COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES

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March 1, 2017

Fifty Shades Darker Deserves a Little More Punishment

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When I went to see the first Fifty Shades movie (I’ll admit I went alone; not many people in the theater at 10 am on a Tuesday) I was expecting a kinky two-hour experience of escapism from my otherwise unspectacular life. I was sorely disappointed.

My name is Nick Smith and I’m extremely vanilla in almost every aspect of my life. I eat the same things couple things every day, I go to church on Sundays, I even color code the clothes in my closet.

Unbelievably, the first movie bored me. What I thought could have been one of the more intriguing films of the year (though not the best) lulled me to sleep. That was not a joke: I went to 50 Shades of Grey by myself on a Tuesday morning and fell asleep in my seat. I can only imagine how that must’ve looked to the lone middle-aged couple in the theater.

Unfortunately, though, I didn’t fall asleep this time, Fifty Shades Darker suffers from the same issue that plagued the first film: it fails to hit the right stride between pornography and plot. I simply didn’t enjoy it. This film jerks the audience back and forth from forced plot development to dissatisfying pornographic scene with little regard for continuity or legitimate character development.

Without its whole freaky sex thing, this absurdly successful franchise is nothing more than a particularly terrible love story. I left the theater bewildered as to how the female lead, Anastasia Steele (played by Dakota Johnson, who, to be fair, does a decent job), could still be drawn to a man who admittedly gets off on inflicting pain on his women. Just move on!

Additionally, one of the main conflicts in the film is Anastasia wrestling with some of the previous women in Christian Grey’s life (Christian Grey being the franchise’s titular love interest played by Jamie Dornan). Though I suppose Eloise Mumford’s returning Kate character works decently, Bella Heathcote’s Leila did not. Her entire character arc did nothing to further capture my interest.

It’s never a good sign when I walk out of a movie and the most positive thing I can say about it is that it had a high production budget. The film itself, though riddled with problems, is quite glamorous. The camera work is beautiful, the sets and clothing are put together well and the soundtrack is actually awesome (I Don’t Wanna Live Forever oozes sex appeal).

Despite every one of my earlier complaints, my biggest gripe is this: after a couple days of letting this movie dance around in my head, I still can’t quite tell you who it was made for.

It’s definitely not for kids. Though I found what this movie showed us soft, anyone under 15 should be barred from the theater.

It’s not for the conservative and faint of heart (I’m talking about the elderly here). This film’s idea of romance is an insult to the word “romance” itself.

It’s not for men either really. The sex is a yawn and the music in this film isn’t going to cut it. Not only that, but both of the leading men, Christian and Jack Hyde (a newcomer potential love interest), are monsters. I’ve already discussed Christian (who I doubt is very religious), and Jack goes from charming suitor to aggressive sexual harasser in a matter of minutes.

I’d assume if I told someone in the street I couldn’t decide what demographic Fifty Shades Darker was made for, they’d scoff at me. Clearly, this film is made for 18 to 24-year-old women.

But is it?

50 Shades Darker is anything but empowering. Anastasia finds herself under the thumb of two men, one who tries to rape her and the other who needs to beat her. Unable to escape the feelings she acquired Christian in the first film, Anastasia continually folds on resolution after resolution, only finally standing up for herself to a small degree near the end of the movie.

I haven’t read these books. I don’t plan to. That said, the only way I can see this franchise turning itself around is if the final installment actually delivers a somewhat girl-positive message. Based merely on the 2018 flick’s title, Fifty Shades Freed, this seems likely, perhaps suggesting either Christian will exorcise his demons once and for all or that Anastasia will finally walk out for good, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Nick Smith is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at nks53@cornell.edu

14 thoughts on “Fifty Shades Darker Deserves a Little More Punishment

  1. You shouldn’t try to be a movie reviewer you obviously don’t have any idea of what is sexy. In addition you obviously did not try to understand the main characters.

