’50 Shades Darker’ Review: The Franchise Finally Becomes “So Bad, It’s Good’

Director James Foley Brings Out The Campy Magic Of ’50 Shades’

With sleaze expert James Foley at the helm, ‘50 Shades Darker‘ is the first time the franchise embraces the insanity of itself. By no means am I saying this is quality cinema. There’s is far more flaws than any praise but for me, it hits the “so bad, it’s good” level.

The story picks up right where the first film left off. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is starting a new job at a publishing house, while she deals with her breakup from sadist billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The meek Anastasia left Christian after finding out how deep his need for BDSM goes and his overall detached personality.

It seems silly to even have them break up if they’d be getting back together within five minutes. That’s actually a major problem with most of the movie; it doesn’t give room for any tension. I’m not saying the material written is inspiring but allowing for these things like a break-up, attempted rape, or helicopter crash to sink would make for a better experience. Everything felt rushed over to get to the next scene, and when you got to the next scene…nothing happened!

I’d be happier if they were rushing each scene to get to another sex scene but it mostly led to more melodrama. Hell, I think there might be only about five sex scenes in the entire film. Most of which only last a minute or so. I guess coming from a film background where I’ve seen ‘A Serbian Film‘ and ‘Nymphomaniac‘, everything would feel tame in comparison. This is sadly the only department I felt the film held back on.

“Laters Baby”
– Anastasia To Christian (An Actual Line One Adult Says To Another)

While the movie still feels like the material of a self-edited novel, it shines with such a campy director. James Foley has directed films like ‘Fear‘, ‘At Close Range‘, and ‘Perfect Stranger‘ so he “gets” the insanity. While it was sad to see female director Sam Taylor-Johnson get booted, Foley feels like a better fit. With his past work, the sleazy factor is apparent…something he brings to this here. Foley basically took what could a be Lifetime Channel movie and gave it a cinematic flair. Everything feels more refined and polished, meaning that it’s taken very seriously. I think that seriousness adds to how funny this is.

The only truly unredeemable thing about the film is Dakota Johnson and the Anastasia Steele character. This is nothing against the actress personally but I can’t take her in this role. She’s not believable in any aspect of this role. Speaking of the role, Anastasia Steele is one of the weakest female characters since Bella in ‘Twilight‘. She’s the most bland stereotypical romance novel lead and it harms any chances of a good dynamic. For her to be this timid and awkward girl who beats herself up, any time she tries to be sassy…it’s a joke. If she was written better, the creepiness of Christian Grey would be better combated.

To me, I can see that there’s something good within the trashy source material. Presented in this film adaptation, any of the good moments do shine. I love the fact that a crazy girl from Christian’s past shows up. It was amazing to see her be in the background of so many shots; it felt like a horror movie as we watched her stalk them. If ‘50 Shades Darker’ had better focus, it could have made for a great erotic thriller plot. But it is another one of the plot points that is rushed over like I mentioned earlier.

Final Thoughts:

For as much this movie gets made fun of, I had a blast watching it. There’s just some “bad movies” that can be entertaining and ‘50 Shades Darker‘ is one of them.

The audience I saw it went wild for EVERYTHING. This totally has a cult following and people do passionately love it so I can’t knock it for that. It’s the perfect movie to bring your friends with and have a blast at the movies. It’s not award winning unless we are taking Razzies but there’s no shame in making a fun “bad” movie to enjoy.

Synopsis: While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her.

Genre: Romance? Erotic Thriller?
Country: USA
Directed By: James Foley
Starring: Dakota JohnsonJamie Dornan, and Marcia Gay Harden

EJ Moreno
EJ Morenohttp://Vimeo.com/EJMoreno
Who is EJ Moreno? Is he a trained physician? No. Is he a former Miss Universe contestant? Possibly. With a bachelors degree in film and a love of pop culture, he brings an alternative view to the world of pop culture journalism. Follow him on Twitter @EJKhryst and check out his film work at Vimeo.com/ejmoreno