Skip to main content

Movie Review: Unfriended: Dark Web 'Predictable and generic'

Movie Review: #FiftyShadesDarker

Christian and Anastasia renew their bondage bloodlush in a film only a masochist would find inviting.

Review by Matt Cummings

I seriously could not believe how bad 2015's Fifty Shades of Grey was until I went back to my original review. The worst offense was that its story failed to elevate the burgeoning awareness of the lifestyle, settling instead on a flawed character who decides to impart his pain on an unsuspecting doe. It was also a terribly dull affair, offering zero chemistry between its leads, and plodding through its inane plot like a death march. Seen through those lenses, 50 Shades Darker is as faithful a sequel as one could imagine, a bland and boring affair that actually sees less bondage, more of that bad chemistry, and a plot that only a masochist would find inviting.

Fresh off her breakup, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is seeking big changes in her life, working for an ad agency while trying to put her painful breakup with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) behind her. But Grey won't have that, eventually offering Steele a powerful remedy for their relationship woes: Grey will pursue a strictly vanilla relationship with Ana. Intrigued by the notion, Ana returns to Christian's life, only to be swept up in his past loves, including his "teacher" (Kim Basinger) and a former submissive (Bella Heathcoat) who practices some Fatal Attraction on Ana's car. As Christian adjusts to their new relationship, Ana too faces challenges with her job, as boss Jack (Eric Johnson) makes her existence there nearly impossible, forcing Christian's hand in a way that will bring the two closer together than ever. But will Christian remain the dutiful vanilla, and can Ana keep this relationship from becoming a repeat of her boyfriend's previous spectacular failures?

Who cares. Darker quickly wraps up most of these questions within the first 30 minutes, but never seems to know when to quit. We're made to think these two are actually in love with each other, when really all we know is that Christian has money, Ana does not, and the two apparently have even less in common than they did in the original. There's no basis for a relationship here, and so the story plods on in an effort to make us think otherwise. There was much talk of these actors' disdain for each other while shooting the first film, and it seems like much of that wasn't resolved. There's zero chemistry between them and, bubbling up like a radioactive dump site. Sexually-tinged moments feel forced, and any effort by these two to genuinely love each other come off as practiced rather than what new director James Foley probably intended.

Replacing Sam Taylor-Johnson, Foley couldn't care less about the world outside of these two, filling those moments with the same gum-chewing moron brother (Luke Grimes), his girlfriend (Eloise Mumford), and Grey's doting mom (Marcia Gay Harden). They're all supposed to represent anchors for our leads, but none of them are around enough to do any such thing. Instead, this threesome is left to react rather than inhabit their roles. Basinger, once a sex symbol, hasn't been good in a film in awhile. She seems too old to be Christian's Domme: I truly wondered if anyone considered this before pairing Dornan who clearly could be his grandmother. Any interesting plot details - especially those between Grey's former sub Leila and Ana's new boss - are brushed aside fairly quick, as are the negotiations between Ana and Grey that renew their relationship. The best moment of this series continues to be the "negotiation scene" in the original. Here, we get a dinner, an overpriced bottle of wine, and voila! things are back to normal.

Of course, nothing in Darker is normal, including the "kinky fuckery" made famous by Ana to describe Christian's pursuits. Darker once again misses the opportunity to sexualize these moments of romance for the 21st Century, abandoning the notion that regular people enjoy the sport alongside seasoned lifestylers, and enforcing the notion that this kind of smut is somehow a bad thing. Darker still makes us think BDSM is embraced only by damaged people, who can't seem to find their sweet spot between sadism, masochism, and the normal pursuits of everyday people. In many ways, Darker quietly and conveniently sends the first two to their cages, leaving the latter to wonder why they bothered to see the movie in the first place.

It's entirely possible that someone is still waiting for 2018's 50 Shades Shades Freed, as that one was filmed alongside Darker. But that pool of interest is diminishing quickly, dragged down by yet another snoozefest that's poorly acted, poorly executed as a drama, and entirely misses the point of BDSM. Anyone who emerges from this one should ask for their money back, as it offers less frolicking than the original, hampered by two leads who still don't get along. Darker immediately enters my Worst-Of list for 2017 and should be avoided as a franchise at all costs.

Fifty Shades Darker is rated R for strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity, language, and "kinky fuckery," and has a runtime of 118 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Movie Review: #MissSloane

The political drama Miss Sloane fails to lobby us into Oscar territory.
Review by Matt Cummings
In a time when women were supposed to be leading our country, Miss Sloane arrives to remind us of what could have been. Unfortunately, this message about a headstrong female Washington lobbyist loses us early with an unappealing director, a paper-thin plot, and suffers from a ton of convenient realism. If the good (but not impressive) performances weren't there to buffer these and many other gaps, we might have found ourselves voting for impeachment.

For Washington lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), life is about getting her clients what they want from the halls of Congress. Her boss Dupont (Sam Waterston) will sleep with NRA types, fudge travel records, and bully smaller firms into submission if it means a hearty paycheck at day's end. But when Sloane leaves the company to push Gun Control legislation with one of those smaller firms, Dupont turns to his bulldog Co…

Giveaway: @SwissArmyMan Prize Pack

In celebration of Swiss Army Man opening this Friday, we were provided with an Awesome giveaway for our fans out there.



See how to enter after the Jump...

Prize pack will include a large Manny beach towel and a tote bag



Email us at giveaways@sandwichjohnfilms.com
Subject-Swiss Army Man
Name & mailing address

Outrageously fun and deeply affecting, Swiss Army Man is a gonzo buddy comedy that is the feature film debut of acclaimed music video directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (collectively known as DANIELS, and responsible for the visionary “Turn Down For What” video, among many others). Bursting with limitless creativity in both form and content, Swiss Army Man goes from the absurd to the emotional to the whimsical to the profound and back again.

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore; the two become fast friends…

Bethany Ashton Wolf¹s FOREVER MY GIRL ACQUIRED BY @roadsidetweets

Forever My Girl tells the story of country music super-star Liam Page (Alex Roe) who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over Josie, his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots in the small community where he was born and raised. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his high school best friend, Liam is suddenly faced with the consequences of all that he left behind.

Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment partner for their 7th collaboration with Roadside’s domestic distribution acquisition of Bethany Ashton Wolf’s uplifting family romance Forever My Girl, it was jointly announced today by Roadside Attractions co-founders Howard Cohen & Eric d’Arbeloff, and Mickey Liddell of LD Entertainment. Forever My Girl will be released wide in theaters on October 27, 2017.

The two companies previously collaborated on numerous films including multiple Academy Award® nominee …