“Fifty Shades Darker” is directed by James Foley and stars Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, and Eric Johnson. The film is the second in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy that is based on the books by E.L. James, and is about the continuing struggle for Anastasia to get close to Christian, as she now must not only deal with his troubled past but also with his past lovers.
2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” was, to put it simply, terrible. The characters had no real motives and simply went through the motions, which created brutally awkward sex scenes, a nonsense plot, and zero chemistry between the leads. With all that being said, I have heard that the books may get better after the first, and there is a new director at the helm here, so maybe there’s still hope that this future trilogy can make a serious turnaround.
There is some real improvement in the character building, especially with Christian Grey, as I actually found myself the slightest bit invested with what happened in this man’s past, and that is much more than I could ever say about the original. Jamie Dornan’s performance as a whole is much improved, as is Dakota Johnson’s, and even if there are numerous shortcomings within the elements of the movie, at least these two have some much-needed chemistry with each other to make the love scenes go over smoother.
Speaking of those, while they may not reach the heights that fans of the book, or of sex, would want, the sex scenes are more intense and more satisfying than the borderline rapey scenes in its predecessor. The dialogue is still incredibly flat during these moments, but if you go to these films for the love-making, “Darker” is less likely to disappoint.
This movie has a sleek look to it, as many of the scenes pop with some lovely color and smooth camerawork. There are a couple moments of comedy that made me chuckle when they actually intended me to, and a scene or two that legitimately got my attention with a bit of suspense or drama.
Once again, “Fifty Shades Darker” fails to grab my attention for more than the occasional scene or two, with the vast majority of the film going by in a painfully boring lull. There is just something about this relationship that is so hard to latch onto, with each painfully cheesy line of dialogue sounding like nails on a chalkboard, and even with better lead performances, it is still very hard to believe that these two legitimately love each other. Sure, the chemistry is better, but it is honestly hard to be worse than “Fifty Shades of Grey”, so that’s not all that large of a compliment.
There is still a lack of motivation to truly care about either of the two main characters in these movies, as they both are bad for each other and are successful enough alone that I don’t care at all if they make it or not. Christian Grey is a billionaire and is settling and Anastasia is moving up in her dream career and being held back by a crazy boyfriend, why should I want these people to be together? Also, this film tries soooooooo hard to force this relationship down your throats incredibly quickly and with so much relentless force that some moments get downright absurd in the storyline.
Eric Johnson as Anastasia’s boss, Jack, is pretty bad, but the role of Jack is something to behold. Jack is just an awfully made character, and I hated how on the nose and obvious his character became about an hour into the film. Another character I hate is José, the poor poor man. You may remember José as the sad soul who got friend zoned by Anastasia in the first film, and that only elevates in “Darker”. This is an element of the story that is thrown out there for a scene or two and then never spoken of again, which is something the movie has a habit of doing, and it just throws off the story each and every time.
The dialogue, once again, is pretty cringy, especially when it comes to what the screenwriters think is said by those who are in love. People just do not talk like the people do in these films, and it is awkward to listen to.
This has become a pretty common theme recently, but I still hate the fact that a movie can’t hold up on its own because they have to set up the sequel, and “Darker” is no different. There isn’t a satisfying end here, and, while I guess there is the smallest bit of intrigue for the final film, a cliffhanger for this movie is not what I wanted.
“Fifty Shades Darker” is a slight improvement over its predecessor, but that by no means makes it good. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have fine performances, but they are bogged down by bad writing, a bad plot, and a lack of anything all that interesting. A couple moments throughout doesn’t make up for all the long lapses of boredom this film has, as “Fifty Shades Darker” is not the movie to make me a fan of this series.
What did you think of “Fifty Shades Darker”? Comment below with your thoughts.