    • Tara, I’ve known Nick since the womb and I can assure you the man not only knows sexy, but is intrinsically fused with the idea itself. There are no flavors sexier than vanilla.

      Furthermore, Nick spent months researching the main characters; painstakingly probing their every move and breath to unveil their values and purpose.

      Nick is no movie reviewer, he is a critically acclaimed critic. Do not undermine his scholarship and stature with such belittling titles as “movie reviewer”. The man is a cinematic surgeon, dissecting each film with microscopic detail.

    • What is sexy but a sequence of stale letters compressing a fleeting, fluttering, fanciful feeling into a set of alphanumeric symbols? I find it absolutely abhorrent, and quite frankly disgusting, that you would ever even try to attempt to claim your definition of sexy is above that of others. Who are you to tell Nick that he does not have any idea of what sexy is? Were you the one one that brought sexy back? I don’t think so less sexy tara, I do not think so. To do so is worse than carefully calculating and defining the word beautiful, or perhaps the word Mamihlapinatapai. To you a soft smile, to me a nipple clamp and a finger in my butt. To both a mirage. Yet, here you stand, claiming that you, the less sexy tara, are the judge and jury in defining the mysteries of our universe. HOW DARE YOU. I hope that one day you understand the error in your ways, that one day all of your so called “absolute truths” have been challenged, and that one day you step on a lego so big you wake up crying I KNOW NOT WHAT SEXY IS. I KNOW NOT!

  2. Nick,

    You brilliantly move from relevant, powerful examples to engaging commentary, leaving me delightfully satisfied. Contrary to the absolutely cringeworthy embarrassment of a comment that Tara posted above, I think you should try to be a reviewer. You inspired me to go see the movie for myself and watch with a critical lens. Make no mistake, Tara, this review is a must read, and an example that other writers should follow.

  3. Tara,

    Nicks article creates a new standard for movie reviews. Nick brilliantly moves from relevant, powerful examples to engaging commentary, leaving you delightfully satisfied and excited to implement this knowledge in your own life. He makes the review both casual and incredibly informative. Make no mistake, this is a must read, and an example that other writers should follow. I would strongly recommend Nicks review to anybody who’s looking to live a more fulfilling life.”

  4. Tara,

    Nicks article creates a new standard for movie reviews. Nick brilliantly moves from relevant, powerful examples to engaging commentary, leaving you delightfully satisfied and excited to implement this knowledge in your own life. He makes the review both casual and incredibly informative. Make no mistake, this is a must read, and an example that other writers should follow. I would strongly recommend Nicks review to anybody who’s looking to live a more fulfilling life.”

  5. Took a quick stroll with the mindset that I may not be interested in this review, but within the first few paragraphs I was mind blown, this was honestly a wonderful read from an obviously extremely intellectual young man, a great step by step or even guide to view the way you’ve seen the world in your young life. Also having provided tidbits into history mixed in with the current culture of your lifestyle and those of all ages surrounding yours, just an overall outstanding read. Tara. Fuck you.

  6. Yes, it is an ok review; however, there is one fatal flaw….he didn’t read the books. By not reading the books, I am not sure how someone can claim he studied the characters for months.

    All the movies are made, quite simply, for the fans of the book. There is no age bracket, most of the fans are women. Mind you, I am not saying it is for all women, bur it is for women.

    The problem is, it is pretty much impossible to include everything that is in the books in a two hour movie; thus, a lot is left out. Leila, Jack, Kate, Elliott, Mia, Mrs. Jones, Taylor, and Elana are barely in it (unlike the book). His pyschiatrist, and Anna’s bodyguard aren’t in it at all. Their first meeting after the break-up isn’t even the same. By looking at the cast for freed, it is also easy to see that a key relationship in the book isn’t even in the movie at all.

    A lot of people say that books are always better then the movie. In this case, by reading the books one might understand why people are interested in seeing it “come to life”…whether the movie succeeds in that aspect is a totally different story.

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