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James Foley’s Fifty Shade Freed is yet another example of a franchise that’s been around too long. When the first film was released in 2015, the audience at least was filled with anticipation about how far the adaptation would push the envelope. Would we get to see everything that writer E.L James describes so graphically play out before our very eyes? Could Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson effectively portray Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele? In the end, it didn’t matter how terrible the first movie was, fans flocked to see it and thus justified the next two films. Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed were filmed at the same time yet seemingly appeared to take two different approaches. The second movie relied less on T&A and attempted to tell the story of Grey’s warped perversions. Fans still flocked to see it, but the final product was mediocre at best. However, this left the franchise (specifically the third film) with a serious issue. Where was narrative going to go from this point?

50 Shades Freed

Yes, they were supposed to get married but doesn’t that seem like a perfect way to have ended the second movie? Let’s say director James Foley did that, now where does the third film begin? There’s only so many times someone can see the two leads naked until audiences just become numb to the whole thing. The reality is Universal Pictures had an opportunity to make a better film by combining the 2nd and 3rd books into one movie and they choose to go for the money instead. Some fans of the series might cite Harry Potter ‘s multiple adaptations so why can’t Fifty Shades? Are you going to compare source material written by J.K. Rowling with words which were crafted by a former writer of fan fiction? We need not forget these stories were initially meant to be Twilight fan fiction. All James did was make a few changes, and the rest is history.

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One can’t help but feel bad for screen-writer Nial Leonard. It would be hard for anyone to salvage usable material from this dumpster fire of a trilogy. He certainly gives it his best shot, and the result is a storyline that had me wondering if Tommy Wiseau had written it. While the marriage and sexual awakening of Mrs. Grey is a small part of it, the majority of the time we are treated to an update on the stalker (Mrs. Grey’s former boss played by Eric Johnson) who tried to kill them in the second film. Is there a connection between this deranged lunatic and Grey’s past? Perhaps the link has something to do with his family? The answer may seem a little obvious but remember this is 50 Shades Freed.

The chemistry between Doran and Johnson is the equivalent of seeing a brother and sister make out in the shower. Their performances were undoubtedly flaccid (pun intended) and lacked any believability. Danny Elfman’s score was piercing and extremely off-putting. The cinematography was nothing special either. Jason Schwartzman attempted to capture the beauty of the Grey’s surroundings by panning each new setting so the audience can take it in.

Overall, we all should feel blessed the long national nightmare which was the Fifty Shades trilogy has finally come to an end. Dornan and Johnson can fade into obscurity, and we can forget this assault on the senses even happened. The lesson Hollywood should take from this is studios should stop while they’re ahead rather than pushing forth a substandard product. However, until audiences stop buying tickets to these awful adaptations, we all will be subjected to them.

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Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.
50-shades-freedIf you are a super fan of the 50 Shades series then nothing any critic writes will persuade you to stay home. However, if you are a fan of movies that are actually entertaining and worth your time then see anything other than this release.