Movie Review: 50 Shades Darker

The sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” although heavily advertised, was a disappointment to say the least. Granted, I have never read the books and only watched the first movie with a very sarcastic and condescending frame of mind (a bit like how I watched this one), but “Fifty Shades Darker,” based on the novel of the same name by E.L. James, was still a let down of epic proportions. I begrudgingly doled out the cash to watch the movie on its premiere, Valentine’s Day weekend release date, and regretted it almost instantly.

The time hop doesn’t make sense and is never really explained. We went from Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) dramatically rejecting Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) at the end of the first movie to suddenly having this gorgeous apartment and new hipster job at a publishing house. She, very predictably, takes Grey back in the early stages of the film and the wild sex ensues. While there is some drama in the appearance of Mr. Grey’s stalker as well as the reappearance of his original dominant, the primary storyline is and always has been the exploration of Steele and Grey’s risky sexual relationship. He tries to win her heart with money and ballgowns while she starts to break down his walls, changing him from a Byronic hero to a “real, relatable” man.

Generally, as far as plot goes, everything that happens in the movie is outlandish and ridiculous. There were continuity issues as well as very rapid changes in tone. Character growth seemed sudden and many of the obstacles thrown at Grey and Steele’s relationship seemed forced. The drama and plot twists were included as just brief reprieves from the endless sex and served no real purpose besides that. Any of the major action that happened was resolved within the next few minutes. An unhinged stalker with a gun was handled swiftly by Grey simply telling her to kneel. A tragic helicopter crash and a missing billionaire didn’t even add any interest to the movie because he reappears at the door seemingly just a few hours after the accident. Even Anastasia’s sexually aggressive boss at the publishing firm doesn’t pan out to be a real problem.

The lines are words that no real human being would say. Dakota Johnson is as awkward in delivering them as she was in the first movie. I was curious to see how her and Dornan would get along in their on-screen relationship after hearing all the rumors about their issues on the set of the first movie. I distinctly recall hearing, from multiple sources, that Dornan didn’t want to continue the franchise. Apparently neither did “Fifty Shades of Grey” director Sam Taylor-Johnson, which led to James Foley taking the reins for the sequel. He made a much more haphazard film. Dornan, however, seemed to overcome some of his original issues with the movie or the people creating it as he presented a much more nuanced, slightly less brooding and intimidating character than last time. There was slightly less dramatic, stalkerish staring than previously seen.

Scoring a whopping 9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, it is very easy for me to advise you not to waste money on this movie and just wait until it’s online or on TV. E.L. James’ storylines of sex and BDSM with some brief glimpses of ordinary daily life might just barely work as a novel but it really still isn’t working in the film industry.


Julia Mancini is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.mancini@uconn.edu.