Studio: Universal Studios (2 hr.)
Plot: A couple dives into a series of misadventures when they reignite their relationship.
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Kim Basinger, Marcia Gay Harden, Ashleigh LaThrop
Bottom Line: ***
By Khaleel Herbert
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan continue to create sparks as Anastasia and Christian in “Fifty Shades Darker.”
“Fifty Shades Darker” begins with Christian, a wealthy businessman, and Ana, an assistant to an editor at a publishing company, meeting at a restaurant. He wants to get back together with her, saying there are no rules or conditions. She hesitates, but she can’t resist him.
After their romantic alone-time, Ana starts running into Christian’s ex-girlfriends. One is Leila (Bella Heathcote). Christian dumped her after they dated awhile and she moved away. She got married, but her husband died in a car accident. Leila appears outside Ana’s office, looking desperate fora tan and shower with her grotesquely pale skin and homeless appearance.
The second woman on the list is Elena (Kim Basinger). Ana meets her at Christian’s masquerade ball. She says Christian will tire of Ana and move on to another woman. She advises her to end the relationship now. While Ana deals with Christian’s previous women, Christian confronts losing his mother to cocaine addiction as a young child and his other psychological issues.
I find it odd that Christian is commanding. He controls all the women he knows like they’re his pets. And the kicker is they obey him, without even thinking about it! He even goes as far as keeping Ana from going to New York with her boss, Jack (Eric Johnson). Ana does obey him in certain instances, but most of the time she doesn’t, which bothers Christian (and is funny to watch).
“Fifty Shades Darker” is an amped-up love story. With the explicitly intimate scenes, it still has a story. If you think about it, “Fifty Shades” is really a rendition of “Beauty and the Beast.” Christian hides his dark side in his wealth and pursuance of beautiful women. But when Ana steps in, she tames him and makes him a better person. He can’t live without her and she can’t live without him.
There are suspense scenes that should have been expanded. The film could have been 20 minutes shorter, but was still good. Like the Marvel movies, stick around during the credits because there’s a big surprise.
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Printed in the February 19, 2017 - March 4, 2017 edition