FILM REVIEW: FIFTY SHADES DARKER (18)
SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: DAKOTA JOHNSON, JAMIE DORNAN, ERIC JOHNSON, MARCIA GAY HARDEN, BELLA HEATHCOTE, LUKE GRIMES, RITA ORA, MAX MARTINI, BRUCE ALTMAN, ELOISE MUMFORD, VICTOR RASUK, ANDREW AIRLIE, ROBINNE LEE, AMY PRICE-FRANCIS & KIM BASINGER
RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 58 MINS
DIRECTOR: JAMES FOLEY
Compared to the first movie this is more like fifty shades lighter as it fails to improve on the faults from the original.
Yep it’s extremely wooden, poorly scripted, and unintentionally cheesy, but that said, there’s an underlying likeability factor that’s hard to ignore.
The erotica factor seems to have been actually toned down a notch – more ‘lighter’ than ‘darker’ kinky – as the movie revolves more around Dakota Johnson’s ‘girl next door’ Ana Steele and Jamie Dornan’s ‘confused billionaire’ Christian Grey finding themselves after resuming their romance.
After Fifty Shades of Grey was left on a bit of a cliff-hanger, it doesn’t take long for them to reconcile and recommence their relationship on Ana’s terms, and from that the movie generally pans out in a formulaic – not much better than a TV movie – fashion, with the expected half a dozen sexual liaisons thrown in for the inevitable fanbase appeasement.
The drama (let’s call it that) is generally centred on Ana starting a new career in a Seattle publishing house – having caught the attention of her new boss Jack (Eric Johnson) – and then her learning more about the harrowing past of her demanding lover, which includes appearances from exes (Bella Heathcote’s damaged Leila) and the woman who introduced to his life of sexual vices, Kim Basinger’s Elena Lincoln.
Throughout you see a marginal swing back from Ana towards Christian’s more ‘singular’ tastes, but, unlike Sam Taylor-Johnson’s first movie, James Foley’s follow-up feels slightly more toned down – and it doesn’t feel too far from having garnered a ‘15’ certificate. It probably got the ‘18’ certificate for one scene alone.
Unfortunately despite it being more than serviceable, you can’t get away from the truly terrible scripting – does Rita Ora have the most generic lines in movie history? – and some unintentionally comedic scenes – Christian back from the dead after his shoehorned-into-the-movie helicopter crash – but for a film that’s trying so hard to be divisive, it’s actually fairly harmless.
This all adds up to a paint-by-numbers affair that is so simplistic that not too many dots have to be joined up – and if you’re happy with that then it’s difficult to slam its very obvious flaws.
Review by Gavin Miller