FIFTY SHADES DARKER Is Horrific And Horrifying It's bad
Spoilers for Fifty Shades Darker follow.
At the end of Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson’s Anastasia Steele leaves Jamie Dornan’s Christian Grey. She finally realizes that his lifestyle is not for her. That, of course, is not conducive for a sex-fueled romance movie.
How do you fix that? You put Ana in a horrifying situation filled with creepy men. She starts the movie off receiving flowers from Christian, then decides to go to an art show put on by the artist friend who tried to take advantage of her when she was drunk in the first movie. It turns out he secretly took photos of her and put the photos up in his gallery without her permission.
The creepy friend soon fades into the background because Christian Grey bought all the photos of Ana. He asks her to dinner, she promptly says yes. There’s no in-character reason for this to happen, Ana seems perfectly happy without Grey, getting a new job and seemingly over Christian. But hey, the movie has to move on somehow, right?
Fifty Shades Darker is a fraud of a movie. It is absolute garbage.
This film doesn’t have a plot. Instead, it just follows these two in several phases of their relationship. First they’re getting back together, with Christian doing creepy things and Ana telling him how creepy he is. The dude threatens to buy her place of employment, a little independent book publisher. He has people create a dossier on her. He takes her to his ex’s hair salon.
It’s all pretty horrifying, and it would have been interesting if Fifty Shades Darker decided to use that to comment on abusive relationships or something like that. But nah, it doesn’t. Instead, it uses it as context to throw some sex scenes at you.
I wish I could tell you that the romance series that got popular because it featured kinky sex was sexy, but it isn’t. This is tame stuff outdone by HBO and Starz on a weekly basis. The film tries to use it as a way to illustrate that Ana is taming Christian’s wild side, but it can’t even do that right. At one point, Ana wants to use some of the more extreme tools in his sex dungeon. She picks out a thing and Christian tells her that she needs to learn to walk before she can run, because the device she’s holding is too wild for her.
But it turns out the device is light bondage that keeps ones legs spread. Ana did crazier stuff in the first movie. It pretends to be kinky and dangerous, but it’s about as kinky as turning on the lights.
There is one place where Fifty Shades Darker succeeds. It creates scenarios where Ana and Christian do kinky things in public, pushing their boundaries. There’s a segment where they stick a pair of silver balls into Ana’s vagina and then go to Christian’s parent’s charity ball. She can’t laugh or sit without feeling them, and here she is trying to play nice with Christian’s decent family. There are a couple of these scenes in the film, and they’re far more effective and creative than the actual sex scenes. The movie kind of glosses over them for the actual sex scenes though.
Once you’re fully convinced that Christian is a huge creep, the movie throws another creep at you: Ana’s boss, who wants to casting couch her. He wants Ana to sleep with him so he can help her career. It’s pretty clear this guy is here to make us appreciate Christian’s power. The young billionaire is so rich he can’t help but show it off. They go grocery shopping and he mentions that the last time he went shopping he bought a plane. He gives Ana a $24,000 check and tells her not to worry because he makes that every hour. So yeah, here’s another rich and powerful man using that power to manipulate a woman. But hey, don’t worry, Christian is the good one!
There’s another subplot about one of Christian’s old subs, who is having a breakdown because her new husband died and she seems traumatized by what Christian did to her. It’s pretty bad, he can command her like a dog. I wish I were joking.
Fifty Shades Darker continually ups the creep factor. I wish I could say that it was having fun with all of it and that it was trying to subvert something, but it isn’t. It’s just a series of outlandish, creepy interactions that make you root for this couple to get out of each other’s lives forever. You just want Ana to go off and be happy, not get dragged into this psycho world.
That feeling is only possible because Johnson and Dornan do a good job. Johnson is charming and spunky, not hesitating to play things with a touch of camp. She’s also perfect at pointing out how ridiculous everything is (when the movie allows her to point out how ridiculous things are). Dornan, on the other hand, feels different from the first movie. He feels more comfortable, more tortured by his past. He also seems desperate and aloof.
Those two aren’t good enough to to make up for how stupid a lot of this movie is. They’re definitely not good enough to ward off how long this movie feels. At one point, I wondered if I would spend the rest of my life in this movie.
At one point in the movie, Christian Grey admits that he isn’t actually into BDSM relationships. Instead, he’s just a sadist. That was the one moment I felt fully in sync with both Mr. Grey and Fifty Shades Darker. They must enjoy making us sit through this pile of shit.
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