Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are married now, but all is not matrimonial bliss as Jack Hyde is back for revenge.
So we are back for one last go around, one last Fifty Shades film, Fifty Shades Freed. It’s 105 minutes of a movie that’s main attraction is the steamy sexy bits that take up probably less that 10 minutes of run time thus leaving audiences with an amateurish action plot.
You heard me right an action plot, well that part of the film takes up about the last 20 minutes of the film, the rest of the absolutely nothing story reveals the fan-fiction origins of E.L. James inept attempts at titillation. The film feels episodic; you have a honeymoon episode, a weekend getaway episode, an engagement party episode, an almost kidnapping episode and an actual kidnapping episode. Each one of these episodes is tied up during the course of a single conversation that goes a little like this: “I don’t like what you are doing”, “Okay I will stop”, “Okay, lets have sex”. This is all done with the tact and the grace of a drunk elephant doing ballet. It breaks so many golden story rules, namely show don’t tell. While there is so much happening on screen, it is presented so flatly that it feels like nothing is happening at all.
Now, I can watch films about nothing but what helps me through those is a set of characters that are relatable and likeable. Dakota Johnson still looks as though she is wrestling her incredibly awkward dialogue into the shape of Anastasia Steele. She does seem to combat those early criticisms levelled at the Fifty Shades franchise by becoming more assertive and active in the story but make no mistake, Christian Grey is still the real protagonist of the story, in that he learns the lesson and the antagonist is really after him. Ana is just the audience perspective character, like the Watson to Christian’s Sherlock Holmes. Does that mean Jamie Dornan makes an effort in this film? No, he checked out halfway through film one and is just riding it out until he can call the series quits.
Recently there has been a narrative of reclaiming the Fifty Shades franchise as a solely female franchise, asserting that it is comparable to the sort of schlock like Transformers and Fast and Furious that men watch for purely dumb entertainment. It is certainly true that it is the same kind of common denominator base entertainment that you could ask of a moving picture, but it does not negate the criticisms that you could level at the film’s plot, its structure, the awkward dialogue, the flat characters and the sleep-inducing cinematography. If you want a female-centric film franchise, surely you would want better out of it. I personally am not satisfied by the endless light shows that constitute male based action films and I want better out of my entertainment, I think most people should too.
There is one last point that I would like to make though: only the first film in the series was directed and written by women. Sam Taylor-Johnson directed while Kelly Marcel wrote Fifty Shades of Grey and it is probably the only really passable one. Darker and Freed are directed by James Foley and written by Niall Leonard, E.L. Jame’s husband. James Foley beat out Rebecca Thoma and Tanya Wexler for the director’s chair. I am not sure where I was going with this point I just wanted to raise it.
The one good thing that you can say about Fifty Shades Freed is that it finishes the franchise and we never again have to watch another one of these poorly written trash fires. While I will miss ripping the film apart due to its absolutely terrible writing and atrocious characters and questionable representation of a BDSM relationship, I won’t miss anything else.
You can watch Fifty Shades Freed in cinemas now