Following the events of Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) has left Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) because of his twisted desires. But upon reconciliation, the pair try to start out fresh; meaning no rules, no contract, no crazy sex abuse. Just a pure vanilla relationship. Just when things begin to be going well, people from Christian’s past threaten to tear them apart.
Let me start by saying I hated the first film. I thought it was a pure garbage film with no purpose or real story. The sequel is a major improvement over the last film. It’s not a trashy sex film with no substance. This movie plays out much better as a film and story. We actually see a struggle between our two leads not only from the outside forces, but just general relationship aspects. The struggles come from Christian’s fears of becoming close, and Ana’s struggles of trying get Christian to open up. Surprisingly it does a good job of presenting all of this. When the outside forces come into play it adds a lot more intensity to the story. Of course with it being Fifty Shades, there are sex scenes. And compared to the first film with sex scenes that are complete garbage, the sex scenes in this one feel real in the sense that hot and steamy without being ridiculous. Some of Christian’s “toys” come into play, but again, they work more in a kinky sense and not twisted abuse. While Shades Darker may be an improvement over the last film, it’s still far from being considered a GOOD movie. There is a lot of this movie that is super cringeworthy that makes even the most real romantic movies gag. So much of the romantic scene are laughably ridiculous, and even down to the dialogue is just terrible and tries to be cute, which will only work for the most easily swooned. It’s sad that if this wasn’t part of an overall crappy trilogy and the if the script was stronger, this actually could be considered a good film.
In terms of acting, Dakota Johnson turns in a really good performance. She was decent in the first film, but she has so much more to work with in terms of her character in this film that she can really break out. While she and Jamie Dornan have better chemistry this time around, it’s Dornan that once again proves that he may have the looks and some charm, but he is a very one-note and wooden actor. The always talented Marcia Gay Harden provides really the best performance in the movie and offers the more heartfelt and even humorous moments as Christian’s mom. Eric Johnson is the new addition to the trilogy as Ana’s obsessive boss and really delivers in the creepy role. And speaking of creepy roles, Bella Heathcote plays Christian’s previous submissive, whom has since had a mental breakdown and becomes obsessed with Christian and wants Ana out of the picture. Bella totally gets screwed over with her role, she does an amazing job with what she has, and when she finally gets a chance to do something, it’s over very quickly. Then we have Kim Basinger, who turns in a performance more wooden than her clearly plastic surgery screaming face.
Fifty Shades Darker is an improvement over the last film in different respects, but it still suffers from pretty poor writing and dialogue, and another effortless performance from Dornan.