Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fifty Shades Darker review

Yes I went to see this. Yes, I am reconsidering my life choices now. Yes, I did write the most deliberately explicit review I could. Spank the jump (see what I did there) to hear my thoughts...

Seriously. What the fuck.

The books fucking suck.

The story fucking sucks.

The movie fucking sucked.

But now there's a second one....

What do you want me to tell you people? Huh? You want me to tell you that a whole universal chain of fucking sucking will be displaced by the adaptation of the second novel in a fucking sucking trilogy of books about fucking and sucking?

No. I will not be telling you that today. As many of you will have assumed, 'Fifty Shades Darker' fucking sucks.

It's also hilarious.

John Wick, is that you?
After a lot of tame bondage sex (many of you will remember the first iteration in this series being an 18-rated sex-themed film without any real nudity or realistic sex at all), we last left our hero (haha) Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) having left billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) due to how fucked up he was ('I'm not fifty sades of grey, I'm fifty shades of fucked up!'). But whadayaknowit, this dynamic duo are once again about to embark on a 2hr journey of passionless, tame sex - free of any penises or vaginas whatsoever - but with lots of glimpses of whips in glass cases. And get ready for a whole host of hilarious side-plots involving abuse, suicide, stalking, rape, and murder! Nothing says Valentine's Day more than abuse, suicide, stalking, rape, and murder!

Walking into her art friend's show (yeah, who the fuck actually has an art friend?), Anastasia is surprised to find that the walls of the studio are filled with nothing but pictures of her face (of course). And, by coincidence, just after she arrives someone buys them all! Who could that be, I wonder...

Look, OK, it's no secret that E.L. James writes with the skill of a mentally challenged amoeba left out in the sun for three days, but this is beyond awful - and it's only 5 minutes in!

I never knew sexual assault could be so funny...
It's at this point I already give up - for I have to admit that, in all honesty, there's no plot to 'Fifty Shades Darker'. At its heart, there is, perhaps a central narrative about Anastasia and Christian trying to cope with their differing sexual preference (not that Anastasia puts up much of a fight, mind you) - but the real dramatic tension comes from the seemingly random red-herring plots that fade in and out at random. One, featuring a suicidal past girlfriend, involves a murder attempt on Anastasia - which is solved by Christian pretending to use the force (seriously, like fucking Star Wars) on the assailant, and then patting her head. Or what about the one in which Christian Grey is involved in a remote plane crash, only to emerge 2 minutes later through the door of his apartment? Or what about the one where Christians mum is a crack addict and we get some sepia-toned abuse foorage? Sounds like fun, no?

But you didn't come for the story, did you? No. You came for the 2 hours of constant fucking. I'm sad to say, unfortunately, that even this doesn't hold up as, just like the first movie, 'Fifty Shades Darker' is vanilla as fuck... Be prepared to watch 2 hours of constant sex without a single nude shot of a penis or a vagina. Or be prepared to watch a BDSM-themed film whose final kinky twist involves the shocking device of massage oil (seriously, could you not think of something more kinky than FUCKING OIL?)... Fingering in lifts? Yawn. Ben-Wu balls? Yawn. Countless shots of devious implements in glass cabinets which never get removed from glass cabinets? Yawn. It's a fucking wonder that this crap managed to receive an 18 rating without anything explicit whatsoever. Shortly after, I watched Paul Verhoeven's 'Elle' which made this look like goddamn 'Toy Story'. It's casually provocative content for the offend-able blockbuster crowd. It may not be completely vanilla, but it's certainly not strawberry - at most it's a raspberry ripple made by a stingy old ice-cream man who refuses to add enough coulis (and whom probably fantasizes about nipple clamps).

Makes a masked ball look like a children's party...
All jokes aside, you'll see better acting in a free porno where the storyline consists of some babysitter forgetting money for the pizza guy, and having to provide, erm 'alternative payment'. Dakota Johnston plays the stereotypical ditzy girlfriend - whose only real triumph in the whole movie consists of the moment where she orders quinoa salad instead of steak at a restaurant - how inspirational. It doesn't help that the script is so. fucking. awful: the line 'I was just getting all romantic then you interrupt me with your kinky fuckery' should never be uttered, ever, by anyone - so props to Fanning for playing it straight. But, at the same time, she comes off as superficial, annoying, and needy. Jamie Dornan, similarly, puts on the facial expression of a gormless twat for the entire affair, and acts like he has the intelligence of a concust goldfish. It's a strangely goofy and completely confusing act that resembles having a jigsaw piece that doesn't fit the last space in the picture.

