*Contains Spoilers and NSFW Language*
It’s hard to explain exactly what goes on in Fifty Shades Darker. Not because it’s inappropriate and raunchy or anything—but because it just doesn’t really make sense.
The premise of the first film is basically a shy girl meets a really attractive rich dude who wants to spank her, but she doesn’t want that even though he buys her cars and laptops. She could live in the lap of luxury, but she cares too much about romance because she’s an English major.
Call me crazy, but if I had the chance to have basically anything I have ever wanted while living with someone I find extremely attractive and all they asked in return was to spank me every once in a while I would sure as shit be okay with it.
But we all know Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) leaves the alluring Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) at the end of the first film. He took things a little too far, freaked Ana out a little bit, and then the movie just ends.
The first movie was mediocre—at best. The saving grace is that the story is at least a little interesting, but god are the people just plain awful and remain to be.
This time around, Ana is forging her path to become a book publisher while Christian remains in shambles after having his billionaire heart crushed because he actually doesn’t get what he wants for once. Their first encounter in the film is at a photo exhibition where the creepy “friend” of Ana who tried to take advantage of her while she was drunk in the first film has apparently been granted permission to take photos of her—only to have them all be bought by Christian who simply cannot have anybody else look at her.
So their romance is reignited all too quickly–about twenty minutes in–and it proceeds in much of the same way as the first but Ana actually stands up for herself. But for a movie that has a titled that literally promises for things to be “darker,” they really aren’t and its an especially vanilla film—both for its sex acts…and for its people. I mean come on, this is Seattle. I see more people of color on my fifteen-minute walk to work than in the entirety of this two-hour soft-core porno.
My major complaint with the first film is it wasn’t kinky enough, and the same can be said here. I will always say the biggest downfall of this movie trilogy was not making it NC-17, but it’s still enough to make bored, middle-aged women feel frisky.
It saddens me as a film critic that one of the staples of this trilogy are the sex scenes, and that they actually beg to be compared and contrasted. They’re fine, they aren’t special, but they’ll probably make you feel a little uncomfortable while you all sit in a communal environment watching two really attractive people caress and wash each other and have various objects shoved into their orifices.
The two leads seem to have gotten along better this time around ‘cause it seems like they can actually tolerate each other. A different director and screenwriter also help make it feel a little more “human,” but the source material is still just so fucking creepy. I mean, Christian gets access to Ana’s bank account and acts like it’s not a big deal at all. It is. It’s psychotic and stalker-ish.
You wonder why men think this shit’s ok? Here’s one of many reasons and the movie doesn’t really do anything to prevent it from feeling normalized. If you’re persistent, have a lot of money, and you’re creepy as all hell you can get women. Ugh.
Thankfully the screenwriter this time around got rid of some of the dreadful dialogue that plagued the first film, but still includes lines such as “kinky fuckery” which is either really funny or just plain sad depending on how you look at it. Also back for a second round are horribly obnoxious songs that really have no purpose other than to be hip and modern, and excessive shots of whatever vehicle Ana and Christian are riding in. We see his giant yacht from about ten different angles in a scene that lasts entirely too long as that miserable Zayn and T-Swift song plays way too loud over it.
Then there’s the whole fiasco also known as Act III where literally nothing makes sense and Christian somehow finds the energy just hours after being in a near-fatal accident to bone Ana some more. It sounds like a laughably bad porno plot but it’s actually trying to be serious, and that’s what make it so, so bad.
Fifty Shades Darker is a cautionary tale of not getting into relationships with abusive, creepy rich men. It fails on nearly every level and makes you wonder how such garbage can be made when there are so many more valuable voices out there that need to be heard.
At least its seven minutes shorter than its predecessor.