Saturday, September 24, 2016

50 Shades Darker Trailer Reaction

Photo Credit: Fifty Shades Darker / Universal Pictures
If anyone warned me almost two years ago my complete disinterest in the 50 Shades series would ever take flight, I wouldn't have believed it all. The 50 Shades Darker has been released. Since it was actually the series' first trailer that started me down this confusing road, it's only fitting we prepare for the next installment with great hesitation and excitement. Sooo, here is my trailer reaction...

50 Shades of Grey leaves this "whirlwind romance" with Ana literally closing the door on Christian to escape the beginning of their cray-cray relationship. Taking off like Wile E. Coyote and abandoning his issues into the dust would've made for a great singular movie, but like all warped fairytales where the girl stays in love with psycho "prince charming" for reasons, she stays and wants to fix Christian in the hopes that he will learn to love her in return. That said 50 Shades Darker should really be called 50 Shady Sociopaths:

That's totally romantic....o_O
  1. Ana because she thinks she can change a guy who has issues
  2. Christian who clearly has issues
  3. his ex-submissive comes back to ruin his life
  4. Ana's photographer friend Jose has a crush on her/won't take no for an answer despite her clear lack of interest in him
  5. Ana's boss is also obsessed with her and Christian
  6. "Mrs. Robinson" (PLAYED BY KIM BASINGER) tries to derail Christian and Ana's relationship
Fifty Shades Darker centers on Ana and Christian struggling to be together - in love, no rules, all hearts and flowers - the kind of vanilla relationship Christian has never had, only to have it blown up in their face (aka the literal fireworks) by crazy people. As genuine fans have broken down the trailer in detail, I was honestly impressed by how much I remembered of my reading experience and scenes I hope will be adapted or ones that will make me cringe/laugh out loud.

The first thing that stood out to me was that the sequel seems more relaxed. Sam Taylor-Johnson's direction for the first film wasn't bad, but her work and intentions with the movie were definitely stifled from the quarrels she and author E.L. James had. A new director (James Foley) helming the sequel isn't a bad move, but I question how the film will be interrupted. Since the film is supposed to explore a woman's sexuality, having a male's perspective, especially for the sex scenes, hopefully won't make it too gratuitous or male-gazey. From Foley's past work I've liked Glengarry Glenn Ross and Confidence. And to his credit, he directed Fear and Perfect Stranger which centers on abusive men stalking young women. Since Anastasia is fighting off four crazies at once, this may be up his alley.

Visually, I'm surprised the masquerade doesn't look like a Dollar General's bargain bin of Mardi Gras supplies. It veers close to an Eyes Wide Shut aesthetic and you definitely get the sense of just how loaded Grey and his extended family are. It's obvious that Universal Pictures spared no expense to make the production as opulent as the first movie. Even the rest of the sets and locations follow it's predecessor's style so it may not feel jarring that two different people have directed the franchise.

Dakota looks amazing as always. She was able to make Anastasia sassy and funny (even if she wasn't the brightest bulb in the pack and the script failed her with logic and reasoning). I hope we don't lose what she brought to the role, especially since Ana sticks up for herself. (In the trailer we see Ana is backed into a corner by her boss and then she runs ~*desperately*~ into Christian's awaiting arms. In the book she actually knows self-defense and lays Jack out. I hope she isn't made out to be the helpless virgin-damsel again.)

I want to give Jamie credit for the first movie, but his acting doesn't seem to be getting stronger in post 50 Shades projects. His acting is coming across more wooden than Pinocchio...but he seems a little less apprehensive here. I hope he just does something else with the role 'cause it's not working....

Oooh, maybe he can actually get naked. That would be make him better. The only thing hinting at sex is a shower scene. The brief peek here only irritated and reminded me how much Dakota suffered from the male gaze in the first movie. She's more than capable of flashing her body every five minutes, and Jamie needs to give his fair share. He’ll play a psycho-killer sexualizing violence against women in The Fall but he’ll only go shirtless once in a major "erotica" movie. Way to have double standards, dude. I guess you can say I am a proponent for nude equality?
Speaking of the masquerade scene, why does Jamie look like he can't hear/see anything with that mask? It's calling back some serious Michael Keaton's Batman nostalgia.

While parts of the production give me hope (the costume design is still on-point), the soundtrack needs help fast. If 99% of the adult human race hated the first film, most agreed the soundtrack was kick-ass. It featured Annie Lennox, The Weekend, Ellie Goulding, Beyonce. For the sequel, we're not starting off on the right foot here with Miguel's cover of Beyonce's Crazy In Love. It's not too bad playing throughout the trailer, but those last five seconds.... are just creepy. *crossing my fingers*
Similar to Taylor-Johnson's direction, James had trouble collaborating with the screenwriter Kelly Marcel. This time around she sent in her husband Niall Leonard to write the script. So many loopy subplots are thrown into the book just to derail Christian and Ana's relationship, the movie is going to have a lot of organizing to do. If the movie actually has a plot in terms of all of the people who come to destroy their love, maybe a replacement can transform something better out of the book.

Honestly, if I had to sum up the sequel: KIM BASINGER IS BACK. SHE IS BACK. WE'RE GETTING KIM BASINGER BACK. I'M HERE FOR THIS. And Dakota. And Kim Basinger.

That's my rundown of the trailer. It was surprisingly good, and I won't necessarily mind seeing the sequel in theaters (I already read the books and saw the first one, so why not?!)

50 Shades Darker will officially hit theaters on February 13th, 2017. You'll know where I'll be.

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