FIFTY SHADES DARKER (1 out of 10) Directed by James Foley; "Written" by Niall Leonard, based on the T̶w̶i̶l̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶f̶a̶n̶ ̶f̶i̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ "novel" by E.L. James; Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson; Rated R for "strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language;" Running time 118 min; In wide release February 10, 2017.
This movie is critic-proof. If you're reading this, you've already decided whether or not to see this latest installment in the Fifty Shades franchise in which abuse masquerades as kink and women are literal objects to billionaire Christian Grey.
If this is what turns you on, I'm sorry for you. This film is neither sexy nor kinky. The only "danger" and thrills it provides are setting the clock back 80 years in terms of sexual politics.
I bet Donald Trump likes this movie.
"Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."
Because Christian Grey does grab Anastasia Steele by the pussy. Repeatedly and without her direct consent. In public.
And let's be very clear. Christian Grey is not a misunderstood fetishist. There is no shame in any flavor of kink-- I hope that two consenting adults can have as much sex as they like in all they ways that they like. Emphasis on consent.
Dozens of times throughout the film, Grey engages in the worst forms of manipulation and abusive behaviors. If you read a listicle of "50 ways to spot an abusive creep," this film would check off most of them. If your girlfriend was dating a Christian Grey, alarm bells should be ringing and you should be doing everything you can to get her away from him.
As Christian explains, he's not a fetishist at all, but a self-described "sadist" who gains sexual pleasure from beating and abusing women who look like his dead mother. (Ewwwwwwwww!) Oh, but Anastasia is so sad to hear about Christian losing his mother, it makes it all ok-- even when he repeatedly violates her boundaries. When he presents her with a gift of a new MacBook and iPhone, "no strings attached," he leans in and kisses her even though they're not in a relationship. (PS-- that's not "no strings attached;" it's just not as overtly manipulative as making someone sign a sex contract. Douche.)
Christian Grey is not just the (gross, flawed) fantasy of a bored, misguided housewife, he's also the patron saint of every fedora-clad redditor who ever pronounced, "m'lady" and calls others "cuck" and "beta." Christian Grey gets rewarded with everything he wants in this film because he treats Anastasia like dirt, like an object, even over her protestations. Sex and a relationship are not about gratifying or nurturing your partner, it's about sublimating his primal needs on whatever pretty face he's currently manipulating into letting him.
This is not sexy. It is not fun. It is boring. It is beyond hackneyed and cliched.
And yet millions of people will go see it. People, presumably, who don't know there is free porn on the internet. Or who don't know that both John Wick Chapter 2 and The Lego Batman Movie are actually really good movies with much better love stories at their heart.
If you enjoy this garbage, I guess you deserve it.
1 out of 10