Fifty Shades of Grey directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson:
I never thought I would say this but the best part of Sam Taylor-Johnson’s (Nowhere Boy) is the sex. That is because the rest of it – meaning the plot – is as bad as anything you would find in the porn world. In all honesty though no one has come to see this film for the story. Though if you are coming to see this expecting some really rough sex you too will be disappointed as most of the stuff is quite tame and the rougher stuff happens off screen. It is a rather tame depiction of BDSM.
Model turned actor Jamie Dornan has proven his talent in the BBC series The Fall, in which he plays a serial killer with women issues. Fifty Shades of Grey is a step back for him actingwise. I am not ready to say whether it was his fault or the lack of meat in the character. It is a rather shallow character so I am leaning that way. All the role really asks of him is to look hot and he does a better job of that playing a serial killer.
As a feminist (stop rolling your eyes now!) I’m totally thankful that they removed a lot of the more annoying characteristics of the Ana character that appear in the E.L. James’ penned novel. Plus she does not say half of the ridiculous things that come out her mouth in the book. Wisely screenwriter Kelly Marcel (wrote screenplay for Saving Mr. Banks) has eliminated most of the clunkiest of James’ dialogue. Dakota Johnson even inserts a couple of moments of strength in the character. Enough to make you long for a film in which this was a contest between equals. That would make it all that much more hotter, no? If I had to vote for an MVP from the film it would be Dakota Johnson. She was better than I expected, looked great and tries her best to make this rubbish watchable.
As a favour to her sick roommate Kate (played by Eloise Mumford) literature student Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson) agrees to go and interview wealthy businessman Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan). While interviewing him Anastasia discovers that the man is handsome and brilliant but also intimidating.
Though she is a little frightened of him the less experienced and a little naïve Ana finds herself drawn to Christian. This despite the fact that he is not very forthcoming or encouraging during the interview. She is drawn like a moth to a flame. Christian is also attracted to the beautiful and vulnerable young woman. Of course, because of the type of man he is this relationship is going to unfold on Christian’s terms. He is a man who needs to be in control of every aspect of his life including his sex live. A contract is negotiated and a dominant-submissive relationship begins.
Bottom line is that watching this is pretty much a soul stealing proposition. If you are looking for a film with hot sex scenes I recommend you check out Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac or even the recent French film, Blue is the Warmest Color. The film is better than the book but that is not saying much is it. Prepare yourself for more of this schlock because the other two books in the series are going to be made into films as well…sigh.
Fifty Shades Darker directed by James Foley:
Part deux of the Fifty Shades saga carries on the tradition of the first. Unfortunately for film goers the first film was a stinker and Darker follows along that well worn path. Much about this film is similar to the first in that the leads have little chemistry (which pretty much equals death in a film like this), the director (James Foley) lacks vision or originality, Dakota Johnson does a better job than Jamie Dornan and the story is rather weak.
After the first film was found to be wanting the minds behind it decided not to engage director Sam Taylor-Johnson to helm the second. James Foley of House of Cards, Glengarry Glen Ross and Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” fame came on board. I guess they thought he could right the ship. Instead he struggles just as mightily as Taylor-Johnson did. Here’s an idea maybe it is the source material. Schlock produces schlock evidently.
Anastasia (played by Dakota Johnson) has decided that a relationship (and her understanding of what that means) is not possible with Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan), so she has moved on. Working now at a publishing house she seems to be getting on with her life.
Suddenly Christian is back in the picture and her life. He claims he is madly in love with her. She is not able to resist the billionaire. The battle for control over life and love begins.
Even in the bedroom things change as Anastasia asserts herself and tells Christian she is not longer willing to succumb to him. Anastasia now wants to call the shots. Complicating things even further are a trio of new characters – Anastasia’s boss (played by Eric Johnson), one of Christian’s former submissives (played by Bella Heathcote) and the older woman who made Christian the way he is, Elena Lincoln (played by Kim Basinger).
