I could make this the shortest review ever. Fifty Shades Darker is a cinematic disaster, with abysmal writing and no substance. And whilst this will be a short review, I want to explain why this is looking to be a certainty for my worst film of 2017. The most interesting thing though, is that I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entirety of the film’s runtime. But unfortunately for the filmmakers, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Going into this film, I had seen its predecessor Fifty Shades of Grey a couple of times, and both times I was baffled as to how this series is such a phenomenon. I know I am about as far away from the target audience as possible, but I should still be able to see what others enjoy in a franchise that I don’t associate myself with. But when it comes to the Fifty Shades franchise, I just can’t see it. It’s just Twilight fan fiction (seriously that’s how the books started) and that is not a good foundation for writing a story. And whilst I applaud author E L James for achieving success through her passion of writing, the idea of what this franchise is about doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.
What I also found was that the first film was incredibly dull and boring, despite its promise to fans to translate the eroticism on paper to the silver screen. So why did I enjoy watching Fifty Shades Darker in a way even though it seems to be more of the same from the first film? Well for a couple of reasons. For one, I think that me and my two friends were the only male members of the audience which was pretty awkward. The rest of the audience were likely to be fans of the books and the first film, and there was me and my two friends just bursting out laughing throughout the film. I’m sorry and I try my hardest not to annoy others in a cinema, but I couldn’t help it. That leads me into the second and most shocking point about this film. It makes the first one look good.
After the events of the first film, where Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) leaves Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) after realising she doesn’t like the whipping and all his other sexual desires in the red room, Christian tracks her down and tells her that he wants her back. And… well she just sort of says yeah ok. And that’s it. The rest of the film is just them arguing, making up by having sex, having another fall out, rinse and repeat for two hours. There are also some hilariously stupid subplots that I will discuss momentarily, but that in essence is the entire plot of the film. Thrilling.
The first point I have to make is that I feel so sorry for Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. They are both extremely talented actors that are 1000 times better than this film. I mean fair enough they should have read the scripts and refused to speak that atrocious dialogue but I think it was down to the production where the true problem lies. Apparently the author of the books E L James had a lot of control over how this film was produced, meaning that she was basically adapting her own fantasy into a film. And fair enough she wants to have her say in how her books should be handled, but I think it went too far here. You know how in the Star Wars prequels everyone criticised Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman for the terrible attempt at portraying a compelling romance. Well when you really look at those films, it not the actors at the core of the problem. It’s the dialogue. Lines such as Anakin’s “I don’t like sand” are just pure comedic gold, and we lose all emotional attachment to the couple. Well imagine that in Fifty Shades Darker, every line is that bad. It makes the romance in the first film look believable.
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at an unintentionally bad film. This film takes itself so seriously. But I would say I at least chuckled every couple of minutes in this film because of the embarrassingly poor script. It comes in two major problems. As already mentioned, the dialogue is fantastically awful. If this is how couples speak to each other than I would stay single for the rest of my life happily. Not one line did I believe that these two felt love for each other. The actors do try their best with what they are given, which is the only positive to this film that I can struggle to suggest. There are also some amazing graphic phrases that the characters say to each other in order to heighten the sexual tension of the scene, but they just provided me with more laughs.
The second problem with the script and to me what destroys this film is the story and how it is written. As I said before, the core storyline has little to no substance. Literally, there is no character development. Anastasia is such a poorly layered character. In fact there are no layers. She constantly is changing her mind about what she wants from her relationship with Christian, and seems to just accept his apologies by letting him experiment on her, despite her running away from him the last time that happened. And as for Christian, the film attempts to allow us to sympathise with him by giving us a sample of background knowledge of his tortured and dark past, but I couldn’t care less because of the butchered dialogue.
So I’m going to list a few subplots in the film and give a brief overview of them (Minor spoilers). As I just said, we learn more about Christian, bringing in the Mrs Robinson type character he abused him as a child (which allows for one of the worst lines in a film I have ever heard to be said). Ok that could be interesting, but we don’t spend enough time exploring Christian as a character. He just uses lipstick to draw on himself his ‘boundaries’ that Ana can’t touch because it reminds him of his past, which was one of the film’s funniest scenes.
There’s also a stalker plotline with the girl from the trailer that looked to give the film a thriller element to it. We assume she is a former submissive of Christians. Again, a promising look into the concept of the dominant and submissive which is at the core of this franchise, But we get about five minutes of this tops. There is one slightly effective moment involving Christian and this woman, but the rest is melodramatic rubbish.
We also have Ana’s creepy new boss at the publishing company she works for. He likes her, he doesn’t like Christian and Ana doesn’t like her boss. That’s about it. Literally it’s so mundane and there is not tension that we sense from the character.
But the most subplot and what solidified this as one of the worst stories I have ever seen in a film comes with a scene with a helicopter crash. I won’t say anything else, but the resolution is absolutely mind-blowing in how pathetic the writing is. You’ll know what I mean.
So how’s the film’s production? Average. The budget of the film is a moderate $55 million and there are certainly a couple of scenes with impressive production values. In fact there’s only one which is the masked ball scene that is all over the trailers. Wow that’s two positives in this film. The rest is just fine I guess nothing really offensive. There are lots of songs recorded for the film which is ok but the film was so dreadful that no music or soundtrack could save it. And as for the supporting cast it’s a lot like what happens with our two leads. Actresses such as Kim Basinger and Rita Ora just have nothing good to work with, and this obviously affects their performances.
But what about the sex scenes? How are they? Well, they’re awful, but are the best thing about this film at the same time. It is certainly more graphic than the first film. There are about 5 or 6 sex sequences and every single one of them is total awkwardness. There’s no passion there’s no sense of lust. It’s just Christian showing off his toys to Ana with some really cringe worthy background music. I couldn’t stop laughing at these though and in a way they were thoroughly entertaining. And I’m not laughing because I’m immature and there’s sex in a film. Sex can be done seriously and effectively, where you really understand the desire that both characters feel for each other. But here it’s unlike anything I have ever seen before. You just have to watch it to believe how unbelievably bad it is.
So that’s Fifty Shades Darker. An atrocity of cinema that is an amalgamation of some of the worst dialogue and one of the worst stories that I have ever experienced when watching a film. This should be shown in film schools to show how you shouldn’t make a film. So why after all this would I say watch it at some point. Because you’ll have a great time laughing at it. I certainly did. Just don’t go in expecting a deep romantic story. Go in expecting one of the best comedies of the year. All that being said, objectively looking at this film criticising it as to how well it is made and how far it is able to achieve its goals and ambitions, this is a total failure.
I give Fifty Shades Darker 1 out of 10!
OH YEAH AND THERE’S A TEASER FOR THE NEXT ONE HALFWAY THROUGH THE CREDITS. WHY DID I STAY TO WATCH? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!
Thanks for reading