It's rare to meet somebody who has no opinion on Fifty Shades of Grey. Some love it. Many hate it. But like it or not, E.L. James' trilogy of books tapped into the zeitgeist in a way no other book series has perhaps since Harry Potter.
The film that followed was a huge box office success, but it received a slew of lukewarm reviews, averaging 46 on Metacritic. That's actually not a disaster, and I reckon there's potential - depending on the ambitions of its director (currently unknown) and Universal Pictures - to turn this franchise into something genuinely decent. With that in mind, here's how Fifty Shades Darker could learn from the mistakes of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Make it kinkier
In its review of the first film, the New York Post described Fifty Shades as "diluted (and) softcore". The Miami Herald wrote that "it doesn't inspire lust". "Mild provocation in this porn-saturated day and age", added Variety. You could probably have taken your mother to watch it, if you really wanted, and left the cinema not feeling too mortified.
Let's face it: the source material these films are working with is not Shakespeare. The movies need to find a way to elevate a badly-written book into something more interesting, but one thing the books do have going for them is the s-word.
Lots of it.
E. L. James does not hold back in describing what Ana and Christian get up to in the "playroom", so why was Fifty Shades of Grey - the movie - so tepid in its depictions of the act?
Perhaps because the studio put pressure on director Sam Taylor-Johnson to keep things clean, the movie came off bland. In France, the film was rated a 12, on account of its "tasteful" sex scenes, which were kept to a "bare minimum". Perhaps not quite "bare" enough...
In Fifty Shades Darker, there needs to be more - more nudity, more bondage, more graphic physicality. Let's watch Christian go down on Ana. Put it this way: you don't buy a cake with a cherry on top, just to pick the cherry off and leave it on your plate. You want to eat that cherry.
Create something iconic
Like that scene in Basic Instinct, in which Sharon Stone exerts her full power over an interrogation room full of police detectives who suddenly find themselves in quite a state. The trick is to use suggestion to create a sequence or an image that will stick in the memory long after the audience leaves the cinema.
Not easy to do, but if Fifty Shades wants to leave a legacy behind, it could do worse than learning from one of the all-time classic erotic thrillers.
Lead actors who don't despise each other
The first 20 seconds of this video are absolutely incredible. I watched three times just to feed off the pure awkwardness radiating from these two actors who seem to truly despise each other.
Unfortunately, Dakota Blue and Jamie Dornan have to make another two movies together, so they should probably find a way to enjoy each other's company, and perhaps that will then translate into on-screen chemistry. Because right now, it's lacking.
Run with the 'jealous Elena' subplot
In the novel, Ana becomes bitterly disgusted after discovering that Christian began a sexual relationship with Elena, a Mrs. Robinson figure, when he was just 15. Elena in turn becomes jealous that Christian has taken Ana as his new lover, and not only that but has romantic feelings for her. Scheming ensues.
Now, women fighting over the affections of a man might be a bit 'misogyny 101', but E. L. James already left feminism at the door, so we might as well keep things spicy with a bit of classic, green-eyed envy. Why not divert from the plot of the novel and have Elena hatch a plan to kill Ana? If Fatal Attraction taught us anything, it's that a woman scorned makes excellent cinema.
Do you have any suggestions for how Fifty Shades Darker could improve on a rather "vanilla" movie (to recycle a term from the novel)? Should the sexiness factor be ramped up, or could the story diverge from the book? Perhaps there's a certain director who could bring a touch of erotica to the sequel - where are you, Brian De Palma?
Whatever your take on Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequel movie, leave a comment below and let us know what you want from Fifty Shades Darker!