Fifty Shades Darker (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Lacking enough chemistry, heat, or narrative friction to satisfy, the limp Fifty Shades Darker wants to be kinky but only serves as its own form of punishment.

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Movie Info

Anastasia has broken off her relationship with the troubled Christian to pursue a new career in a Seattle publishing house.

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Cast

Dakota Johnson
as Anastasia Steele
Jamie Dornan
as Christian Grey
Eric Johnson
as Jack Hyde
Rita Ora
as Mia Grey
Luke Grimes
as Elliot Grey
Victor Rasuk
as José Rodriguez
Bella Heathcote
as Leila Williams
Kim Basinger
as Elena Lincoln
Bruce Altman
as Jerry Roach
Andrew Airlie
as Carrick Grey
Robinne Lee
as Ros Bailey
Fay Masterson
as Mrs. Jones
Ryker Brown
as 4-Year Old Christian
Logan Brown
as 4-Year Old Christian
Carmen Dollard
as Christian's Birth Mom
Ellen Ewusie
as Gallery Guest
Elizabeth McLaughlin
as Gallery Owner
Michael Meneer
as Auctioneer
Michael St. John Smith
as Auction Bidder
Derek Green
as Auction Bidder
Michelle Harrison
as Auction Bidder
Mark DeCarlo
as News Anchor
Bill Dow
as Willis
Stephanie Florian
as News Reporter
Colin Lawrence
as Penthouse Restaurant Customer
Lucia Walters
as Penthouse Restaurant Customer
Brooke Johnston
as Whispering Gallery Lady
Paniz Zade
as Salon Receptionist
Carmel Amit
as Whispering Guest at Masked Party
Isaiah Dobbs
as Flower Delivery Man
Gala Crooner
as José James
Jose James
as Gala Crooner
Otis Brown
as Band Member
Josh Hari
as Band Member
Rob Compton
as Yacht Captain
Ryan Mellors
as Juggler
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News & Interviews for Fifty Shades Darker

Critic Reviews for Fifty Shades Darker

All Critics (177) | Top Critics (40)

Fifty Shades Darker is not darker or better. It's watered down, raincoat-brigade style erotica, even with the spiced-vanilla S&M.

March 3, 2017 | Full Review…

Fifty Shades Darker, which fails so many tests of basic storytelling competence, is all the more stunning for its success at a task that most movies don't even bother attempting: depicting a woman's sexual pleasure.

February 24, 2017 | Full Review…

The story of a woman who gives her man better values and a man who gives his woman better clothes, both of them suffering so much for a little bit of nookie.

February 13, 2017 | Full Review…

Has even the target audience for this junk finally had enough?

February 13, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

A movie this bad deserves to have its flaws enunciated clearly...

February 12, 2017 | Full Review…

The movies aren't so bad they're good. They're so brilliantly bad they're genius, with Foley dutifully presenting every inane plot point while gifting us excuses to laugh.

February 10, 2017 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Fifty Shades Darker

