The Fifty Shades Darker reviews are in – and they don’t bode well for the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel. The movie, based on E.L. James’ erotic novel, was finally released after months of teasers and trailers. It stars Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, both of them reprising their roles from the first movie in the series. But while fans were hoping for a better cinematic experience this time around, it seems most of the critics hate Fifty Shades Darker even more than they did Fifty Shades of Grey.
The first movie, released back in 2015, was a box office hit. With a budget of $80 million, it made $571 million around the world. But the critics disliked it, and its current average score on Metacritic (a website that collects certified movie reviews from the the web) stands at 46 (out of 100).
The Fifty Shades Darker review average on Metacritic is, as of this writing, even worse – and stands at 36 (out of 100). While some of the reviews around the world are yet to be published, the average was calculated from 30 different reviews – a hefty number by all means.
Looking at another website that collects reviews, Rotten Tomatoes, Fifty Shades Darker’s score is even worse, with an eight percent “TomatoMeter” score (which means only eight percent of critics have given this movie a positive review), and an average rating of 3.4 (out of 10). This average is based on an even larger number of reviews – 73 as of this writing.
Taking an in-depth look at some of the reviews, it seems the movie’s biggest sin is that, as a title based on an erotic novel – it’s just not sexy enough. Peter Travers of The Rolling Stone writes in his Fifty Shades Darker review that the film, which he dubs “incredibly idiotic,” has “utterly joyless” sex.
“Yes, the bodies of Johnson and Dornan are – wait for it – beautiful. But the only conviction the two stars bring to their roles comes in their mutual awkwardness and eye-rolls that suggest going down on each other is an endurance test they can’t wait to be over.”
Fifty Shades Darker saw some major changes behind the scenes, as well. Fifty Shades of Grey’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, was replaced this time by James Foley, reportedly over “creative differences.” Kelly Marcel, who wrote the script for the same film, was replaced this time by Niall Leonard, who is the husband of the book series author, E.L. James. Are the bad reviews a result of these changes?
“The film the new team has come up with is noticeably less alive than the last one,” writes Kenneth Turan as part of his Fifty Shades Darker review on the Los Angeles Times.
“Johnson and Dornan do their best, but the spark they had in the first film is largely gone. All the sexual ecstasy she has to counterfeit seems to have sapped Johnson’s energy, and the pumped-up Dornan’s most effective scene is not a dramatic one but a solo gymnastics move on a vintage leather pommel horse.”
The only critic who seemed to like Fifty Shades Darker – or at least some aspects of it – is Guy Lodge, writing for Variety. Despite citing “structural and psychological deficiencies,” Lodge says it’s hard not to enjoy Fifty Shades Darker.
“If anything,” he writes in his Fifty Shades Darker review, “The film is most seductive outside of either the bedroom or the Red Room, when it succumbs to the sheer lifestyle of overly art-directed Venetian parties and platinum Monique Lhuillier gowns.”
And while we don’t really care for these people or their future, according to Lodge, we find ourselves rooting for their union – simply because they’re “so da** hot,” with Dakota Johnson maintaining a “responsive and curious” screen presence, and Jamie Dornan putting his many hours in the gym to good use.
It remains to be seen whether the unfavorable Fifty Shades Darker reviews will have an effect on the box-office results of this much-anticipated sequel. Whatever the case, the third film in the series, Fifty Shades Freed is already underway and is set to be released on February 9, 2018.
[Featured Image by Universal Pictures]