Pretty much taking up where its predecessor, Fifty Shades of Grey left off, Anastasia Steele is desperately trying to drown out her withdrawal from ex-boyfriend Christian Grey. Their fairy tale romance coming to an abrupt halt after a brutal beating in his notorious Red Room.
Miss Steele, not so much the innocent college girl anymore, now moonlights as a publishing assistant. Supposedly her dream job but seemingly more of a desperate attempt to forget the man who not only deflowered her but also introduced her to the illicit, kinky world of BDSM.
Mr.Grey, ever the obsessive-compulsive dominant, however, cannot get over young Ana and spares no expense in his attempt to win her back. In true doormat fashion, it doesn’t take very long for Ana to succumb to his charms and the pair now find themselves embarking on a more serious, rather lack luster, “vanilla” relationship.
As we all know, in the movies there is always trouble in paradise and Fifty Shades Darker is no exception. Christian’s dark past starts coming to light when we are introduced to Elena Lincoln aka Mrs Robinson (a collagen infused Kim Basinger), the older woman and his adoptive mom’s good friend who initially lead him into temptation as a young boy.
The supporting character Leila Williams, Christian’s painfully pathetic, psychotic ex-submissive, probably had more substance in the literary sense than on the silver screen. Disappointingly, as the film’s other antagonist she is not only poorly portrayed by Bella Heathcote but also horribly adapted in this installment.
Throw in Eric Johnson’s character, Jack Hyde (Ana’s douche bag boss for about a hot minute) and you have the makings of a cheesy, lukewarm flick which feels more like a filler than a follow-up.
The film seems almost intentionally littered with an array of sexual interludes between its lead actors, who appear to be having more fun with their characters this time around.
Unfortunately it lacks one important ingredient – heat. Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, try as they may, simply do not convey or possess the ravenous attraction required to set viewers’ pulses racing. This puts a damper on any aspirations held by fans of the series.
Thanks to some clever scripting, Dornan surprises as he delivers on a couple of noteworthy comedic lines from what is overall, a bland somewhat forced story line. I have yet to read any of these provocative romance novels in E.L James’s best-selling trilogy, but I do get the impression that the book may prove to be far more satiating.
Director James Foley brings forth a noticeably more polished second installment, racking up 118 Mins of screen time.
My overall impression on leaving the movie house (husband in tow) was simply that my itch has now been scratched. That said, I was still found wanting and could not help but wonder whether we should have waited for the DVD release. Definitely one to see if you are a fan. If not, give it a miss as you may find yourself snoring in your seat.