50 Shades Darker

Domestic Abuse Gets A Sequel

Posted in Movie Reviews on February 16, 2017
Prod 51

James Foley

Running Time
118 min

While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.

It’s no surprise that movies like these keep on getting made. It’s not for critical appraisal, going through the circuit of accolades, or even trying to make an entertaining movie. The truth is it’s a business, a real successful one. Who would’ve known that erotic Twilight fan fiction written on a BlackBerry would’ve amounted to a multi-million-dollar franchise comprised of books and movie deals? All that’s left now are the novelty sex toys. If 50 Shades Darker improves anything upon its predecessor, it’s that it wastes no time with insignificant details like its plot and characters, no 50 Shades Darker can’t waste its time on those convoluted intricacies, and straight to what it’s known for: soft-core sex. In fact, the message it conveys is that any problem can be solved in the bedroom, especially when you got a six pack and a lair filled with kinky sex toys.

It’s hard to review 50 Shades Darker using the conventional triad model: story, characters and cinematography when it’s got very little of any, but I’ll try my best. 50 Shades Darker picks up where 50 Shades Grey left off, as our protagonist who walked out on the sadistic Mr. Grey finds herself right back in his bedroom within the first 5 minutes of the film. Totally understandable as she spends the next 2 hours glorifying how great the sex is and treating herself in the luxurious lifestyle of the 1%. Interspersed within these erotic montages are ‘plot-lines’ meant to heighten the tension, a psychopathic ex-lover, a manipulative dominatrix, and a helicopter crash, leaving us holding our chairs to see what happens next. But nothing can harm our dear Christian, who’s not only a chick magnet, but an expert in crash landing helicopters without a scratch telling the audience to “calm down, it’s no big deal”. However, there’s more to Christian than he lets on, because deep within, there’s a boy who likes to draw on his “off-limit” nipples with lipstick traumatized by a past so shocking, even the cameras won’t tell us what happened. The greatest irony in the film is that for having a title foreboding darkness, it seems quite intent on showing us a happier and brighter sequel than its grey predecessor.

However, anyone going into see 50 Shades Darker knows that the story is not what it’s about. It’s all about the aesthetic actors. Special commendations go to Dornan’s italicized abs and Johnson’s firm figure who pull through the long hours of exposure, because the thin dialogue can only give them some slack for only so long. A lot of thumping rather than actual talking, the chemistry between our protagonists seems to fade as the film forces them closer together. Even the blind eye can see that Dornan and Johnson have nothing in common as they commit themselves through a series of skin on skin scenes that shout ‘bootcamp workout’ than actual ‘intimacy’.

“At least the film looked pretty” I heard moviegoers saying as we walked out the door- I couldn’t agree less. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love listening to popstars Taylor Swift and ZAYN pimp out in the soundtrack, there’s a reason I got a Spotify subscription and not pre-order this film. And while the production set up of the masquerade balls and expensive cars and houses looked expensive, the film was in a hurry to skip to the next scene in what was ultimately a marathon of a movie. Ultimately the aesthetics of this film could not sugarcoat the ultimately bitter taste left by the film story and characters.

There is no doubt that 50 Shades Darker will go on to be very profitable as it attracts its perky teen fan base into the big theaters for cheekier hot shots, but its deplorable normalization of soft-core porn into mainstream film is one the general public should pass on. You start to realize there’s something fundamentally wrong with the film when you start to think that watching American politics on the news is a better spent Valentine’s Day than having you and your date see this movie.

In Summary

The Good
  • Clingy soundtrack
  • Abs and Aesthetics
The Bad
  • Erotic montage centred storyline
  • Tediously Long
  • All Thump-No Talk Characters