One of my best friends and I got a Moviepass recently, and because my friend is crazy, she’s decided she’s going to watch a movie every single day. Somehow, I let her talk me and my boyfriend into going into 50 Shades Darker.
For those of you who have somehow had the fortune of missing the phenomenon that is 50 Shades, here’s quick primer: There was a terrible book called Twilight which involved a love triangle between a vampire, a werewolf, and a regular teenage girl. It somehow spanned over three books. Shortly after, a middle aged lady decided to write her own fanfiction with the same characters, minus the werewolves vs. vampire parts and more sex. Specifically, the story incorporated a lot of inaccurate BDSM. This fanfic got picked up by a publishing company and turned into an actual book. These books got turned into a movie. Now, I’ve seen the first movie, and I got halfway through the first book before I got bored (there is much better smut out there in fanfiction, believe me). I have not read any of the subsequent books, and I didn’t see the second movie. And yet, somehow, I don’t think I missed very much.
Let’s start with the positive.
The first part of this movie starts out, unsurprisingly, as softcore porn. Actually, the first 2/3rds of the movie is softcore porn. There are a lot of nipples, both male and female, so hooray for equality, I guess. The word “boobland” is said within the first 5 minutes of the movie. At one point, Ana (Dakota Johnson), the main character’s bodyguard catches someone trying to kidnap her. He forgets his handcuffs, so Ana offers up her BDSM ones. After a car chase, Ana gets high off adrenaline and has uncomfortable car sex with Christian (Jamie Dornan) in a public garage. Ana gets her ass kicked while she’s 6 weeks pregnant, and when she goes to the hospital, her husband tells the doctors, “Be careful. She’s pregnant” almost immediately after they have a huge fight because he doesn’t want her to have a baby. At the end of the movie, we’re treated to a montage of all the high points of their relationship that somehow manages to be hilariously void of anything in the movie we’ve just seen. Basically, the only positive parts of this movie were the parts that were unintentionally funny. Funny, but still unintentional.
I’m going to get on my soapbox for a little bit to introduce my mixed section. While these are the parts that I like, there’s just something inherently wrong about them that made me cringe. The movie does change a lot from the book, thank god, because the books are disgustingly misogynistic. The movie tones this down significantly, and yet still somehow keeps up the creepy factor of the book. Near the beginning of the movie, Christian straight up just buys Ana a house with plans to tear it down. On the way there, Ana asks to drive Christian’s car. He tells her no. In the house, Ana has a verbal smack down with the realtor about flirting with Christian. Christian then lets Ana drive his fancy new car, showing off how ~progressive~ he is because she’s proven herself. Congratulations, Christian, you’re like two years ahead of any oppressive country. Part of me is really rooting for her throughout the movie when she stands up for herself. She calls Christian out for taking out his rage on her through punishing her through sex (despite the fact that that is Not How BDSM Works, but I digress) and tells him he’s going to be a terrible father and also asks him what the fuck he was expecting when they have that much sex with a terrible form of birth control after he throws a tantrum when he finds out she’s pregnant. Ana brings up great points in the movie that aren’t addressed in the books at all. It comes off as a much healthier relationship in comparison, but it’s still a terrible, terrible relationship. So even if part of me is rooting for her to stand up and fight, I was also going AHHHHHHHHHH RUN GIRL RUN RUN FAR AWAY most other parts of the time. The only excuse I can make for this is fighting for your relationship, and even then, it’s a flimsy excuse.
The bad. There is so very, very much for the bad. I wish I could coherently put these into thoughts that are all related to each other, but I just can’t. The actual plot of the movie doesn’t start until a third of the way through the movie. The plot is also completely useless and doesn’t move the story or develop the characters at all. You have an hour and a half long movie, where the first hour of the movie is softcore porn and getting to know the characters, and then for the last half hour there’s this shoehorned kidnapping. Much like this section, there is no cohesiveness to it. While I’m on the topic of uselessness, there’s a lot of pointless plot. I’m not surprised, considering that this used to be a fanfic, but also it sucked to have to sit through and watch. Ana and Christian have a stupid conversation about her changing her email at work because her last name has changed. Ana doesn’t want to change it, Christian does, and they get into a fight (over the phone, no less, so there’s even less action going on in these scenes than usual). At some point, it occurred to me that these actors are making more money than I’ve seen in my lifetime for these awful ten minutes of acting. Then I just got depressed.
The thing that got me the most though: Christian’s brother proposes to his girlfriend at a club. A FUCKING CLUB.
Final verdict: It was mildly entertaining at its best, a waste of money at its worst. Watch this movie with your significant other when you fight so you’ll to feel better about your relationship.
3/10, not quite so bad that it’s good.