bit and introduce audiences to the characters and the world of S&M, the second one felt like a clichéd version of what audiences would expect.
Corny one liners and a banal storyline, I felt like I was watching a cheesy Hallmark movie with some sex scenes sprinkled into it. So much of it felt predictable and any suspense that was built up was instantly solved in a few minutes.
The sequel is about Anastasia and Christian coming back together because he simply cannot live without her. Except this time around she renegotiates her terms with him and wants to have just a real, normal relationship. The problem is can Christian handle, as she says a vanilla relationship? Meaning one without the constant badgering to play dom and sub in the bedroom and one where boyfriends don’t dictate your relationship like a legal arrangement. Christian is used to being in control, it’s what excites him, it’s what gets him off in every area of his life, but this time around he agrees to try this type of relationship out with her because she is worth it in every sense of the word.
Anastasia is trying to lead a normal life, she finally got the job of her dreams, a position at a publishing house and wants so eagerly to impress her boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson). He is as equally enticing and sexy as Christian, but in a different way. He’s smart, he likes books as much as Anastasia and appears to be much more laid back. Immediately Christian cannot handle the fact that she has a boss and starts to try to manage her life, even trying to stop her from going on a work trip to New York City.
What envelops from here is a story so ridiculous that I wasn’t sure whether to roll my eyes or laugh. In the sequel, we find out more about Christian’s tortured past and meet the elusive Elena, who first showed him the ropes of the S&M world when he was young. I loved that Kim Basinger played the character, in a way as an homage to her original bad ass character from 9 ½ Weeks, who unleashed her sexuality in the days before every movie had gratuitous sex scenes in it. What wasn’t great was the fact that she was underused in the film. I would have loved to have seen her do something interesting or mind grabbing with Christian, instead she remains as a foreground character, fourth to all the other nonsensical characters in the film.
I found the sex scenes in Darker, to push the envelope a bit more, which was what I expected. Ben Wa balls and an adjustable leg spreader bar and cuffs (curious minds should look both those up), take the scenes up a notch. As she tells Christian at one point, “I was being romantic and then you go and distract me with your kinky f—kery.” What’s different this time around is that Anastasia is much more willing to explore her kinky side in the bedroom. Whereas before she may have turned away or felt scared, this time she is curious and wants to play.
The movie is filled with leg grinding, lace panties, and sexy heels, and Dornan’s beautiful body. Director Foley gave audiences just what they wanted in that arena. As far as the storyline goes, it was simply lacking and unfocused. Many of the lines felt sterile and banal, but I guess this movie really isn’t going for Oscar worthy screenwriting. Although it could be nominated for a Razzie award. If you are a fan of the first one, then my guess is that curiosity will lead you to the theaters. The film could be fun to see with friends, have a good laugh, and see Dornan’s abs (it’s worth it just for that alone), but that’s about it. If none of that peaks your interest, then I would suggest saving your hard-earned dollars and waiting to see this one until it comes out on video.
(Insert gratuitous pic of Dornan... DONE)