And the music, bleugh, don't even get me started there. Oh, I don't mean the actual tracks - they're just bland, shitty, chart hits from the last year. No, I mean the sound design. Because the editors of 'Fifty Shades Darker' have evidently envisioned the films sex scenes as big musical numbers. In all of them, Christian thrusts directly to the beat of the chosen background tune; and in one particularly cringey sequence, the soundtrack builds up and pauses for a second whilst Christian prepares to thrust, resuming at full volume when Anastasia screams in pleasure? Pain? Who knows... Moans and gasps are added in post to heighten the experience to something akin to a shitty 80s porno; and song choice is deliberately unsubtle - when the two leads break up, 'I don't wanna live forever (without you)' plays. And, as some commentators have indeed noticed, the sountrack lacks any of the sexy edge that the first film boasted (sultry offerings from Abel Tesfaye and the likes at least gave atmosphere). This time around, we have Kygo, Taylor Swift, and any number of talentless, low-brow, pieces of shit bellowing sexless pop out of the Dolby Atmos... It's as if the soundtrack is trying to emulate the less-dark tone of this follow-up: the destructive and harmful nature of the relationship in 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is replaced with a standard 'oh, he's changed!' plot which is worryingly close to the Joker/Harley Quinn relationship - except, this time, it's being endorsed!

A very, erm, nuanced discussion of mental health issues...
It looks like 'Gone Girl', if 'Gone Girl' was shot by Michael Bay, after Michael Bay had bought a RED Camera, shitty consumer drone, and been hit so hard over the head that he lost 50 IQ points (yes I know, that would render him with no IQ points, but bear with me). That is to say, it's very, very boring. There's one sequence - shot by a drone over a tall ship, in which the cliched 'he holds her had and she steers' thing happens, but aside from that it's all calculated rigid cam - not even a steadicam shot in sight. The staging seems to be parodic: Grey's mansion and sex dungeon look like stereotypical Broadway sets, and a 'masked ball' looks like a fucking children's party.

There's waaaay too much shower sex in this movie...
Dismissing all of these concerns as immaterial, the film is - of course - fucking hilarious. Anastasia uses the phrase 'kinky fuckery'. Anastasia is sexually assaulted by her boss, then runs outside to find Christian Grey who swears he will 'kill him' - she responds 'no, it's fine'. Anastasia gets the job of her dreams by walking into an office and suggesting taking on more independent writers because of online hype; the editor responds 'But online hype doesn't necesarily translate to sales'; she responds 'but what if it did?'; she gets the job. Anastasia uses the phrase 'I am the captain now'. Is she fucking 5 years old? Or is she a Somali pirate? Anastasia uses lipstick to draw on Christians boundaries whilst he moans. Christian literally flips Anastasia over for anal sex using a spreading bar and it looks like a finishing move out of Mortal Kombat. Christian whispers 'don't cum' into Anastasia's ear in a lift. Christian appears to die before coming back a minute later. Christian treats a woman like a literal dog. Christian uses the force on a woman to take her gun. A woman gets slapped, has a cocktail thrown over her, gets slapped again, then gets thrown out of a party in a single sequence. Rita Ora, the talent-less singer, is an actress in this fucking film! Half the characters have so much goddamn plastic surgery they look like Frankenstein's monsters! Sepia-toned 'abuse footage' is hilariously cheesy and in slow-motion! It's raining when it's sad! Christian Grey has a 'Chronicles of Riddick' poster! The texting appears onscreen like something out of the retro-futuristic 'Alien', and has perfect punctuation! Christian uses his penis to facilitate a bass drop! Christian and Anastasia never eat! They only drink and order the cheque, always! The list doesn't stop.

'Don't cum'
Not only that, but on a more serious note I think this is all entirely inappropriate. A film like 'Fifty Shades Darker' can't delve into the territory of rape, abuse, and suicide because it doesn't deserve to. It can't play serious, because E.L. James wrote the source in the mindset of a 40 year old with a 3 year old's brain; as a sheltered, mildly stupid, and utterly, completely naive mid-life crisis suffering suburban housewife. And that's the only place in which it deserves to thrive - as inane, dumb wish fulfillment fantasy. As I sat in the cinema, laughing at the way in which the movie handled the sexual assault of Anastasia, along with 50 others, I fully realised that I shouldn't actually be laughing at this kind of thing. If you cant do it, don't do it. But 'Fifty Shades Darker' can't do it, but tries anyway: and miserably fails.

At the end of the day, this movie really fucking sucked - there's no two ways about it. Sure, you can sit through over 2 hours of mindless, boring, vanilla sex; dubious side-plots; messily executed lofty themes; shit acting; cringey dialogue; and cringey messages - and maybe you'll laugh - but you'll be crying inside. Alternatively, you could take your date, and see the least arousing movie since the 'Chronicles of Riddick' poster Christian Grey keeps in his room.  Part of me wants to say bring on the third to see how this ends; another part of me thinks that E.L. James should be stripped of all wealth and made to live alone, in a house made of recycled pages of her awful works, for the rest of time. And, yes, I clapped at the end. Nobody joined me.
'Fifty Shades Darker' gets 1 star!

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