Fifty Shades Darker Review

Fifty Shades Darker
  • Directing7
  • Writing5
  • Acting7
Overall6.3

James Foley's Fifty Shades Darker consists of too many subplots that never get resolved, not to mention it lacks the directorial style of Sam Taylor-Johnson. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan's chemistry has improved, but that's still not enough to keep this wanna-be sleazy and erotic "romance" from choking on its own gag.

Author E.L. James‘ worldwide sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey, came to the screen with force back in 2015, featuring plenty of R-rated sex and kinkery, but very little plot and character development. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson attempted to shoot the cold and grey film with a little style and sophistication, making for an unfinished romance that looked way better than it had any right to be.

Now, director James Foley steps in to direct the sequel, titled Fifty Shades Darker, which brings back the “lively” characters of Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The sequel presents even more subplots, but features even less resolve, resulting in a film that’s almost too true to the source material.

Fifty Shades Darker literally throws as much content as possible at the screen, without ever trying to piece things together into a film that progresses from one act to another. Instead, viewers will feel a sense of confusion as Christian randomly crashes a helicopter one minute, only to be found humping Anastasia without a care in the world the next.

It brings in multiple new characters, while also revisiting some familiar ones, but for no good reason at all, aside from adding a living background to whatever Anastasia and Christian are doing.

Their friends and family mean absolutely nothing to the story and director James Foley captures their pointlessness with an unfocused lens that truly lacks the “style” that previous series director Sam Taylor-Johnson brought to the first installment.

At the very least, Fifty Shades of Grey looked gorgeous. Boring office conference rooms were turned into rooms full of electricity and energy, while backdrops of rainy Seattle slowly started to set the mood for the shy and unconfident Anastasia.

Christian’s wealth was also captured with modern architecture and a flashy presentation that made him a mysterious, yet slightly intriguing character, despite knowing exactly where the film was heading.

Fifty Shades Darker looks like it was shot on an expensive handicam, with little thought put into the presentation of the shots, color or location. I’m sure most Fifty Shades fans don’t really care about the film’s technical merits, but when your story lacks serious substance then you just might want to try to¬†achieve one solid positive¬†about the entire production.

I say that because the chemistry, which has gotten better — is still a little stiff and all-over-the-place. Dakota Johnson digs a little deeper into the emotionally handicap Anastasia, with a bipolar attitude that would surely send most “normal” guys running.

But Christian Grey is far from normal. Actually, he’s written to be some sadistic sex monster, but the actual sex that happens between him and Anastasia could be described as “tame” and not all that erotic as the books and film’s trailers lead you to believe.

So she likes a blindfold over her eyes while sleeping with her boyfriend. Is that really something to get all hot and bothered about?

Jamie Dornan‘s Christian Grey is still as dull as a piece of wood. His emotions are non-existent and his character’s “struggle” is laughably one dimensional. He doesn’t like it when people touch him on his chest, more specifically near his heart, yet Anastasia does that about one thousand times between both films, but every so often he has a random outburst of physical uncertainty and he pushes her away…..only to attach to her sexually for hours just minutes after.

The logic of this series is about sturdy as a rotted piece of wood holding up a 500lb man at an all-you-can-eat taco buffet. It’s messy, ugly and mostly just sad.

I’ll admit that I actually thought Fifty Shades of Grey was a decent film. It was well-shot and the Unrated Cut featured a much more satisfying ending.

Fifty Shades Darker introduces so much more, but spends even less time making sense of it all. The main two characters might be more defined, but the rest of the cast is wasted air. There really isn’t any other way to describe the film.

Director James Foley should have either embraced the material fully and went all wild and crazy with it or not even bother. Why pretend to be this mysteriously complicated romance, drenched in hot sweat and covered in latex, if you’re just going to end up taking a cold shower at the end anyways?

The most erotic thing about Fifty Shades Darker is the Chronicles of Riddick poster on the wall of Christian Grey’s childhood room. Cast Vin Diesel in the third installment or don’t even bother. (Actually, please don’t.)

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