Thursday Night Movie Club
Fifty Shades Darker
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Release Date: 10 February 2017

Director: James Foley
Dakota Johnson
Jamie Dornan
Eric Johnson
Eloise Mumford
Bella Heathcote
Rita Ora
Luke Grimes
Victor Rasuk
Max Martini
Bruce Altman
Kim Basinger
Marcia Gay Harden
Andrew Airlie
Robinne Lee
Amy Price-Francis
Anastasia Steele
Christian Grey
Jack Hyde
Kate Kavanagh
Mia Grey
Elliot Grey
Jerry Roach
Elena Lincoln
Grace Trevelyan Grey
Carrick Grey
Ros Bailey
Fifty Shades Darker movie poster Fifty Shades Darker movie poster Fifty Shades Darker movie poster
Jamie Dornan stars in Fifty Shades DarkerSomething has gone terribly wrong. Either the novel's author or the screen writers need to look up the word "Darker" in the dictionary. Fifty Shades Darker is not darker than the original "Fifty Shades of Gray". Whereas the original was an interesting character study, the second film in the trilogy is a disappointment.

Darker means a touch of sexual harassment in the work place, a former slave of Christian Grey is stalking Anastasia because she has trouble moving on with her life, and an over-bearing ex-lover who has trouble moving on with her life. The sex scenes in the film are no where near erotic.

In one film, the series is looking old and tired. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have almost no chemistry. Their performances come off as disinterested. They go through the motions valiantly trying to breathe life into their characters.

The main problem here is the screen play by Niall Leonard based on the novel by E.L. James. The story is dull. The conflicts are not very dark or sinister. The resolutions to the conflicts are simplified. Conflict arises. Resolution is reached in the snap of a finger.

Jamie Dornan stars in Fifty Shades DarkerFifty Shades Darker begins with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Gray (Jamie Dornan) meeting over coffee. They agree that if they are going to rekindle their relationship, there can be no rules, no slave contract, and no lies. These were the three elements that made "Fifty Shades of Gray" dark. How does the screenwriter and director plan on making this film darker?

Leila (Bella Heathcote) has become so entrenched in her role as slave to Christian Gray that she cannot handle the breakup of the relationship when her contract expires. She descends into madness, psychotic breaks and drug abuse. Leila begins stalking Anastasia Steele hoping to convince Anastasia to abandon her relationship with Grey. He is not good for Anastasia.

Bella Heathcote stars in Fifty Shades DarkerIn a desperate attempt to get Anastasia to listen to her pleas, Leila confronts Anastasia in her apartment, armed with a hand gun. Anastasia is in grave danger. Enter our hero Christian Gray. He snaps his fingers, points at his feet, and Leila immediately drops the gun and becomes Christian Gray's slave. Gray must be really good at control.

Anastasia has started her new job at a small publishing firm in Seattle, WA. Her boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) comes on to Anastasia wanting her for himself. He commits the no-no of sexual harassment. Enter our hero Christian Gray. He comforts Anastasia, calls up the owner of the publishing company, and Jack Hyde is promptly fired.

Kim Basinger star in Fifty Shades DarkerAnastasia finally meets the woman who was Christian's mentor and Mistress, Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger). Anastasia confronts Elena who is determined to undermine Ana's happiness with Christian. After a heated discussion, Ana throws her drink in Elena's face. Mrs. Gray (Marcia Gay Harden) promptly comes to Ana's defence. Elena leaves.

The tag line for Fifty Shades Darker is: Every fantasy has a darker side. Does any of the above descriptions of the basic story resemble anything remotely close to darker?

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson star in Fifty Shades DarkerThe signature scene of Fifty Shades Darker is a masquerade ball for charity. Christian has the opportunity to really show off Anastasia to the hoi-piloi. Christian buys her an extremely chic and sexy evening gown. Anastasia looks fantastic in the dress but she doesn't quite reach the level of head-turning envy or jealousy. All things considered, Ana looks about the same as every other hot-looking dame in the room.

Overall, none of the performers in Fifty Shades Darker appears to be acting. This does not mean their acting comes effortlessly, there isn't much substance to the film that requires acting. The end result is everyone is going through the motions.

Director James Foley does nothing to qualify as actual directing. He does nothing special with his camera techniques, cinematography or editing. Visually Foley brings nothing to the endeavor. Not even the pop rock sound track is memorable.

Fifty Shades Darker isn't darker. It is also a disappointment.

Next up: "Fifty Shades Freed". This film will probably go straight to video and be used as a tax loss. Maybe they will change the name to "Fifty Shades Free" where the movie-going public can get all three films in the series for free!