Film Review: Fifty Shades Darker
E.L James’ cultural phenomenon is back. This time, we have the sequel. 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey created global shock across cinemas as audiences were treated to, and appalled by, the story of dominant billionaire Christian Grey and his submissive love, Anastasia Steele. The original was met with harsh reviews, with critics and book-lovers alike eager to see how it’s successor would match up. And to be honest, it’s matched up pretty good.
This time around we meet Ana and Christian as two single people, with Grey vying for her affections. The title suggests a much darker undertone for the film’s Director James Foley to take, mostly associated with the supporting cast and their effects on the couple in question. The couple themselves are more comfortable, playful in their interactions together, with Ana still offering all of the awkward albeit cute humour. This adds to a more enjoyable experience, as the biggest fault in the last film was the imbalance between the couple. This time around however, they seem to be more on equal playing fields.
This film is much better than the first one in many ways. Firstly, its hotter. Way hotter. The film exploits more of what the book is known for, the sex scenes, of which has undeniably made the book such an infamous piece of writing. We explore a new character dimension of Ana. Long gone are her innocent virginal days, with Fifty Shades Darker making way for a new and inspired side of her, ahem, sexual appetite. This discovery of a new side of her is exciting, and once again keeps to the books. The chemistry between the two leads seems to have increased, with the sequel showing a more humane side to the BDSM-loving Mr Grey, the ‘L’ word is even thrown around. The cheesy dialogue is still there but with character additions like the fabulous Kim Basinger, it seems to flow a lot smoother. Instead of taking itself too seriously as a drama, like the first was marketed, the director has cleverly incorporated humour and triller elements, making the altogether ridiculous plot and character types a lot more suitable to the actual film.
Although the increased amount of sex does excite and fluster the predominantly middle aged female audience, it also makes way for the most obvious fault in this film; the extremely conventional formula that is the plot. These movies are similar to that of classic James Bond films, they’re formulaic to say the least. In a typical Bond film, our hero comes across a villain, defeats him and usually meets a pretty girl, with action scenes occurring every 30 minutes or so. With 50 Shades, the sequence occurs like this: Anna complains about Christian, he promises to change, they have sex. This somewhat monotonous chain of events is the foundations of this film, something that becomes both dull and exciting, as the audience wades through 10 minutes of arguments until we can see leading man Jamie Dornan naked again.
Unlike the genius that are the Bond films, the Fifty Shades series does not share the same suave way of dealing with things, mostly due to the cringe-worthy dialogue and inability to really develop a relationship with the main character. However, this is the biggest let down within the sequel as even people who have read the book and ultimately know what’s happening next, a little allurement or excitement leading up to the progression events would be nice.
Also the way the character of Leila is handled, an ex-submissive of Christian’s who is battling with the demons of her mental health, is appalling. She is quite simply dismissed and “thrown in the mental hospital”, making sure that sex scenes in the film are definitely not the most controversial element. From a cynical perspective, the film is ridiculous rubbish, ultimately feeding into the fairytale that is a rich man sweeping normal woman off her feet. Also, poor Rita Ora. Who ever wrote her dialogue needs to be spoken to in a stern manner. During a particular scene, Ana is upset over Christian, with Rita’s character Mia offering her a sweater to make things better. C'mon Rita, you’re better than this.
Although the story kept firmly to the books, pivotal scenes like the helicopter scene were brushed over, allowing the focus to be on the rugged man hero that is Mr Grey. He crashes the helicopter, returns home without a scratch, and then has sex with Ana. See the pattern?
People who love the Fifty Shades of Grey films will be satisfied. It is a true guilty pleasure film full of beautiful Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson fulfilling many women’s dreams of being treated like a princess. However, people who do not buy into this sadomasochistic, gender stereotyping tale of a rather creepy dude obsessed with a girl will once again, find something to complain about. All that said, it is better than the first one. Just still not great.
2/5 stars – same old cringe, just slightly better
~ special shoutout goes to my Mamma Hazel, who’s birthday is on Saturday and gives the film a solid 5/5 ~