Photo: Universal Studios
By Darlene Donloe
You know a movie is in trouble when a mature audience made up of all-media professionals - laughs throughout the movie, during scenes that are supposed to be hot, heavy, slow, deliberate, sexy and provocative. The laughter was so incessant in Fifty Shades Darker - that I thought for a moment that the movie was actually supposed to be a comedy. By the way, there are some comedic moments, but the film is not, I repeat not, a comedy.
So, here we are again with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), the brooding billionaire with a weird proclivity for sex, trying to woo the damsel named Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).
When we left Christian and Anastasia in author E. L. James’ original film, Fifty Shades Of Grey, Anastasia had left Christian because he was getting off on the pain he was inflicting. This time we open with Grey doing everything he can to win her back. He promises there will be no secrets. This time he will be open and honest and they will no longer have the master-slave relationship.
Things seem to be going Christian’s way until a mysterious woman shows up and threatens Anastasia. Who is the woman? Who is she to Christian? What does she want? Why has she come back? All are good questions. However, the reasons are still a bit murky.
Then there is another woman played by Kim Basinger, who was previously in Christian’s life, but is now jus a mysterious entity.
And then there is Anastasia’s new boss. What a creep! The story is already set up to have him make an appearance in Three Shades Darker (at least that’s what I’m calling it).
In this latest sexcapade, Christian is still a dominant figure.
We do manage to find out more about him, though. We find out he was abused as a child, which actually explains a lot. He has several cigarette burns on his chest. We find out his mother was a crack addict who died when he was still very young. His adoptive mother is played by Marcia Gay Harden, who is always spectacular.
I don’t mean to be picky, but there was one scene – well, there was more than one scene, but for the sake of this review, I’m going to talk about this one scene. Without giving it away, someone goes missing, but shows up safe and sound without any explanation. It makes absolutely no sense. It’s hilarious!
The problem with Fifty Shades Darker, directed by James Foley, is that it's simply not sexy. Christian and Anastasia are not a sexy couple. They are just two people who have raw, kinky sex. And, maybe that’s all it needs. Maybe that’s just what the fans want! Jamie Dornan is a nice enough looking man. Dakota Johnson is a cute woman. But there is something missing – and, to be fair, I just don’t know what it is.
Fifty Shades Darker is Rated R: for sex and bared female breasts. Running time: 1h 58m.
Fifty Shades Darker is directed by James Foley, written by Niall Leonard and stars Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford and Bella Heathcote.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no) N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Fifty Shades Darker get an N-L (Needs work - likeable).