Fifty Shades Darker

Once again, the month of February has drawn upon us and a handful of friends sheepishly asked if I were going to see this second erotic rollout based upon best-selling author E.L. James’ trilogy collection?  Yes, I unabashedly responded.  And, no, like most book-to-film endeavors, I haven’t read any of James’ three “Shades” smut novels.  

These questions point to the fact that sex fantasy films generate a whole different theater vibe and allure for viewers than a typical movie due to their more graphic sexual and kinky content. Such soft-porn movies create the need to review both the overall storyline and the over-publicized sordid sex scenes.

Great (ben wa) balls of fire!  “Fifty Shades Darker” contains exactly one titillating (and humorous) string of events that quickly escalates from foreplay to masquerade dinner, before climaxing into mattress mayhem.  Young Seattle billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) resumes his control freak persona into Anastasia Steele’s personal and professional life. This time, however, we find Dakota Johnson’s Miss Steele character never taken aback by her former lover… a more willing accomplice to Grey’s dominance between his 1800 thread count bed sheets.

Christian Grey is the same helicopter boyfriend who never allows his possessions or women to stray far outside of his arm’s reach. Everything must be available at his disposal to provide immediate gratification and stimulation. In a subtle scene as the always working Anastasia, Dakota Johnson pays a small on-screen tribute to her true-life mother, Melanie Griffith, and 1988’s “Working Girl”.   

Unfortunately, this film’s story is not nearly as entertaining as last year’s predecessor, “Fifty Shades of Grey” -- which I gave a B+ letter grade.  Little heartache or convincing is required of Christian Grey to pursue and compel the younger Anastasia to recommence her submissive afterhours sexual prowess.  The true culprit for the movie’s less satisfying plot resides in its lack of depth given to several competing, smaller sub-stories…none of which spurns any excitement, interest, or suspense for viewers in this installment. 

While “Fifty Shades Darker” is a major drop-off from the series’ original bedroom punisher, it does faithfully accomplish its main goal of creating the potential for a thrilling finale in 2018.  Unapologetically, I will be there to review it.

(Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at  You may email him at

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