Showing posts with label fifty shades of grey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fifty shades of grey. Show all posts

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Third Time's Surprisingly The Charm for Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

Fifty Shades Freed movie review
Universal Pictures
Once upon a time author E.L. James penned a Twilight fanfiction that spiraled into a worldwide phenomenon known as the Fifty Shades trilogy. After cashing in a billion dollars at the box office over the course of three installments, the finale Fifty Shades Freed surprisingly ends on a confident note.

The Greys's love is on the line once again as Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) happily ties the knot to complicated-is-an-understatement Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). But not everything is good in kinky paradise. Surprises are in store for the newlyweds as an unplanned pregnancy uproots their attempt at a vanilla relationship, and Ana's former boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) returns to hijack their wedded bliss.

Breaking free from Sam-Taylor Johnson's impressive yet awkward Fifty Shades of Grey, and James Foley's stilted sequel Fifty Shades Darkerthe journey here is as smooth as its going to get. Writer Niall Leonard and Foley team up once again to helm the story and up the ante in the eleventh hour just enough to save two love birds who are idolized by their author and readers from being totally forgettable. Unfolding a slew of excitement at a solid pace, the action and romance surprisingly strives for 'a climax' fit for its fandom.

Leading the way in her final curtain call, Dakota Johnson gets her power back. Ana no longer tiptoes around Christian's issues as she becomes  more than pleased to challenge him for independence and her own desires at every turn. Chemistry still lingers between Johnson and her partner-in-the-red-room Jamie Dornan, but the latter is somewhat left in the dust as their characters' relationship morphs from his twisted psychosis to two hearts meeting in the middle. The couple are united in their love enough to deal with all matters kinky-sex-related or not, but it's ultimately Johnson's funny, vulnerable and bold transformation that matters most. She's finally given a fuller opportunity to grow the quirky, experimental ingenue into a strong-willed, fierce woman calling all the shots - Mrs. Grey Will See You Now if you dare.

Despite the fans holding onto being entertained for the final time, Freed's biggest flaw stems from its home studio leaving everything to the last minute. With a major lack of promotion and any industry-led interest, Universal didn't camouflage how quickly they wanted to unload the finale off of its slate.

Fifty Shades Freed doesn't have time on its side, barely hitting an hour and forty-five minutes to explore its fanfiction origins. Compared to its predecessors lingering at two hours each, the first awkwardly strayed from being a truer adaptation and the second had nothing going on except a humpathon, Freed isn't given the luxury of letting the story the build. Surely the production and costume aesthetics carried on from Darker are just as impressive here, but any standout moments are difficult to savor. Even the supporting cast making up the Greys's clan of family and friends, who were never more than appearance-makers before, are too fleeting to have a purposeful impact. Packed with action, comedy, and erotica, the script doesn't waste a single scene squeezing in as much as it can, but the film's pace is rushing towards a finishing line with nothing on its tail. One can only imagine what the cutting room floor looks like, leaving the series's true admirers to cross their fingers for an extended DVD for a fuller movie. Blink and you might miss the theatrical alternative.

Though fans forgave what critics and naysayers considered to be cinema sins, the Fifty Shades's road has been bumpy, to say the least. But let's be honest, Fifty Shades was never for the haters. The story was understood and beloved primarily by its readers and author.  From being inspired to try kinky sex with their own spouses to readers understanding abusive relationships, or just being curious about the books and starting discussions, there's still power in a story that hooked millions of women, who cherish and know what the characters mean to them. For them, it'd be silly and lazy to ignore the importance of this sensation written by a woman for women, something that is still severely lacking in Hollywood and even if the results are imperfect. The fact that its heroine goes out with a bang matters just as much.

Outside of its inner circle, Fifty Shades Freed is another one for the books and fans who will surely enjoy themselves. Foley manages to squeeze what's left of the original material for its worth with a script aiming to tie up all the loose ends. Even if it's comforting that third time's the charm, it's a shame the trilogy didn't have this kind of gusto from beginning to end. For even the most casual fan of its actors like myself, there's no denying the trilogy had a shaky start and middle, but for the ending, Freed finally manages to get it right.

for readers: ★★★
for me:★★☆
for everyone else:☆☆☆

Monday, December 4, 2017

Fifty Shades Freed (2017) Trailer Reaction

Fifty Shades Freed Trailer Reaction
Photo Credit: Fifty Shades Darker / Universal Pictures 
So the last trailer for the Fifty Shades series has finally been revealed. If you've been following me for a while, you might know I harbor a complex love / hate relationship with this trilogy. I'm not ashamed to admit (okay, maybe a tiny bit): I'm excited for this. For the past three years, I've gone to the theaters cringing my way through the movies, letting the novels take me back to college when I didn't know I'd fall down this rabbit hole. It's only fitting, in the occasional tradition of fangirling, to do a trailer reaction.

