Cinematic Releases: Fifty Shades Darker (2017) - Reviewed

First things first, I've never read any of the Fifty Shades series. However, the first film was relatively forced upon me since my significant other had read the books and enjoyed them for what they are: light fetish novels for bored soccer moms that desire a little bit of romance, fetishism and excitement.

Who could fault them? Everyone needs a small taste of something different in their lives even if it comes at the cost of one female character's integrity or morals. That's what I picked up from the first film in the Fifty Shades franchise. Anastasia Steele represents numerous sides of the sexual coin such as innocence lost, the hard to get, and the vivacious queen of unhinged libido coming into her own. Her character gives the female audience an escape route from their boring, everyday lives and offers up numerous sides of the spectrum. She satisfies urges that some may not act on.

Going into this second film with extremely low expectations, it was a pleasure to see that they went for a little more quality in delivery this time around. While the spectacle of extravagance was still a main theme of the feature, many of the problematic areas were rooted out for a much better level of character development and a stronger concentration on the background of Christian Grey. Side stepping the envelope pushing sex scenarios of Fifty Shades of Grey, the seductive moments here are too overpowered by awful theme music but ultimately seem more good natured and in the spirit of a relationship that's beginning to mature or thrive. Even at that, some of the eroticism still remains forced and a tad overdone. We have to remember one thing. This is late night Cinemax transposed to the big screen with better actors and a much higher budget. And it's actually fun.

Call me the Lone Ranger one more time and I'll take you to the red room!

It would be easy to go for the throat and cut this thing down to size. There's really no point to the movie. For the most part, this is just a bunch of scenes thrown together that show Christian and Anastasia making googly eyes at each other before they get in a dramatic fight then make love to bandage their tainted emotional wounds. But, there's still something more here. For once, it was easy to accept this for what it is. This is a fantasy world of luxurious affairs, ball gowns, and million dollar birthday parties. For an average person watching this movie unwind, it offers a real sense of escapism that exists in the real world where feelings are hurt, asses are spanked, and broken men with millions of dollars can afford any woman they want.

Admittedly, my own expectations were set at an alarmingly low expectation level. Barring the nearly two hour run time and an antagonist that plays like a textbook teenager with too much testosterone, Fifty Shades Darker is definitely the better of the two filmed releases so far. Where something was amiss before, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are comfortable in their roles now, giving them the believability factor that was missing before.

If you're a fan of this series, you'll adore this movie. If you're not a fan, suck it up because your wife is gonna make you see it anyways. Break out the riding crop and the ball gag. It's a party for everyone!