“Fifty Shades Darker” is an uncomfortable mess.
Continuing the risqué romance between Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), “Fifty Shades Darker” introduces new elements into the story. With the introduction of Christian’s previous lovers and the infamous Elena (Kim Bassinger), more of Christian’s past is unveiled.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 1.5
Plagued with redundancy and disjointed subplots, “Fifty Shades Darker” is inconsistent throughout. The first film carried a taboo subject matter that garnered intrigue in the realm of character development. This sequel is a direct continuation of the first film but with less gratuitous sex which I thought would create a stronger contextual basis. I was wrong. The film is strung together with smaller independent plots where the sex scenes act as a transition between each side story. Different dynamics of the characters’ lives are explored but lack fluidity. There’s an underlying connection between the moments but not an explicit one. For example, Christian’s unstable ex lover has a few intermittent moments throughout, but is quickly dismissed with little impact on the film and practically no resolve. Just like many of the other supporting characters, she could have been dismissed with a simple conversation based on how she was utilized.
The dialogue falls into the same realm as it does in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” It’s fine to be read in a romance novel, but when spoken aloud, it seems unnatural and forced. While Dornan and Johnson’s performances were subpar, I would attribute their faults to the dialogue rather than their abilities as actors. I would say the same for other actors as well. Most are victims of a novel that does not translate well to film.
There are a few redeeming moments throughout the film. One would be the experience of living out Christian’s lavish life. The film does well when it comes to visually showcasing his wealth. The other would be the moments of sexual exploration due to curiosity and Christian and Ana’s relationship. Much of the subject matter is focused on their explicit sex life so it’s logical to want to see how it develops. The other half of the intrigue comes from the ludicrous acts they engage in which had myself and the audience laughing during certain scenes.
Essentially “Fifty Shades Darker” is a regurgitated version of the first film. I see the attempts to explore other areas but the story never finds its footing.
Entertainment Value – 2
It was difficult to fully engage in this film. There was little elaboration on the characters from what we learned in the first film. Although the obscurity of their relationship did pique my interest and somewhat carried over into this sequel. But as previously mentioned, there’s less sexual exploration which left behind a bland relationship with no emotional foundation to build upon.
Regardless of how “Fifty Shades” tries to sell these characters, without their sex life they are boring. Other characters like Ana’s boss, Christian’s ex lover, and Elena are sidelined to make room for more terms of endearment moments between Christian and Ana. If these supporting characters would have been leveraged to create conflict in their relationship, this could have been an entertaining film. Unfortunately “Fifty Shades Darker” is a dragged out continuation with less flair than the original.
Re-Watchability – 1.5
If I had an urge to watch a “Fifty Shades” film, I would just watch “Fifty Shades of Grey” rather than “Fifty Shades Darker.” There is little added value in this sequel that cannot already be satisfied by the original.
"Fifty Shades Darker" attempts to captivate following the same mechanics of the first film while poorly building upon the story. There are opportunities to add depth with new characters, but unfortunately they are quickly dismissed.