½

Anime critic Jacob Chapman was once asked whether he would ever review hentai (Japanese animated pornography, for those not in the know). He replied that he wouldn't because it was impossible to review porn objectively. Other genres, he argued, could be judged according to certain seemingly objective standards (a good comedy makes you laugh, a good horror movie make you scared and so on), whereas porn rises or falls (ha ha) purely on the preferences of the viewer. In praising or criticising any given piece of erotic content, one runs the risk of projecting one's own sexual tastes onto the material and, in doing so, putting rather more than is necessary out into the public sphere. When reviewing erotic thrillers or dramas, therefore, one always has to assess any film on the basis of its structural and narrative integrity regardless of our more bestial responses to its salacious moments. Compared to its predecessor, Fifty Shades Darker may provide more by way of titillation, with a conscious effort to make the sex scenes more daring and ambitious (and more public) than before. But once these sections are taken out of the equation, the film becomes a very listless and lacklustre affair - it's an erotic drama which is occasionally erotic but never dramatic. One of the biggest problems with the first film was the lack of agency afforded to Anastasia as a character - something which, it is claimed, she has more of in the books. Without any form of serious resistance (or anything more than mild reluctance) on her part, the film resembles an anaemic version of Dracula, with the mysterious rich gentleman preying on the virginal beauty. If we take this aspect in isolation, Fifty Shades Darker does improve on its predecessor, insofar as they are more scenes of Ana putting her foot down and wanting a relationship on her terms. But in the wider context of things, the film makes so many other steps backwards that this improvement becomes barely noticeable. Fifty Shades Darker (Darker hereafter) suffers from the increased role of E. L. James in its production. Whether you like her work or not, adaptations can often suffer from the author being too close to the work and stifling the screenwriter's creativity; as I mentioned in my review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, novelists who get involved in film-making so often lack the visual invention to match their verbal acrobatics. Kelly Marcel's script for the first film was largely flat and often risible, but you occasionally got a glimmer of effort being made to shape the material for the screen rather than kowtow to the author. This film's screenplay, on the other hand, comes from James' husband Niall Leonard; it feels more carefully controlled, so that the entire exercise becomes a means of indulging James' ego rather than serving the material or - heaven forbid - entertaining the audience. This increased sense of control is also reflected in the choice of director. Sam Taylor-Johnson didn't see eye to eye with James during the production of the first film, so it isn't any real surprise that she decided to pull out of shooting the sequels back to back. Watching the film did feel like wading knee-deep through wallpaper paste, but you did at least get the impression of the director and cast trying to go against the tide of the material and emerge with something half-decent. With James Foley behind the camera as a workmanlike safe pair of hands, the characters have stopped wading and decided to lie flat on their backs on top, as the waves slowly drag them away. The film feels slow, ponderous and devoid of any pep when either or both of its leading players are fully clothed. The sex scenes in Darker are an illustration of the film's central problem, which the increased role of James and the kid gloves approach of Foley both hint towards. Watching the scenes in isolation, they are decently assembled in terms of the editing and music compared to those in the first film, which often came across as clinical and awkward. The substance of the sex scenes is still tame by modern standards (the Emmanuelle series or The Story of O were far racier than this), and logic regularly takes a back seat; the film doesn't just not get how S&M relationships work, it doesn't always understand how ben wa balls operate. If you watched the sex scenes on their own, they may or may not do something for you - but they are not integrated with the film as a whole, and that's a big problem. In order for an erotic thriller or erotic drama to work, it has to have a compelling story which the sex can either interrupt (in a bad film) or be a somewhat integral part (in a good one). The career of Andrew Davies (who adapted Tipping the Velvet and Fanny Hill for the BBC) is welcome evidence of this. You don't need the most cerebral or original story in the book - Basic Instinct isn't exactly Chinatown in its complexity - but if you don't find a way to integrate the nudity into the plot you end up with a film which feels like two different stories incongruously zipped together. If you don't care about the story, you may as well be watching porn; while Darker can titillate, it cannot captivate. Once you take the sex scenes out of Darker, it becomes a boring, overwrought and very waxy soap opera, in which much is talked about but very little actually happens. Much of the action plays out like an episode of Dallas; here, as there, we get a lot of rich people swanning around doing rich people things and bickering over the tiniest detail. The ball scene is an awkward meld of Cinderella and Eyes Wide Shut, but without the wonder of the former or the creeping sense of dread in the latter. You may have a couple of moments of being impressed by the costumes or enjoying the music, but beyond that there is little to sustain our attention. Even by the low standards of the first film, Darker is a poorly written piece of work. All the character issues that were present in the first film are magnified here; the more stuff Christian buys to impress Ana and convince her that he's changed, the more creepy and suffocating he becomes. For every moment where we are let in to some part of his subconscious and given some reason to question our initial suspicions about him, part of us is always on edge and wanting to leave. But even if the characters aren't an issue for you, the film is choppily plotted and quickly descends into travelogue footage; as in some of the weaker James Bond films, people go to exotic places for no apparent reason, stay there for hardly any time at all and then leave with no explanation. This latter problem - exemplified by the section involving the helicopter crash - only serves to emphasise how stake-free the film feels, and how