Based on the books by E.L. James, virgin bookworm Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) doesn't run away from possessive billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) the second she realizes he is the mayor of Crazy Town. No, they fall in love and fix each other all in the name of vanilla sex. So let's begin! This trailer is NSFW. "Spoilers" below.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fifty Shades Darker (2017) Remains Impotent

Photo Credit: Fifty Shades Darker / Universal Pictures
As the sequel to the controversial erotically-charged series, Fifty Shades Darker was touted to be more suspenseful, sexy, and alluring than its dry prequel Fifty Shades of Grey. With major changes made from the first movie like finding a new director with James Foley, and writer (also the author's husband) Niall Leonard, this installment had expectations to be exponentially thrilling. Though its previous flick created a nice foundation for the rest of the installments to build upon, this sequel struggles even more to find a plot, maybe even a pulse.

Fifty Shades of Grey concluded with the literal door closing in Christian's (Jamie Dornan) face along with his aspirations of making Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) his full-time submissive. She leaves of her own free will (yay!!) to bigger and better things ahead until Darker brings them back together after the tiniest of separations. But a dosage of obstacles start challenging their relationship as Ana tries to establish new demands from 'the boyfriend' and her boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) becomes creepy and possessive over her as his assistant. Meanwhile ghosts from Christian's past like an ex-sub Leila (Bella Heathcote) and ex-dominant (Kim Basinger) simply can't let him go.

Author E.L. James and passionate readers would say the star-crossed lovers are focused on building a future together so nothing deters their love. Others will recognize that every conflict threatening to drive them apart are solved through limitless wealth and sterile sex. If a young woman establishing her wants both in and out of the bedroom could be argued as the overall arc, it increasingly exists out of mere convenience. Every time Ana doesn't want to be bought, Christian counters with sex, money, a charity ball, moving in, marriage, to steal her attention away. Even if Mr. Red Flags changes his nature over time, i.e. the dominant becomes the submissive, Ana's non-sexual wants (a job, independence, transparency) are often muted by Christian's privilege. What may be a tantalizing fantasy for readers on the page becomes an absolute hindrance on-screen as any issue the lovebirds encounter are frustratingly handled off-screen via Grey's limitless power.

So the sequel ends up relying on what it's most known for (sex) to make up for a dubious romance.

However, it merely follows in the same footsteps of the first movie of inserting sex to divert interesting conflicts between the leads and becomes even more sterile in its intimacy. Especially since Johnson still displays more than she should in an even stronger male-gaze aesthetic. Where the first movie could make the hook-ups at least tolerable, Foley lacks the judgment to properly set any tangible mood for the sex scenes, even the most vanilla kind.

If there is something to be had for Darker, it's all the best elements of the first movie - the cast and high expectations of production design, costume, and soundtrack, carry over well. As far as performances go, Johnson carries the film by still making us believe that Ana is genuinely invested in giving Christian more chances to change and open up to her. Her maturity on the type of woman she wants to be evolves, even if the script holds her hostage to Christian's whims. And because of that, unfortunately, the alluring nature of her co-star wears a crucial element of her story thin. Though Dornan is quite personable and charming when he doesn't have to deal with Grey's dark, twisted history, any commanding presence the character could have falls flat when Dornan's afforded scenes to dig deeper. As much as the story could intend exploring Ana's wants and needs in life, Christian the dominant becoming the submissive to her must be thoroughly read between the lines.

Established from the get-go by director Sam-Taylor Johnson, Fifty Shades's world remains visually elegant and sleek. Even with writing, production, and costume team alterations, her influence continues with the sequel's opulent, minimalist sets and luxurious wardrobes. Even the soundtrack, which initially kicked off with Beyonce, The Weekend and Ellie Goulding, is matched this time around with 'not being in love equates dying a thousand deaths' ballads by Sia, Taylor Swift with Zayn Malik, John Legend and Halsey. With the exception of a new avenue for the story to wander, Foley serving as the new director imprint is nearly impotent.

Unlike most adaptations where the book rarely lives up to the movie or transforms non-readers into fans, Fifty Shades Darker falls right in line for whom the film is made: E.L. James, her devoted readers, and perhaps curious hound-dogs. For all intents purposes, the sequel is posh enough to gawk at. But if you're looking for anything more than sex, which critics clamoured for and still didn't get, the story leaves everyone and everything pretty much impotent.

for readers: ★★★
for me:★☆☆
for everyone else:☆☆☆

I liked this though.

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...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) Lacks That Something Special

Fifty Shades of Grey Movie Review
Photo Credit: Fifty Shades of Grey / Universal Pictures
One of the most negatively panned and yet most talked-about series ever should have nowhere to go up but up when it's adapted to the big screen. Of course, pun implied, we're talking about Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James, the literary, erotic, and controversial phenomenon. And yet for all the anticipation both by legions of devoted  haters and fans, the highly anticipated adaptation manages to coast between the lines to lack that something special the books achieved.

