McCoy on Movies: Fifty Shades Darker

McCoy on Movies: Fifty Shades Darker

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Is this sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey” Red Room ready or is it a new form of torture? Read on for our movie critic’s steamy new review.

“If all else fails, I can get a jump on the sequel to Eyes Wide Shut: Eyes Wider!” Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) prepares to attend a ball with her paramour in a scene from FIFTY SHADES DARKER. Credit: Doane Gregory. © 2016 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved. 




KEY CAST MEMBERS: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Bella Heathcote, Max Martini, Victor Rasuk, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden and Kim Basinger 

WRITER(S): Niall Leonard (screenplay); E.L. James (novel on which the film is based)

DIRECTOR(S): James Foley


HERE’S THE STORY: The second installment of the trilogy based on novelist E.L. James Fifty Shades books, Fifty Shades Darker again stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Now broken up, Anastasia has moved on, enjoying her dream job at a Seattle-based publishing company learning the ropes under the tutelage of Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson). But Christian hasn’t. He wants her back and will do whatever it takes, even “re-negotiating terms.” 

But as soon as Anastasia and Christian seemingly begin to work things out, shadowy figures from the past and present star to interfere in their lives in a way that threaten to break them up forever.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Women who love cheesy romance novels, abs and exposed male buttocks; women who want a safe entry point to explore their BDSM fantasies; men who want to have sex with their lady but don’t think they have to put in much work if she liked the first movie

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Anyone not named in the previous section.

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? I could write a term-paper length dissertation on everything that makes Fifty Shades Darker an awful movie … But given how little effort apparently went into making the film, that would be more work than it’s worth. So, while I hate to say a movie is “awful,” but Fifty Shades Darker is damn close to as awful of a romantic film as you can release through a major Hollywood studio.

Look, since the target audience for this film is women, single women, married women, kinky women, young kinky single women, young kinky married women, older single kinky women and older married kinky women, let me save you a ton of time: Do not, I repeat, NOT drag your man along with you to Fifty Shades Darker. Simply go with your girlfriends out for the night, get some wine before or after the movie and enjoy the cheese that the film offers to compliment it for 2 hours. 

Johnson delivers the most, um, compelling performance of anyone in the film, which is best described as one part bad daytime soap opera (there’s a helicopter crash!) plus late-night Showtime/Cinemax soft core porn. (There’s a drink thrown in someone’s face, for goodness sake!) Dornan is fairly wooden in his emotions (and they are better than they were in the first movie, which is saying something), the s were in the first movie, which is saying something), the story is absolutely ridiculous (and, based on my limited exposure to people who consider themselves part of the BDSM community, not an accurate representation of the lifestyle) and the less said about Gay Harden and Basinger in this, the better. Johnson and Dornan’s “chemistry” is pitiful, the “villains” are comic book bad (don’t think modern Marvel; think ’80s Saturday morning cartoons), the dialogue is junior high first boyfriend/girlfriend insipid and James Foley (Glengarry Glenn Ross, House of Cards) should be ashamed for how terrible his overuse of foreshadowing and heavy-handed direction (here comes a dramatic moment) is. Then again, Niall Leonard didn’t give him much to work with script-wise; then again, he was working with original E.L. James novel, so …

If you really like the books or think that Pretty Woman or any of the Twilight films are good movies, you’ll like Fifty Shades Darker. If you just want to imagine the world has plenty of 27 year-old billionaires that are dark and mysterious because they have been abused but really have a heart of gold and need an – you know, I’m not going to talk about Johnson’s looks as there’s nothing wrong with them, but let’s just say I can’t think of a distinct quality about her or her character that stands out – a good woman to save him (oh yeah, AND he’s a freak in the bedroom, too!), go ahead!

If you don’t fall into the groups mentioned above, seeing Fifty Shades Darker is the equivalent of dragging a 25 year-old female who enjoys Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Migos music, ends all her texts with “lol” and clubbing to a Star Wars marathon. I’m not saying you can’t find a woman that fits that category who would enjoy Star Wars; I AM saying the effort to find that woman is not worth it just to prove a point.

And the only point one needs to prove about Fifty Shades Darker is that Fifty Shades Freed has nowhere to go but up from here – because this romance can’t get much worse.