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‘Fifty Shades Darker,’ but not much better

The sequel to 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” delivers soon to be classic quotes such as, “Here I am being romantic, and you ruin it with your kinky f*ckery,” and “Are you going to put that in my butt?” I may have paraphrased those, but you get the idea.

During the movie, Christian Grey admits to something that is totally unexpected: he is actually a sadist. It is a twist of M. Night Shyamalan proportions. Photo credit: Zach Bermejo



The film’s stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprise their roles as Bella and Edwar—

Oh wait, sorry. I forgot that the names got changed in this “Twilight” alternate universe.

Anyways, “Darker” picks up the story at some ambiguous amount of time after the events of the first film’s dramatic, cliffhanger finale in which Anastasia, played by Johnson, left Christian, played by Dornan. However, the viewer is not given enough time to feel the intended impact of that ending. A mere 10 minutes into “Darker,” Anastasia and Christian are already back at it again.

From that, the movie sets itself up to explain the more nuanced side of Christian Grey, and how he wants to change his medieval sex dungeon ways. However, the writing talent is not there to develop a character that maybe does have potential to be dramatically engaging. When Christian is literally asked about his traumatic past, he just says his mother was addicted to drugs and the rest is “pretty self-explanatory.”

Well, no, it is actually not self-explanatory. That is kind of why we have this sequel. But whatever, the vague answers given to Anastasia from Christian do not matter because most every conflict between the two are solved through sex or luxurious distractions.

But I will admit, some of the cinematography was pretty. The opening title sequence displays creative shots of a white rose that made me think I was watching an episode “Chef’s Table.” The costume design for the masquerade ball scene was very fun to look at before it got cut short by Grey’s wanton desire to have sex that very moment.

If you are looking for kinky sex scenes just watch the first film again, or even porn for that matter.

“Darker” does not try to get too freaky, as per the narrative, but it means that they settled for boring and unimaginative. I think more clothing was actually added than removed as the scenes progressed.

Yeah, now that I think about it, go with porn. It is free and you will probably like it more.


When the film is not going back and forth between poor exposition and shadowy sex, it tries to fit some lazy subplots. Most of them rely on Christian’s past trying to come back to haunt him, but they all involve ancillary characters doing odd shit without any clearly defined motive. In fact, Anastasia’s John Constantine-looking boss, played by Eric Johnson, manages to get his own villain origin story by the film’s end.

But there is really no rational or normal people in the movie. If they appear to be that way, they are just sort of there in the scene not really doing anything. That, or they are the victim of an awkward stare-down. Those happen pretty frequently in the film.

Should you watch it?: No.

Much like a hormone-charged teenager, “Fifty Shades Darker” is confused about what kind of movie it wants to be. The film mixes elements of romance, mystery and even thriller, but can never settle on one or pull it off well. If anything, the film excels in comedy, but I do not think any of it was intentional. What you end up with is two hours of a visually enhanced soap opera spliced with mediocre soft-core pornography and less money in your bank account. There is nothing memorable and even the soundtrack fails to be a saving grace, but I guess that is what happens without The Weeknd. Hell, as I am writing this, all I can remember is the line “kinky f*ckery.” I think that alone speaks volumes.

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