Ties definitely have a lot more use than just making one look professional.
Young and ambitious English Lit. major Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) fills in for her roommate to conduct an interview with the young, brash and handsome millionaire that is Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman). The two have their interview and, believe it or not, hit it off quite well; so well, that Grey begins to start asking Anastasia out on dates that she can’t believe to be true. However, seeing as Christian’s a nice guy who means well, Ana decides that going out on a date with him wouldn’t be so bad. Then, she gets the idea to spend the night over his place and possibly even lose her virginity. That’s not so bad, either. But then, the tides begin to change when Ana realizes that there’s something creepy, even mysterious behind Christian’s persona; which, as a result, has something to do with the way they make love and whether or not Ana is willing to go through some of the more extreme prices she has to pay for Christian Grey’s price. But is it all worth it?
There’s something about Fifty Shades of Grey that seems a tad edgy, even by today’s movie’s standards. It’s an R-rated, mainstream flick that’s adapting some of the naughtiest, grimiest material that most house-wives read and fantasized about day in and day out. I’ve never read the original source material, but from what I’ve heard, I probably wouldn’t like it. Like, at all.
However, I’m not the target-audience for this movie, which is why it won’t just hit the top of the box-office by the end of the weekend, but might break all sorts of records in the process. Women from all over the world will be flocking to any movie theater they can find that’s playing this movie, which calls into question: Is any of it worth it? Well, like I said before about it being slightly edgy, especially so for a mainstream flick, there’s plenty of sex here. It’s an R-rated movie in that we see plenty of boobs, butt, bush, S&M, and plenty of spanking. But is it enough to warrant somebody’s undivided attention for nearly two hours? Especially when the main reason everybody is coming to see this for in the first place, only takes up about 20 minutes of screen-time?
Well, people, there’s such a thing as “hard R”, and then there’s such a thing as “soft R”.
And sadly, this adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey leans more towards the later.
However, don’t get me wrong, even though this material clearly isn’t made precisely for me, I went into it expecting anything to happen, both good and bad. Which, for the first half-hour or so, there was surprisingly more good than bad. Some of this, I feel, has to do with the fact that the powers that be behind this movie insistence on getting an unconventional choice of a director like Sam Taylor-Johnson to take over the reigns for this story.
Though Taylor-Johnson has only one film to her name (Nowhere Boy, which is pretty solid), there’s something here about what she does with this material that makes it seem like she actually cares how it looks and feels. There’s a certain airy-breath to this film that fits well with the Seattle setting and makes some of these scenes seem as hot and sweaty as they should be feeling right from the start. There’s one scene in particular where Ana and Christian are going over the paperwork for their upcoming escapades, and while this scene could have been as conventional as they come, Taylor-Johnson films it in a dark, somewhat eerie view that adds a certain layer of promiscuity to a movie that clearly is going for that as is.
Also, not to mention that Taylor-Johnson focuses long and hard enough on these two characters that we at least get some semblance of who they are as human beings, and exactly what they are when they are together. Maybe less so with Christian Grey (more on that guy in a minute), but it’s definitely the case for Anastasia Steele, who is probably made a lot better by the fact that she has the lovely, charming and vivacious Dakota Johnson portraying her. In case some of you out there didn’t know by now, Johnson is the daughter of both Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and while she may not totally look like her dad (thank heavens), it’s easy to see the similarities in terms of looks and the way she handles herself on screen, with her mommy.
But it should be noted that Johnson is clearly her own force of nature that seems like she could be as famous, if not more so, than her famous mom, because not only does she have the face a movie camera could love, but she’s able to make us, the audience, believe in every piece of sappy writing she’s forced to deliver here. On paper, Anastasia Steele is another boring, female character that falls for the hot, young, and rich dude that opens up her eyes to pretty houses, pretty cars, pretty parties, and most of all, pretty sex. And the fact that Anastasia is a virgin, makes it all the more nauseating to even type. But somehow, Johnson is a capable enough actress who is able to bring some semblance of humanity, or believability to this character that not only allows for us to sympathize with her every step of the way, but even wish she would just make the right decisions in life.
Once again, this role shouldn’t work, but she actually does, which probably has to do with Johnson’s well-done performance.
Now, as for the role in this movie that doesn’t work, it’s Jamie Dorman as Christian Grey, every girl’s favorite slap-happy millionaire. There’s a part of me that felt bad watching Dorman here; for starters, he wasn’t even the initial choice for this role, so already, my heart kind of goes out to the day. Second of all, he’s forced to work with an American-accent that he’s clearly not at all comfortable enough with. But then, the real problem is just that this role is way too dull; too much so for even someone like Dorman to take over and make better. Which, once again, makes me feel bad for the guy, because he’s definitely trying to bring out any shred of humanity to be found within this guy, but he’s as plain as a piece of plank.
Not to mention, the guy hardly gets naked. Like, at all. And while this may not be a problem for other heterosexual men out there, it is for this heterosexual man. No, it’s not because I want to see man-junk whenever the opportunity possibly arises itself, and no, it’s surely not because this past episode of Looking seemed to disappoint me. No, it’s more that when you have your female character getting spanked, licked, banged and kissed, and have her be full-on naked throughout pretty much all of it, and hardly ever dress-down her male counterpart, except to maybe show us his bum, or an ever so sudden bush shot, it goes from being hot, to downright distasteful. If one person is going to get fully naked in a movie about sex, then so should the other! Not this jeans-wearing crap!
