Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

5:57 AM

Every Fairy Tale Has a Dark Side
This review contains Spoilers
 Fifty Shades Darker is directed by James Foley (House of Cards, At Close Range) and stars Dakota Johnson (How to Be Single, Black Mass), Jamie Dornan (The Fall, Anthropoid), Eric Johnson (The Knick, Smallville), Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile), Marcia Gay Harden (Into the Wild, Mystic River) and Rita Ora (Popstar). "While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her". The Fifty Shades of Grey series have become a controversial phenomenon - these films cause a lot of steam but the first was slated by critics. Fifty Shades Darker has had a promising marketing campaign...will this be an improvement?

Fifty Shades Darker is not a good film, period. This is a poorly made, filthy, thin and trashy film that is probably going to please fans of the source material and first film. Don't believe those promising trailers because once again Fifty Shades Darker is plotless and is simply just about sex - scenes are set up just for the characters to have sex, no other reason. I have to say though, I can understand why some may like these films as guilty pleasures - this definitely isn't the type of film you want to openly admit you have seen or like. Let's delve into the details of Fifty Shades Darker and why I'm planning to see it again...

The performances just aren't good. I don't know how anyone can praise the performances in these films. Some actually think Dakota Johnson is good, I think otherwise - I find her performance quite weak - there's not much to it at all and her character is extremely annoying - Ana is essentially a sex-hungry gold digger. Both of the leads should regret signing that contract to join these films because I don't think many come out outside of the fanbase thinking that they did a good job. I can understand why Johnson gets praised though when she's playing opposite someone as dire as Jamie Dornan - this man just can't act or he just doesn't put much effort into this performance. Dornan is unlikeable and when his acting gets tested (for instance, a scene where he is having nightmares), he becomes cringe-worthy. I also don't feel much chemistry between the two leads - I think they had better chemistry in the first film, I cared even less about them the second time around. The supporting cast aren't much help - Rita Ora is extremely miscast and she gets more lines this time and I don't know why because she is horrendous. Kim Basinger's character was a real missed opportunity - they really glossed over it, not going as dark as the title may suggest - Basinger was really underused which made the pay-off at the end of the film involving a glass of alcohol not very satisfying as not much villainy was created. None of the other performances are worth mentioning if I'm being honest. 

I have been defending Fifty Shades Darker prior to its release because I firmly believed that those trailers looked good - I even gave the film an honourable mention on my most anticipated films of 2017 list! What a fool I feel like....once again, Fifty Shades Darker has no plot! I was looking forward to this series taking more of a thriller route with the introduction of Christian's previous lovers but I felt more tension in the trailers than I did in the entire film. I was led to believe this was going to be central to the sequel's plot - it was more of a C-plot and reached its climax far too early and was never mentioned again. Some may defend the film and say the narrative of the plot is the blossoming romance between the leads but I feel like the romance hardly goes anywhere other than the engagement towards the end. They haven't learnt from the mistakes they made with the first one and honestly, I don't think they care because this series is known for its sex so the plot isn't the priority to the creators. The dialogue between the characters is still as cheesy, cliche, unoriginal and cringe-worthy as always - the plot is also extremely predictable. 

I've kind of touched on this but is Fifty Shades Darker actually any darker? Barely. We do get some development of Christian's childhood and some exploration of abuse but such a serious matter is basically brushed aside. I also don't really understand the introduction of this element as the film did nothing with it other than telling us that's why Christian enjoys being the dominant in sex. I think this is the most tasteless development to abuse I can think of - they are saying that Christian wouldn't be able to provide his unusual style unless he went through child abuse? Lovely! They also try and touch on mental illness with the stalker but it's honestly done really poorly as well - there is one tense moment where the girl actually fires her gun - everyone in the cinema jumped. But then the girl is almost dehumanised when Christian enters as she becomes very slave-like. I feel like Fifty Shades tries to be darker simply for entertainment - it's got nothing important to say and it's certainly not sensitive to issues. Another dramatic moment is the helicopter crash - I have serious problems with this whole sequence. Ok so Christian crashes and then we see him on the news in the next scene as missing. Firstly, Christian makes his way throughout the city without any press or paparazzi so why does the headline read 'Christian Grey missing' - if Grey is all of a sudden a person of interest, why are people not interested in him elsewhere? This sequence was very rushed - no tension was created at all as Christian arrives back safe and well literally during the news broadcast. The helicopter scene also just came out of no where and was almost like it was added simply for entertainment and to make the story reach an artificial climax. 

Now for the bit that Fifty Shades Darker actually gets right - the sex scenes. I don't really know how to describe them but they are definitely well choreographed and pretty intense. There are three or four in total and each one does make you feel uncomfortable but they do go much further than last time in my opinion. The soundtrack has also been well selected creating a good sound to these intimate moments - I can't listen to said songs in the same way though. The return to the red room is definitely the most graphic and intense scene which is kind of fitting as action films slowly build up the action and Fifty Shades Darker definitely builds up the sexual contact. Fifty Shades Darker though is basically porn - the fact that the plot isn't a priority and kind of doesn't exist says it all. Scenes are literally set up for sex to occur. I just think Fifty Shades Darker is the most substandard form of entertainment as it is blurring the boundary between pornography and film but this time, it's being released to audiences all around the world and watch it with others. I don't understand audiences these days - how is this appealing? You wouldn't pay to watch something with 300 others if it was labelled as porn so what makes Fifty Shades different?

For a film that has such a strong female fanbase, I don't understand why the male gaze is such a big element within the film's - never do we see Christian's frontal but we see basically all of Anastasia - this is objectification at its worse. At least be equal with these things right? Outside of the film's universe - this is kind of unfair on Dakota Johnson who is basically exploiting her full body whilst Jamie Dornan is managing to keep his frontal area still private. This isn't me saying the tables need to turn but I think they either need to give both genders the same treatment or don't go there at all. I've also believed in the past that Anastasia is one of the worst portrayals of females there is - however, looking at the film, she is actually quite strong-minded and won't be easily controlled by a man. I have realised it is Christian as the portrayal of a man that I have problems with - Christian is controlling, obsessed with sex, has mummy issues, arrogant, not very friendly and treats women like they are his pets - that is where the problem lies. If Christian believed a little more in equality than maybe Anastasia's character would be done more justice. 

So I didn't think Fifty Shades Darker at all so why do I have plans to see it again? I honestly don't have a good reason but I feel like I'll be able to see the film for what it truly is now the initial shock of the sexual scenes are gone - I'll be able to pick apart the dialogue a little more, see if these is any sense of tension and see if there is something in Dakota Johnson's performance I am missing. I also have to admit, these are fun films to watch - they provide comedy (not intentionally) and memorable cinema experiences with those you see it with. The other reason is my first screening of this was disrupted by a crying baby in the audience - why was a baby in Fifty Shades Darker? Well let's just say the crowd kind of kicked off which meant I missed some scenes so a second viewing will help me to get the full experience. 

Fifty Shades Darker isn't a film I despise because I am willing to watch it again but it is definitely not a good or well made film. There isn't a story and for me, films live or die based on their narrative. The acting is also quite weak - Johnson and Dornan do nothing for me and are both pretty wooden. Admittedly, the intimate scenes do meet expectations and are definitely not tame however, there are serious issues with objectification and the male gaze here. The soundtrack is good and probably my favourite part of the whole film. Fifty Shades Darker doesn't go much darker or deeper and I will be happy once Fifty Shades Freed is out of the way so we are finally free from this filthy franchise.

31
/100

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