When the Fifty Shades trilogy topped bestseller lists worldwide, it was only going to be a matter of time before it hit the big screen. A series of erotic novels written by E.L. James, Fifty Shades tells the story of Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele (Dakota Johnson) who captures the attention of handsome, wealthy Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Ana dreams of romance but Christian is emotionally unavailable. Not only that, he has deviant sexual tendencies and wants to show Ana the ropes.
At the end of the first film, Ana decided Christian’s penchant for whips and spanking was too much for her and she sent him packing. Fifty Shades Darker picks up where we left off with an obsessive and controlling Christian refusing to let Ana go. He promises to change and she submits.
However, it’s not long before Christian is back to his old ways, spending his millions trying to ‘own’ Ana every which way he can – buying the portraits of her at an art exhibition, the publishing company where she works and then her physically, at an auction.
As promised, the sequel is a shade darker, with the introduction of Ana’s sinister new boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) who is intent on whipping up trouble, the unhinged Leila (Bella Heathcote), Christian’s jealous ex-lover who is stalking Ana, and manipulative Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger) the woman who introduced Christian to BDSM. Ana is tied up in knots at the return of Elena, who makes it her priority to get under Ana’s skin when she learns she is Christian’s girlfriend.
The sequel also has a new director, James Foley, who directed music videos for Madonna in the eighties, and a new scriptwriter, Niall Leonard, who coincidentally is E.L. James’ husband.
It’s hard not to gag at the cheesy one-liners, despite Johnson and Dornan doing their best to deliver them convincingly. I struggled to care whether Ana and Christian would stay together or break up again and despite the added intrigue of the new characters, the biggest mystery is why Ana is so in love with Christian, who is moody, possessive and selfish.
Die-hard fans of the book are bound to enjoy watching it play out on the big screen and with more action in Darker it’s a slight improvement on the tedious first film and just saves it from becoming fifty shades duller.
Fifty Shades Darker is unmasked in theatres on 9 February 2017.