This is supposed to be a sexy film and rather is eerily devoid of emotion. So much so that you find yourself neither drawn to nor caring about either of the characters. I know, as the title of the film indicates, that this is supposed to be Darker. but really? In actuality, they could have been more successful marketing this as a comedy because there are plenty of laugh out loud moments. Not that they intended these scenes to be funny.
The final film (phew!) in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Free, is due to be released in 2018. Then you won’t have to debate going to see any more nor will I have to struggle to find some redeeming qualities about it to write about. Let the countdown begin!
Fifty Shades Freed directed by James Foley:
Going into the third film of this series you had to be aware of what you were getting into. With each subsequent film the quality went down. So you could not possibly have had to had many expectations with this the final one. And yet I still found myself shocked. Shocked by the horribleness of it all. This, by far, was the weakest film of the three. Even the music here was only a shade of the original’s.
There is even precious little sex to be found here. Isn’t that really what people have been coming to the Fifty Shades films for? The opportunity to see a couple of attractive people engage in some slap and tickle? Though the novels were no great feats of literature they delivered what a certain swath of women wanted. Now on the big screen that naughtiness has been totally toned down. Maybe it is true that marriage kills even the most vigourous love life…it is all now rather predictable…like the storyline itself.
Yes, marriage. Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan), the man who likes dominating women in the bedroom and did not seem capable of monogamy, has had a ring put on it. The woman is Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson) and she is now Mrs. Grey. The two newlyweds head off to the city of love, Paris, for their honeymoon.
After some post wedding coitus, they return to their lives in rainy Seattle. Christian gets back to work and Ana is delving into her new promotion as fiction editor at the indie publishing house she works at. Once back at home, being married has its share of bumps. Christian is not happy that Ana has not taken his name at work, is upset when she mentions something about having a baby and really loses it when she goes for a drink with a friend without asking his permission.
Behind the anger is Christian being worried about Ana’s former boss, Jack Hyde (played by Eric Johnson), plotting revenge against the two. He is obviously unhinged.
Like the previous films, what ultimately sinks the film is the lack of chemistry between the two leads. Instead of burning red hot, it is all rather grey (I couldn’t resist). Instead of believing that these two cannot wait to rip each other’s clothes off they seem to not be able to wait until the film series is over.
The character of Christian Grey is pretty much an impossible ask for the actor portraying him. He is pretty much a fantasy man. A man that many women would like to “heal” with all his baggage and damage. There is his painful past which “explains” why he revels in being the dominant in bed. Then you have to add in the unsure in real life side. Christian demonstrates himself to be petulant and without any real self confidence. Dornan just has never within the three films ever seemed to have gotten a handle on how to play Christian Grey. Which I cannot really blame him for. It is made even more precarious, his uncertainty as an actor, when he plays most of his scenes beside the very charismatic Dakota Johnson. She is just so likeable. Even when here character is annoying. As an actress, Johnson does not take this material as serious. She always seems amused by what is going on. Even though Dornan and those watching aren’t.
Most of the story here involves ridiculous decisions and cheesy dialogue. That plus the rather tame sex scenes equals yawns from the audience. Most of the choices the characters make are rather head scratchers. No human in their right minds would behave like they do. Though the novels were rather trashy here the writing is just plain lazy. Scenes that are supposed to be filled with tension end up rather amusing. Scenes that are supposed to give us insight about the characters (Christian playing piano and singing is a classic example of this) end up just being silly.
-The World of Fifty Shades of Grey: Christian Grey, Ana, Friends & Family
-E L James & Fifty Shades
-Behind the Shades
-A Darker Direction
-Intimate with Darker
-A Tease to Fifty Shades Freed
-Deleted Scene: Hickey and Apology
-The Final Climax
-Christian & Ana by Jamie & Dakota
-A Conversation with EL James and Eric Johnson