BDSM billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) recruits a young virginal graduate Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) into "his red room of pain", aka a sexual contract where she becomes his submissive. He has rules. If she follows them, he'll reward her. If she fails them, he'll punish her. A chance encounter sparks a torrid relationship between the two, one that leaves Ana questioning if she wants a relationship where pain is a part of the package and forces Christian to confront his emotional limitations.

Despite its reputation as an erotica and a relationship that's supposed to jump off of the page, the movie doesn't offer much in terms of an actual story. Ana meets Christian and is propositioned to be his submissive, but for reasons that are continuously glossed over (probably to save for the sequel), we just don't understand why they're attracted to each other. If the movie is trying to explore a young woman discovering her sexuality, Ana's struggle to decide whether or not to sign the contract comes in last to pushing and failing to break Christian out of his shell. And to be honest, as Grey, there's not much there in terms of actual brooding you'd want to know more about. In-between the awkwardly male-gaze sex romps, you just can't help but realize that in place of what could be an interesting romantic drama, the characters just go at it all the time because they can.

While there is no grand love story in the first film, it's admirable that this is not a straight-up porno. Though it has its fair share of inserting a sex scene just because there's a lot of them in the books, the erotica is still surprisingly tame. (Johnson physically bares so much more than Dornan, it makes one think: wasn't this supposed to be for female audiences?). Even if it's all there in terms of going at it like rabbits, the film is nowhere near the taboo adult world people can find and already enjoy online or the real world. So critics might imply that the sex was too safe, but a lack of gratuity set a refreshing pace for the never-ending honeymoon-mode lifestyle.

What ultimately saves the movie is how it translates the books, especially for the haters who ripped it apart for grammar and narrative issues. The movie aptly removes the ridiculous first person perspective of Steele invalidating herself with inner goddesses and forty sub-consciousnesses to elevate her as much as possible. And because the film relies on the headlining stars to make the story shine, credit for making Ana someone worthy to watch goes to Johnson who brings a smoky humor, sass, and confidence to a role that you didn't know had that capability to shine. And for Christian, though Dornan wasn't everyone's first pick, he manages to make Grey charismatic enough to wonder if there's more to him than meets the eye. Together, especially since Dornan was cast at the last minute, make a decent pair for what they have to work with.

No matter the creepy logistics that Grey continually shows up wherever Steele is, and every important conversation of getting to know each other is unevenly shelved for awkward sex scenes, director Sam Taylor-Johnson does her best with what she wanted to achieve. She manages to bring  tangible aspects of the books to life through the cinematography, costume, production design, soundtrack, actors, etc. while a smarter tongue-in-cheek script can be found underneath a story that jumps all over the place.  If you are a fan of the books, Taylor-Johnson makes it possible to want to watch the movie over and over, and I dare say, she gave the film more consideration than many probably would've. And her foundation is surely something the sequels will miss out on if she isn't there to helm Darker and Freed.

More than anything else Fifty Shades of Grey aims to please fans and author. Surely, hardcore fans will be satisfied with the results and the studios who scored on curious moviegoers. Everyone wins except for those who fall outside of those two circles. But to rise above its hostile criticism already, the film doesn't or can't strive to raise a bigger discussion about Ana and Christian's relationship. It skimps along the surface of its inspiration because if it delved too deeply into James's world, it could be one huge joke (an even bigger one to those who hate the series). What remains is a well-intended production trying as best as possible to get out of the grasp of the inner circle of the author and the mind-boggling success of her story.

For book fans: ★★
For me: ★¾☆
For everyone else: ☆☆☆
Have you seen Fifty Shades of Grey? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fifty Shades of Confused

50 Shades of Grey Movie Essay
Excluding a few excerpts, I had no idea what the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon was in 2011. Anastasia Steele is swept off her feet by a control freak and "BDSM" millionaire Christian Grey. It sounded like nothing special. Yet the series pulled in sales by the hundreds of millions, attracted genuine readers, usually moms, and curious folk. Parodies and celebrity readings popped up all over while quotes haunted aspiring writers. Criticism of E.L. James was less than favorable, and for the adult world of literature, the buzz for her series was as big as the magical obsession we all had towards J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.

What would a series where the author and editors copied and replaced the names Bella and Edward from Twilight into a literary sensation have anything to do with me?

Three years later when the first movie teaser was released mid-2014, a little inkling of curiosity sprung out of nowhere. My excuse, was: HUH. I like the trailer. *fifty views later* Okay, I really like the trailer. Maybe in February I'd want to see the movie. Well, if I see the movie, I have to read the books. OMG, FIND ME THE BOOKS. THE MOVIE IS COMING OUT. I NEED IT NOW.

If you follow me online, and put up with my incessant reblogs, you are well-aware of my current obsession with Fifty Shades of Grey. But, call me Fifty Shades of Confused. I still don't know how I became obsessed with this series (mostly, the movie).