Valentine’s Day is an annual reminder to many that they are single, lonely, and haven’t been laid in an ungodly amount of time. It only makes sense that Hollywood would cater to our sad souls with Fifty Shades Darker. Who wouldn’t want to live through Anastasia Steele? She’s pretty, yet bland, and twenty something with the soul of a mildly deranged elderly cat lady. Her first real relationship happens to be with Christian Grey; a multi millionaire that runs his own company, is stunningly attractive, and has deeply rooted childhood trauma to sift through. Add in some ‘kinky fuckery’ and you have a film that spits in the face of the Bechdel test, and is sure to bring the lonely perverts of the world scuttling out of their dens to sneak a peek.
I’m one of those perverts who read the books. I even enjoyed them to a point. However, the first film in the series, Fifty Shades of Grey, left me wanting. Cinematically, I found it dreary and the actors seemingly uncomfortable. The underlying BDSM plotline was about as believable as a LARPing session held in a Costco parking lot. In a movie that is meant to be a trilogy, you should probably want the audience to care about what happens next. I just didn’t care. This isn’t about Fifty Shades of Grey, no sir (pun intended), this is about Fifty Shades Darker.
Director James Foley replaced Sam Taylor-Johnson for part two of the series. The general plot for the first film doesn’t leave much room for cinematic creativity. Yet in my opinion, Foley has done what Taylor-Johnson failed to achieve in Fifty Shades of Grey. The plot is chock full of drama, and the story unfolded as much as the writing would allow. Still, Foley managed to take a bland dollar store cake and frost it better than any of the Cake Boss schlubs could hope to achieve. My mind didn’t wander the same way it did with the first installment and the scenes flowed almost seamlessly together. For a story with a weak plot, it was, at the very least, entertaining to watch.
What really won me over, however, was the soundtrack. I often find popular songs in movies to be distracting or out of place; however Danny Elfman knows what he’s doing. Music is a large part of the stories in the books, making a scene more sensual or personal, and I think they executed a very catchy soundtrack with modern and classic music that I might even take the time to download someday.
The acting. Jamie Dornan is absolutely phenomenal in The Fall. So to be as unbiased as possible, I haven’t really seen Dakota Johnson in anything else to give an honest opinion on her specifically. Whether it’s just the writing, the subject or the pressure, these two are downright awkward to watch. I’d hardly believe they were dating for more than a couple days, let alone in love enough to elope after a few months. Again, I stress that it may just be the story, which is told in first person in the books. First person rarely transfers well to film. Yet, in a movie that focuses on a couple supposedly in love enough that it transcends reason, chemistry ought to be palpable. No amount of pretty vista’s or catchy songs can make up for it.
In the end when you’re watching Fifty Shades Darker, don’t anticipate anything Oscar worthy, at the most you’re going home with a new guilty pleasure, at the least, you’ll be trying to figure out where to torrent the soundtrack.
Wait for the DVD.
Totally a guilty pleasure that I'd be willing to download illegally. Nothing I would ever own outright.