Fifty Shades Darker Review: Left wanting more

Written by Maurice Collum.

For those who haven’t seen Fifty Shades of Grey (really??), it tells the story of billionaire Christian Grey who struggles with relationships and commitment, until seemingly plain Anastasia Steele (Ana) appears in his life.  What follows is the ongoing struggle to forge a relationship, due to Ana’s innocence conflicting with Christian’s perverse lifestyle and attitude towards women. The attraction is established from the off, and the two venture into a relationship of sexual exploration until Ana’s curiosity causes Christian to push her to the edge, resulting in them separating in a seemingly abrupt end.

Fifty Shades Darker directly follows the events of its predecessor with Christian relentlessly pursuing Ana until she agrees to rebuild their relationship on a common set of agreed rules. All seems to be going well until Christian’s past starts to creep up on him. This introduces both the movie’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s no secret that Christian’s mysterious past is the source of intrigue, but you may be disappointed when the movie spends more time teasing you with exciting revelations and shady characters, only to gloss over them when they are finally presented. This results in a recurring sense of an anti-climax.

The main focus of the movie is the developing relationship between the two protagonists and I’m happy to say this is still interesting thanks to the strong writing and performances. It’s easy to be enveloped into each of their conversations which keeps you invested in the plot, right to the very end. My only criticism is that Ana’s constant tug of war between wanting Christian and running away can get tiresome. This may have worked in the book (although I haven’t read it personally), but in a movie, it seems all too repetitive.

The supporting cast is strong with the inclusion of Kim Basinger as the crux of Christian’s past. Her role is well acted but again suffers due to her limited screen time. This begs the question as to why you would need a powerful actress in such a limited role.

Sexual content is more plentiful this time around but is less shocking than its predecessor.  Although sexual scenes are relatively short, the fact there are more of them only serves to detract from the story, and could have easily been reduced in favour of developing a more cohesive plot.

As with many book adaptations, pacing can be an issue. On one hand, I felt Fifty Shades Darker didn’t outstay its welcome with the two-hour run time, but on the other, it tries to introduce too many factors and plot points than it can contain in such a limited period of time. Having not read any of the books, I can’t speak for this directly, but I am aware from those who have read them, of missing or underdeveloped elements. The movie could have easily been another 30-40 minutes longer and no one would have complained.

While not a bad movie, it is at least on par with its predecessor and I enjoyed it as much. It once again makes you yearn for something more, but I feel the final chapter (Fifty Shades Freed) may have too much to conclude and may struggle in a similar fashion. Hopefully, the supporting cast and plot can become more defining in the conclusion. Overall, Fifty Shades Darker could have been improved by spending more time on expanding its best-selling story, and less time in the bedroom.

Pros

  • Interesting plot
  • Strong protagonists
  • Leaves you wanting more

Cons

  • Pacing can be an issue
  • Forgetful supporting cast
  • Little impact after long plot development

6/10

Written by Maurice Collum.

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