While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.
Whether or not you’re going to see Fifty Shades Darker depends on your verdict on the first. I, being a guy, had a good laugh at the original and put my hand up to take the bullet – and a date - to see the sequel.
Amazingly it turns out the first Fifty was highbrow stuff compared to the follow-up, thanks to it’s indie – and very female – director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Taylor-Johnson fell out with author E L James, who probably kicked up a fuss at someone who thought they’d have some fun with her dead-serious sexacapes.
Probably dodging a bullet, Taylor-Johnson walked away from the franchise and was replaced by 63 year-old director James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross). Because a 63 year-old guy who’s best days are behind him knows exactly what women think. Worst still E L James ditched Kelly Marcel, the BAFTA-nominated screenwriter of Saving Mr Banks - a woman who knows about writing about women - for hubby Niall Leonard. Both men are looking after the Fifty Shades Freed FYI.
Boy does James’ TV-writing background show - and the influence of his wife. The dialogue is hilariously bad and seems completely written for trailer soundbites – “What do you want?” “I want all of you”. It really does sound like a teenage girl’s fan-fiction fantasy of being swept away by a mysterious billionaire. And any good movie worth it’s salt has stakes – ‘will they get back together?’ that lasted all of five minutes - and every potential threat is solved seconds later. The trailer is complete misdirection, and the helicopter scene that tries to add some high-stakes drama is seriously WTF.
The sex is reasonably hot – thankfully as that’s what you paid for – but still a bit tame compared to the book (well that’s what my date said). For something that’s known for x-rated bondage I really thought they’d up the ante here, but the pull out just as things get interesting. And I’m going to address the white elephant in the room – where’s his trunk? Would it hurt to actually have a full frontal male nudity and cause some commotion? But at least this time Dornan has had time to bulk up – rather than stepping in last minute – and he looks the goods.
One of the films saving graces is it’s stellar sultry soundtrack. Like its predecessor there are plenty of bedroom jams to ‘cuddle’ to – Zayn and Taylor Swift’s I Don’t Want to Live Forever, Corinne Bailey Rae’s cover of The Scientist, and others from Sia, John Legend and Nick Jonas. Though some choices are as subtle as a sledgehammer, like The Police’s So Lonely and Hasley’s I’m Not Afraid Anymore.
But this thing is critic proof - I have female friends already lining up to see it again – and any backlash is pointless, most people know it’s mindless blockbuster trash, just aimed at women for once. The packed female audience I was with had a great laugh – there’s one use of lipstick that had us in stitches – and in this current climate Fifty Shades of Grey is funnier than fifty shades of orange-haired buffoonery.
If you enjoyed the first Fifty, Fifty Shades Darker is more of the same - trashy dialogue, plenty of dodgy sex and a stellar sultry soundtrack. Though it lacks a woman's touch behind the camera it’s still a good - and unintentional - laugh.
Releases: 9th February 2017
Duration: 117 minutes
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Tyler Hoechlin
Director: James Foley (Confidence)
Rumors circulated in early 2015 that Jamie Dornan had made a decision not to reprise his role as Christian Grey in the future Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) films. However, those rumors were eventually debunked by his official rep who stated he was completely devoted to the franchise.
After receiving backlash that clean shaven Jamie Dornan wasn't sexy enough as Christian Grey in the first film the producers decided that he could keep his stubble for Darker and Freed.
Fans have expressed interest in actresses such as Kim Cattrall, Michelle Pfeiffer and Charlize Theron for the role of Elena Lincoln aka "Mrs. Robinson".
Was filming in Nice, France during the terror attack.