Hello again readers, and welcome back! If you've been reading this blog for a while now, you may recall way back in 2015 I wrote a post not dissimilar to this one, where I managed to narrow it down to only five things wrong with the movie adaptation of E.L. James' 'Fifty Shades of Grey' after I was forced to watch it at a sleepover (much to my dismay). Now, a year and a half later, I am back to write pretty much an identical post about the second installment, 'Fifty Shades Darker'. You may be wondering, why would I subject myself to watching the sequel if I hated the first film so much? And why would I actually give money to a franchise like this? Honestly, I went to see the second one for a laugh, because while I absolutely hated the first movie, I can't deny that I did thoroughly enjoy ripping it to shreds. And as for giving the franchise money? Let's just say that 'Resident Evil' has an extra $16 of revenue. Having thoroughly attempted to justify myself and my choices in this long-winded introduction, let's jump straight in . . .
1. The Title
I don't know about you, but to me, a movie sequel about BDSM entitled 'Fifty Shades Darker' implies that it's more intense and risque than the first one. Well, if you and I are in the same boat, then I'm sorry to disillusion you, but this is most certainly not the case. Avert your eyes if you desperately want to avoid spoilers, but I kid you not, the movie revolves around the beginning of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele's boring, vanilla relationship, with exciting moments such as Christian asking Ana to move in with him, the two shopping for groceries together, and finally ending with an underwhelming declaration of love and inevitable engagement. I'm low key tempted to start a petition to rename the movie to 'Fifty Shades of Domestic', but then I'd have to live with the fact that I was invested enough in this film series to headline a petition about it, and in all good conscience I don't think I can do that. Yes, as I covered in my post from 2015, the first film is unbelievably flawed, but to its credit, it at least had some sort of taboo factor that clearly drew people to it, but this excuse for a follow up didn't even deliver in that respect. I mean, who wants to sit in a cinema and watch an uninteresting couple do domestic chores and occasionally do the do? Literally no one.
2. The Story Arc
Okay, don't get me wrong, I didn't walk in to 'Fifty Shades Darker' expecting a cinematic masterpiece with an exquisite story arc, but for its plot to be even more implausible and structurally problematic than the first one is quite an achievement. Even with all of its seemingly never-ending flaws, I cannot deny that 'Fifty Shades of Grey' had an orientation, a climax (no pun intended) and a cliff-hangery ending, all of which of course were horrible and totally unrealistic, but hey, at least they were there. In the follow up however, literally none of these basic structural elements were present, and not in a 'ooh I'm so artsy I'm going to deliberately break all the rules' kind of way, but more in a 'I've never made a film before in my life and have no idea how to create a simple story arc' one. Again, if you don't want any spoiler alerts, look away now, because oh boy do I have a lot to say.
As I covered in my last point, the film was literally about a dull relationship between two young people which had no build up whatsoever, therefore breaking the cardinal rule of romance movie formula. At the beginning, we saw a stalkery girl hanging around who turned out to be one of Christian Grey's ex subdominant slaves, and were always expecting something catastrophic to happen as the film progressed. Well, long story short, it totally didn't. She came in to Anastasia's apartment holding a gun, and within a matter of seconds Christian had defused the situation, sent her off to a mental institution, and totally killed the storyline, so there goes that idea. Then, towards the end of the film, Christian was on a business trip and randomly got into a helicopter crash. I got excited, because I thought that perhaps the film could redeem itself by killing him off, but sadly that wasn't the case. Tension didn't even get a chance to rear its ugly head, because a few hours after the plane crash (and about a minute after we saw it happen on screen), Christian waltzed in to his apartment safe and sound with absolutely no explanation as to how he survived, before the matter was dropped completely and not mentioned again. The couple's relationship then went back to normal, rendering the entire film irrelevant, before, to top it all off, Anastasia's low key rapey boss is set up to be the third film's villain. If you're confused reading this, that makes two of us. Nevertheless, to summarise, the plot arc consists of no beginning, some defused rising action, a random new major plot point thrown into the mix at the last minute that was randomly discarded, no official ending, and a pitiful excuse for a hint as to what the next movie will deal with. I'm not professing to be a professional writer of film scripts, but that's just pathetic. And I'm sorry, but there is nowhere near enough sexual content to compensate for this many plot holes.
3. The Irrelevant Filler Scenes
You know in school when you write a first draft of an essay which is basically a few pages of word vomit that aren't actually relevant to your main argument? That was pretty much this film's entire script. I found myself often uttering aloud "what does this have to do with anything?" when I was bombarded with montages of Anastasia and Christian's seemingly never-ending 'romantic' boat trip, a post credits scene of them boarding his private jet and relaxing at the beach which was just as boring as it sounds, and a super irrelevant scene in which Ana spends a solid 5 minutes watching Christian exercise in his home gym. Why were these scenes included? My best guess is to try and infuse the story with some romance as a means of compensating for the chemistry that was lacking between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, however it 100% did not work. In fact, these purposeless time fillers just made me acutely aware of exactly how much of my life I was wasting by seeing this film.
4. The Horrendous Side Characters
Having to sit through the plights of the two lead characters in this film is bad enough, but trust me when I say that that's nothing compared to the plethora of irrelevant, excruciatingly annoying side characters with overly intricate backstories that randomly appear throughout the movie's 118 minute duration. Some of these horrendous presences include Kim Bassinger playing an overly controlling cougar and former BDSM tutor of Christian who thinks Anastasia is Satan, his irritating, syrupy mother who thinks Anastasia is Jesus incarnate, and his completely irrelevant, sassy sister played by Rita Ora who has no opinion of Anastasia either way. The fact that Kim Bassinger and Rita Ora are in this movie is baffling enough, but what is even more confusing is the amount of screen time these side characters actually get. Once again adding to the already extensive list of irrelevant filler scenes I mentioned above, whenever these characters speak or do anything, I question why they made the cut. Not to mention, absolutely none of them are likeable and just further fuel my hatred of the franchise.
I said it about the first film and I'll say it again, there is literally nothing good about this movie franchise, and I still have no idea why it exists.
Well folks, that's about all I have for you! Please keep in mind that all of the archaic gender stereotypes and terrible dialogue and implausibility that I talked about in my blog post from 2015 were not absent from this sequel, so if you do end up going to see it, you have all of those flaws and more to look forward to this time around. Saying that, while this movie is truly terrible (even more so than the first one) and anti-feminist and all kinds of offensive, I'm actually not recommending that you don't watch it. In fact, I suggest the complete opposite. If you're up for a laugh, sneak in to the movies or find an illegal copy and you are guaranteed to have the afternoon of your life, just whatever you do, do not add to this pathetic excuse for a franchise's revenue. Til' next time . . .