THE STORY – When a wounded Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) tries to entice a cautious Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle them, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.
THE CAST – Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Kim Basinger & Marcia Gay Harden
THE TEAM – James Foley (Director) & Niall Leonard (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 118 Minutes
By Ben Scanga
When I saw the first “Fifty Shades Of Grey” film, I have to admit to the fact that I didn’t hate it. Sure, Jamie Dornan portrayed the character with absolutely no life and some of the line delivery was laughably bad, to say the least, but I mostly enjoyed it. In “Fifty Shades Darker,” not only do we have a new director with an exciting voice in terms of his ideas for the film, but a more in-depth exploration on Christian Grey as a character
“Fifty Shades Darker” takes place almost immediately after it’s predecessor, where Christian and Anastasia have broken off their relationship because of how brutal the whole dominant/submissive thing was getting for her. Christian though, cannot live without Ana and decides to quit the BDSM style of their relationship and attempts to try their relationship all over again. Suddenly, dark secrets from Christian’s past begin to surface and Anastasia begins to wonder if he could ever change. Can they ever have a normal relationship?
At the heart and soul of “Fifty Shades Darker,” is a haunting character study of Christian Grey, a man who can’t seem to get over his sexual fetish that reflexes on his tortured childhood and I dug that to be perfectly honest. When it is just these two characters attempting to figure out how to love each other with all the obstacles in the way, it is kind of a great little movie (at least in terms of what it was trying to be). John Schwartzman’s cinematography is quite the piece of eye candy here, when the film isn’t focusing on the extreme sailboat montages while jumping shots every split second to get every angle as humanly possible and it’s actually a little more subtle, that’s when it really sets off. The cinematography is much better when it is subtle, for example when it’s just two characters talking and the lighting is perfect and every single element of the beautiful set is explored by the camera. There’s no denying that Dakota Johnson is very good here (just like she was in the first one) but what really took me by surprise was the fact that Jamie Dornan actually decided to act in this one and explored his character more. It makes me very happy to see sequels where the people involved grow and learn from their mistakes of the movie before and generally aim to improve on them.
Unfortunately, the sequel improves on a few things but not all of them. No matter how much more we go to see of these characters, the writing is still as awful and as unnatural as ever. I mean, there really isn’t much to complain about seeing as these movies were adapted from “Twilight” fan fiction, they will obviously be cringing but everyone involved has accepted this by now and has done the most they can with it, but it is not enough. There are so many scenes that are played out for laughs (most notably, one about Christian knowing Anastasia’s banking information without her knowing) that seemed like they would play great problems throughout the story, if they took these seriously. The biggest problem I have with the film here is that there is no reason for the film to be showing these overlong, overly stylized and lackluster sex scenes that lack any edge or relevance. Mainly because first off, they aren’t graphic enough to try and do something interesting and strive for an NC-17 rating and second off, there is no BDSM anymore. Most of the nudity in the previous film came from the scenes where Anastasia was exploring Christian’s ways and the red room, here it is just an excuse to show soft-core pornography, there’s no meaning to it (all these scenes are also dubbed over by current mainstream music, so enjoy having your ears bleed as well). Blend all of that together with a useless helicopter crash that literally has no other effect on the story aside from creating five minutes of useless tension.
In the end, “Fifty Shades Darker” knows what it is but tries to be more than that. Throughout the entire time, it’s filled to the brim with melodrama, no matter how good the actors are who are translating the words to screen, it’s still melodrama. If you like the books, and you liked the first movie, then you’ll like this one for sure. The biggest problem isn’t for the fact that it’s poorly written or has some terrible line delivery (sometimes more so than the first), it’s that it has no reason to show its main selling point anymore, which is the soft-core pornography of course. We’re out of the whole BDSM thing so there is no reason to have the sex scenes so graphic anymore. Although they were done tastefully, they were so boring to watch because it ends the same way each time. But, hey, at least it’s a better first date movie than “The Space Between Us.”
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Shot well and Dakota Johnson gives it her all.
THE BAD – Overlong, cringe worthy in many aspects and absolutely horrendous writing.
THE FINAL SCORE – 4/10