The second instalment of the ‘Fifty Shades’ franchise hits cinemas this weekend, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
But those hoping ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ will be the perfect film to watch with their other halves will be disappointed to learn it has been almost universally panned by critics.
But it’s not all bad news for the film and its stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, as prequel ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ didn’t exactly have rave reviews either, but still went on to be a huge commercial success.
Here’s a round up of what the critics are saying this time around...
“The awkward middle course charted by new director James Foley (’Glengarry Glen Ross’, ‘House of Cards’) and his cast is unsatisfying in terms of head, heart and, well, elsewhere. It’s an alleged 18-rated, adults-only filth-fest that behaves like a flustered PG.”
“Given how Ms. James and Ms. Taylor-Johnson are said to have clashed over the making of the first movie, it is easy to guess who the dominant player was in ‘Fifty Shades Darker’, and it probably wasn’t the new director, James Foley. He’s a professional with real credits, so I assume that he’s not finally responsible for the ineptitude of ‘Fifty Shades Darker’, which ranges from continuity issues to unsurprisingly risible writing. There are also abrupt swings in tone, dead-end detours and flatline performances, including from Ms. Johnson.”
“If you want to watch a movie about a billionaire playboy with a penchant for darkness, inflicting violence and dressing up in masks, you’re far better off seeing ‘The Lego Batman Movie’.”
“They’ve gone and done it again, with a mid-February release for a sequel that far from being 50 shades darker than the original, is even more pale and at times downright limp.
“It tries to present itself as a sweet romance, with supplementary nipple clamps. But what’s the point of making a film about sado-masochism if nobody is prepared to whip it into shape?”
“You won’t believe just how dumb the dialogue is in ‘Fifty Shades Darker’, and, yes, that’s even if you’ve seen the first one. Still, Johnson makes it work. With anyone else in the lead, these films would be condemned and sent to Guantanamo. Instead, we’ve got the greatest Valentine’s Day movie in years.
“The sequel works because its creators didn’t set out to make camp; they were simply true to the source material, with few airs about making great art.”
“Taylor-Johnson’s genius was to handle such batty trash with pace and class. This time round, there’s neither.
“The sex comes suddenly, like someone else’s drinks – all blow-out, no build-up. Christian is so accomplished he can bring Anastasia to the brink of orgasm fully clad in a crowded lift which isn’t going far and whose muzak is Van Morrison. ‘Deep down inside me,’ explains Anastasia in the book after this sort of thing, ‘sweet joy unfurls like a morning glory in the early dawn.’ On film, we just get a grin and a gasp.”
“’Darker’? James Foley’s ‘Fifty Shades Darker’, the second big-screen outing adapting E.L. James’s best-selling S&M fairy tale, goes rather in the other direction, replacing most of the first installment’s talk of master/servant dynamics and contractually delineated sex play with more lovey-dovey hoohah than most self-respecting rom-coms are willing to deliver.”
“’I thought it was going to be worse!’ I heard a man say after last night’s premiere. Talk about low standards. The second film adapted from EL James’s BDSM trilogy feels like something farted out of the backside of the eighties.
“No one ever made a feature-length version of the TV show ‘Dynasty’. But that’s what this supposedly modern piece of erotica amounts to.”
Digital Spy **
“’Fifty Shades Darker’, the sequel to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, promised us that the franchise which began as ‘Twilight’ fanfic would be ‘sexier’, more thrilling and take us to new levels of mild arousal. But sadly the worst thing about it is that it’s kind of boring. Better, funnier and more self-aware than ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, it’s not awful – this is an affectionate two-star review - but honestly, it really could have done with a bit more naughty shagging.”
Rolling Stone (half star)
“As for the sex, it’s utterly joyless. Yes, the bodies of Johnson and Dornan are – wait for it – beautiful. But the only conviction the two stars bring to their roles comes in their mutual awkwardness and eye-rolls that suggest going down on each other is an endurance test they can’t wait to be over. (Will Arnett and Rosario Dawson generate more erotic heat in ‘The Lego Batman Movie’. And they’re made of plastic.)... This softcore swill is hardcore awful.
“Note to masochists: This team with return to film James’ third book, ‘Fifty Shades Freed’. You have your work cut out for you. “