Friday, February 10, 2017

Lightweight ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Doesn’t Even Begin to Take You There

Dakota Johnson as Ana Steele and Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in “Fifty Shades Darker." Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures.


the verge of frustration, I finally ask the young man sitting next to me why everybody is laughing. I see nor hear anything funny.

"Because it's ridiculous," he says.

Sometimes though, the audience is laughing and nothing ridiculous appears to be transpiring. For instance, in one scene Christian is doing chin ups. Perfectly reasonable if one is as fit as he. I can only deduce that many of those laughing do not regularly workout with weights and do not understand that what Christian is doing is entirely possible. In fact, it is quite impressive.

We are watching "Fifty Shades Darker," the film based on E.L. James' second novel in the "Fifty Shades" trilogy of erotic romances. "Fifty Shades Darker" opens nationwide today.

I have not read any of the novels nor did I see the first film, "Fifty Shades of Grey," or read any reviews associated with it. I am, however, aware that the "Fifty Shades" series can take significant credit for the current obsession with doms, subs and the BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission) inherent in such sexual, sadomasochistic activity.

It was my intention to come to this sequel with a clear mind and only one preconceived notion: that I would see gratuitous kinky sex galore. Enough to so disgust me that I would walk out before the film concluded.

I am still here and would be until the final credits roll. The audience members with whom I am screening "Fifty Shades Darker" are reacting as if Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) are a couple whose antics are so familiar as to be predictable. After a fashion, they are.

I am not tickled. Merely, I think this film is nonsense and much ado about nothing. Further, the most disturbing element is watching a totally wasted Kim Basinger, a fine actress not looking quite herself, if you get my meaning.

Incidentally, those interested in a much superior film along the lines of “Fifty Shades” should rent KB and
Mickey Rourke’s "9½ Weeks."

Oh, the premise of “Fifty Shades Darker”: Essentially, Christian went too far and Ana walked away (in "Fifty Shades of Grey"). In not atypical fashion for a man who has not yet tired of a woman who has left him, he woos her, promising to behave better. In not atypical fashion for a woman, she takes him back and his behavior does improve, especially when he is reminded to so.

Christian also saves Ana from both her predecessor (Bella Heathcote), a pathetic piece of baggage and her boss (Eric Johnson), a pathetic piece of baggage.

He further imagines himself in love, which one imagines is possible for a man who admittedly despises women and who has not undergone intense psychiatric intervention to deal with it. She accepts his proposal and they marry, a scene that does not try to disguise in the least that “Fifty Shades Freed” is in the queue. It’s coming next year.

Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) get back together in “Fifty Shades Darker.”

That's “Fifty Shades Darker” in a nutshell. Take out the rather pedestrian sex scenes and you have a rather pedestrian boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl-back story – at least until the next film.

Not precisely 50 shades darker.

Visit to learn more about “Fifty Shades Darker”; the film is rated R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, and language.

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