Sunday, May 7, 2017
Video review: "Fifty Shades Darker"
Occasionally people ask me why I don’t write more terrible reviews of movies.
(I’m assuming they’re being kind and asking why I don’t call more movies terrible, rather than describing the quality of the reviews I pen.)
The truth is that I genuinely feel Hollywood doesn’t make too many truly awful films. And I like to think of myself as a generous critic with wide-ranging tastes. I can usually find at least one or two things to like about even flicks I hate.
Everything is pretested and post-tested to death with audiences these days, so if the studios know they have a real honker on their hands, they’ll shelve it or push it straight to video. For tiny budget stinkers, they’ll simply refuse to show it to critics. So those tend to come and go pretty quickly at theaters without anyone seeing them, or me writing about them.
“Fifty Shades Darker” falls into the rare category of a high-profile movie that’s truly rotten. It’s a sequel to a big hit about a young woman who falls in for a man who’s into BDSM – cuffs, whips and such – and was based on a very popular trashy trio of novels read almost exclusively by women.
What it says about modern feminism that so many females are attracted to stories about dominant men who like to bruise the flesh of his lovers, I know not.
I actually didn’t think the first movie was half bad, but the follow-up is utterly groan-worthy. It’s not even the sort of bad that you can laugh at and mock; you just want it the pain to cease.
Dakota Johnson returns Anastasia Steele, and Jamie Dornan is back as Christian Grey, in a pair of characters battling for the title of Most Fake-Sounding Fictional Name. He’s a billionaire who likes to beat on ladies, and she’s a wallflower slowly discovering her taste for the kinky stuff.
The plot – screenplay by Niall Leonard, based on the book by E.L. James – concocts several nonsensical twists to fill up time in between the bedroom romps, which are much tamer than you’d think. These include Christian momentarily thought to be lost in a helicopter crash, and an old flame of his (Kim Basinger) showing up to turn the screws on his relationship with Ana.
“Darker,” like its predecessor, made a boatload of money, though a significantly smaller boat. I’d like to think it’s because audiences are wising up. But there’s still one more book in the “Fifty Shades” saga to adapt, so I don’t think the torture is going to stop anytime soon.
Watching this movie is like being a reluctant participant in a frisky whipping, and you’ve forgotten the safe word.
The film is being released on video with an Unrated version that promises to amp up the naughty stuff. Bonus features include deleted scenes and several making-of featurettes: “Writing Darker,” “A Darker Direction,” “Dark Reunion,” “New Threats,” “The Masquerade” and “Intimate with Darker.”
Sounds dark, huh?