Warning: Do not proceed unless you want to be beaten into submission with Fifty Shades Darker spoilers. Don't say I didn't warn you.
It seems that a new Fifty Shades offering is swiftly becoming an annual tradition these days, with hordes of fans dragging their significant others to theaters all over the country in hopes of stealing an illicit glimpse of the naughty things Mr. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are getting up to behind closed doors.
And with the second instalment of the series out on February 10, be assured that when it comes to sex, #FiftyShadesDarker has cranked up the heat. Considering the original Fifty Shades of Grey was essentially a smelly, wet blanket masquerading as a supposed erotic book-to-movie adaptation — with close to zero memorable sex scenes to quench that raging audience sexual frustration — Darker pulls out all the stops. Ultimately, it seems that over at Universal, someone was listening when fans screamed how they barely saw a tit in what was supposed to be a movie about two people boning each other silly while flicking a whip or two.
Rest assured, almost half of the movie features Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan — who surprisingly doesn't look like he wants to run at the franchise with a sledgehammer just yet — in various states of undress, doing various things to each other. I won't give too much away but let's just say that although this instalment still falls flat of a real-life BDSM relationship, foot clamps and some very expensive metal balls up a hoo-haa are involved. Admittedly, it's all something that quite probably a number of middle-aged ladies will certainly consider to be "kinky fuckery," to use Ana's wonderful turn of phrase.
There's also a scene that sees Johnson bite her lip and sensually scribble on Dornan's ripped torso with her lipstick to unearth the emotionally volatile man deep within. While this is probably meant to show their growing connection, it actually just makes for an awkward moment that sees Christian panting for breath as if he's just experienced the best orgasm of his life. It's mind-boggling and weird to say the least, so once you've seen the movie, please do share what that crap was all about.
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Moving on though, the solid efforts of the producers and writers behind Fifty Shades Darker to build on the characters of the two leads — who appeared as flat and one-dimensional as two pieces of soggy paper in the first movie — certainly pay off. For starters, when it comes to Anastasia, after doing some soul-searching following her disastrous run-in with Grey's Red Room in Fifty Shades of Grey, she's now portrayed more confidently. No longer the submissive, shy Ana — who would turn over for a smack at a moment's notice — E.L. James's heroine actually bites back a bit more.
On many occassions, she looks Grey in the eye and tells him what's what. When he momentary digresses back to his weirdo, sociopath, control-freak ways (which is quite often, to be honest!), she stands up to him. When he takes her to get her hair cut at the salon owned by Kim Basinger's predatory Mrs. Robinson, she's obviously not okay with it and she tells him so. When she finds out he has a file on all of his "sub" conquests, including her, she doesn't hesitate to say how creepy that is. Ultimately, you can tell that Ana not only gets metal balls stuffed up her, but also seemingly grows a teeny-tiny pair as well.
This is shown during their sex scenes too, which focuses also predominantly on her experience — in fact, she's the one telling him what to do and once they get going, the elusive Mr. Grey might as well not be there.
Don't get me wrong though, dropping director Sam Taylor-Johnson from the second movie didn't work miracles on the franchise — gaping plot holes and huge flaws exist. Dakota Johnson's Ana doesn't rise from the ashes like some kind of feminist phoenix, telling her man what to do. He still dictates their relationship, telling her when and where to take her underwear off. However, the difference is that she's just better and slightly less of a watery, vanilla latte of a participant than she was before.
Similarly, Jamie Dornan's Grey hasn't miraculously turned into a smiley Prince Charming, willing to skip off into a field of roses with his beloved. He's still an entitled billionaire and a twisted sadist at heart, who keeps alluding to Ana as his property and swings his cash around right, left and center. However, while previously he delighted in his disconcerting control over women, this Christian Grey now lacks that alpha-male swagger that he had in the first movie and finally, this makes E.L. James's handsome sex robot slightly more human.
All things considered, ignoring the bizarre reason they decided to cast Rita Ora in perhaps the most useless role ever created, it's clear that director James Foley and screenwriter Niall Leonard are at least trying to fix a few things. Granted it's absolutely no masterpiece but considering the original material they're working with leaves a lot to be desired, they've somehow managed to mould a weak script into something actually passable enough to be on your watch-list this Valentine's Day.
So, this weekend, ignore the shameless Apple product placement and feel free to pile into theaters to get your healthy injection of raunchy Ana/Christian romps set to a bangin' soundtrack. Let's be real, these are the only two reasons you're going to see the film anyway.
Fifty Shades Darker slips into our theatre screens on February 10.