much its attempts at generating tension or emotional weight fall flat. It's easy to make cheap jokes about how the series started out as Twilight fan fiction, but the script for Darker plays out like fan fiction, insofar as it goes to ridiculous extremes to put the author's chosen couple together - the results of which are regularly an anticlimax. The arbitrary changes in location also prevent any real chemistry from building between the characters, and the attempts to bringing out a darker tone (such as in the opening scenes) feel either desperate or just too jarring to be effective. The final aspect which prevents Darker from being even a passable erotic thriller is the performances. The on-screen relationship between Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson was always awkward, but here the awkwardness is increased by the plot's attempts at raising the stakes. Johnson's irritating breathy delivery is even more annoying here, and her attempts at sounding firm or frightened are unconvincing. Dornan, equally, is too deadpan and often seems to abruptly zone out in the middle of a scene. Where before the pair made an effort in spite of the material, here they are merely going through the motions. Mind you, they aren't the only ones who are unimpressive; Rita Ora is grating, Eloise Mumford is uninspiring, and Kim Basinger looks and performs like a waxwork animatronic. It's a million miles from her work in 9 1/2 Weeks, in terms of either raunchiness or screen presence. Fifty Shades Darker is a dismal and dreary sequel which does away with most of the few qualities the first film possessed. In Foley's hands, with James looming over him in the background, the film quickly descends into a series of occasionally titillating sex scenes intercut with dull, poorly staged and entirely non-compelling character drama. It's not offensively bad enough to be terrible, but it is deeply unmemorable, leaving one feeling hollow, depressed and more than a little short-changed.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Throughout the years, cinema has had its high points and its low points. On average, there is a general 50% percent between the good and the bad, but Fifty Shades Darker is on a new level. Let's be clear and say that there really wasn't anything good about the first film. It was a horrible script with a bad plot that wasn't very exciting, but somehow Fifty Shades Darker makes the original bearable. I felt like I was in a trance during my viewing of this picture, wondering why I even chose to watch it. Slowly becoming fascinated with how atrociously bad nearly every single second was, I just had to finish it. If anything is worse than this film this year I will genuinely be shocked. Here is why this film should be seen by every filmmaker as a lesson on how to not make a film. A film can take its time revealing what its premise is truly about in order to savour the flavour of its twists, but when a story never reveals itself, it makes its audience feel robbed. Following the conclusion that had Anastasia Steele leaving Christian Grey at the end of the first film, you'd expect that the sequel would be about one of them trying to win the other back, but that happens within the first five minutes of the film. For the next two hours, you will find yourself watching a series of dates, sex scenes, stalkers following them, and stupid injections into the so-called story that made the film laughable to say the very least. The plot of this film is that they date, develop some sort of relationship and eventually fall in love. That's it, seriously. With no inciting incidents and reluctance to have anything bearing happen, I found myself amazed that this film was even made. Most critics hate on Johnson and Dornan for having zero chemistry with one another, but that was not an issue I had with the first film, in fact they elevated the lame premise for me. That being said, even I can see that neither one of them are giving it their all here. It felt like they were forcing kinky aspects into the film when necessary, solely for the purpose of stimulating the audience. For that reason alone I felt betrayed as an audience member. Making half a billion dollars at the box office the first time around, Fifty Shades Darker barely cracked half of that. It just goes to show that quality does trump all every now and then. I've never read these novels, but it felt like the sequences that had the character of Leila stalking Christian was forced into the story to pad out the run time, making it seem like it had a bigger purpose than what was on the surface. From this stupid element to an element that has Christian facing someone from his past, to being able to overcome certain memories, everything about the small side plots throughout this film felt laughable to me. Look, I was one of the people that defended the original train wreck of a film for not being quite as horrible as people suggested it was, but there is absolutely nothing redeemable about this sequel. In the end, there isn't a single audience I can recommend this to. Sure, it's aimed at older women, but I can even see them chuckling throughout a lot of this film. Their chemistry, along with the overall "plot" of this film was a step down from what was already a lacklustre film. From the horrendous dialogue to the laughter-inducing sex sequences with blaring pop music, Fifty Shades Darker feels like a parody of this genre, unintentionally. I honestly don't know how we live in a time where three of these films are being made, but this film is so terrible that I'm actually curious to see if it can get any worse than this. If you haven't seen either of these films, especially this one, you're doing yourself a very solid favour.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

James Foley's Fifty Shades Darker may be a little darker, but still a bland grey sums it up. For nearly 2 hours, the film delivers stuff, then sex, more stuff, then more sex, etc. The story is slow and tiresome, leaving very little to show other than the aforementioned sex scenes. The highlight is obviously the erotic segments, which gives this film its R-rating. There are a good share of them, but nothing that pushes to an NC-17 rating, which is where this picture may begin to shine, just a little. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are definitely easy on the eyes, but their performances don't help this picture in anyway. The characters may be written this way, and if so, it doesn't work on screen as it would in a book. Fifty Shades Darker does have a kinkiness to it; just not enough to strip down and stand out.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

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