But that’s just a little problem that only I may have, and if that’s the case, then so be it.
However, that’s not where the problems for this movie end, because as the story progresses and we’re supposed to feel all messed-up and emotional over what’s happening to our two lovers, it becomes obviously clear that maybe Taylor-Johnson herself got discouraged and just gave up altogether. The movie’s nudity isn’t necessarily safe, as much as it just becomes tiresome and boring, whereas it should be sizzling, hot and spicy, just about every time we see a body-part in all its naked-glory. The story also goes into some strange areas where it’s clear that they want to discuss what a hot-and-heavy relationship like this can do to one person who isn’t totally used to it, but all sorts of food-for-thought points the movie tried to make, go right out the window once we’re left with the same abrupt ending that Mockingjay: Part 1 gave us. And guess what? Just like that movie, we’re definitely getting a sequel, if not a few more.
Except that, this time, I’m not really looking forward to what’s coming next.
Consensus: Not as titillating, as much as it’s just boring, Fifty Shades of Grey shows early promise of being better than you’d expect it to be, but then turns for the worst once it becomes clear that this movie’s all about the thrusting, and less about the emotions. Sort of like how sex with me is.
5 / 10 = Rental!!
Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz
be careful with that last line here Dan 🙂
Excellent review! I haven’t gone to see it and, I’ve been on the fence about it, but I’m glad to know what I’m getting myself into if I do decide to go for it.
Good review Dan. I reviewed this one yesterday and we came up to the same rating.
I think the biggest problem with this movie is that it’s only R rated. It’s a very light version of what I expected to see. I found it disappointing that Dornan was too dressed up, firstly because, come on, him naked is much better and secondly, it did not really seem to be really sincere BDSM loving man being shy to show some skin down there.
Great review! Glad you gave it a chance and it looks promising. Fi, Christian doesn’t take his jeans off in the book either, no reason except for he’s “fifty shades of fucked up”……..!
Really disappointed that this is the only new release that the cinemas near me are playing this week. I really wanted to see Love Is Strange instead!
Totally understand your comments about equality in nudity – too often it’s just the woman who’s expected to take her clothes off and the man gets away with leaving his on. The feminist in me gets pretty cheesed off with that.
Haha! I suspected as much. Good review Dan.
Great review. I gave it a 7 if you wanna check it out 🙂
Great review. I gave it a 7 if you wanna check it out 🙂
Hilarious last line there Dan. Too bad this movie doesn’t turn out to be too…..titillating. omg if I do end up doing a review it’s probably going to feature so many damn dirty puns…….
5/10 isn’t at all bad. I’m almost interested in seeing this just because I want to know what I think of it!
Nice review by the way Dakota Johnson is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. I went to see it but didn’t put in in my site it was too boring. It started good But afterwards I fell a sleep. Maybe the next one. And no I didn’t read the book either.
Great review, that last line had me laughing so much.
Can’t wait to destroy this one in a review.. I have a feeling I will hate it. 😀
If you watch it with this premise, you will. But there definitely are things you can love.
Omg, I knew it. I knew Johnson would be doing all the nudity and Doran would get out of it. That’s such bullshit. Why is the female nude and the male covered? That isn’t fair at all. Excellent review though, I’m glad Sam Taylor Johnson took good care of this film, because I worried for her. She’s so likable, and I didn’t want this film to ruin her career. lol
I just have NO interest in this move at all. I dont do hyped movies, and this is only going to be successful, because of all the “sex” in it…yawn. Listening to the director herself, she watched Pretty Woman, Nine and a half Weeks and Last Tango in Paris a week before starting to film 50 Shades, so she has basically copied those films. Yawn!!! Don’t follow the pack.
I guarantee I enjoyed your review more than I ever would that movie. Totally uninterested.
I felt the same about Dornan’s lack of nudity. Felt kind of like a sexist double standard!
Ha ha, great last line!
Haha! Great write-up, Dan. This just sounds so bad and yet I can’t wait to see it. The book is just terrible so I’m interested to compare the two. In the mean time it’s a big shame about the lack of equality in nudity because that seems like a huge double standard, that and in the book Ana is talking about his junk literally all the time. I wouldn’t recommend reading it at all.
Great review Dan. Love the part about Dornan. As you said, you do feel for the guy because he wasn’t the first choice. With that said, there’s a feeling he could at least try more, commit to the role more, like Johnson does. And really quickly, I stopped listening to what he was saying and more of how he was saying it.
Hah! I had to get the guys perspective on this film. I’m so excited to see your whole site actually because I’ve been so busy rushing to see the Oscar Nom films that now I just want to pile up on a bunch of the others for fun. Your movie reviews will give me an idea of how to map my course! Great reviews!
Not seeing this ever. Yawn. Not up my alley and even my Wife, who loves the book, is un-interested. Awesome write up, though, Dan.
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Sam Taylor-Johnson really does seem to care about the quality of the film as a director and it really shows. Dakota Johnson also breathes much needed life into Anastasia Steele as a character. Christian Grey on the other hand is the polar opposite, like you say. He has plenty of things going against him (poor guy), but he’s just not interesting and his treatment in the nudity department isn’t equitable. Even us heterosexual guys can agree. I also concur with your consensus. Fifty Shades of Grey much more boring than titillating as a movie because everything becomes tiresome.