Movie Reviews

Published on February 13th, 2015 | by Genevieve Mc Bride

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Fifty Shades of Grey

I remember thinking, after reading the first couple of chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey two years ago, “Is this guy a vampire?” E.L. James’ description of Christian Grey brought to mind Edward of the Twilight series and the heroine, Anastasia Steele’s clumsy entrance into Grey’s office reminded me of Bella. I was so certain I would find out Grey was a vampire in the following chapters.

So it wasn’t too much of a surprise for me when I learned the book started out as Twilight fan fiction. The hero and heroine were clearly patterned after Bella and Edward. So whenever someone asked me what the book was about, I would tell them, “It’s an awfully written Twilight with a lot of sex and some bondage and spanking. “ That being said, I’m hardly a book snob. I’ll read just about anything, and while I may complain the whole time, I’ll finish the series if one exists. But even casual readers should be able to recognize badly written fiction when it smacks them in the face like Fifty Shades of Grey.

When I heard they were making a movie, I figured it would be a Rated R or NC-17 version Twilight. I played the game along with other millions of women on who should be the leads. I picked Anna Kendrick and Ian Somerhalder. I wasn’t too disappointed with the actual picks (I think that required actually caring), but the trailers did not endear Dakota Johnson to me at all. On the way to the screener, I joked with my husband, Gareth, that I expected to see Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan doing a lot of gasping or scowling with mouth agape since that seemed to be their go-to reactions in the book. (James is fond of writing about jaw-drops and sharp intakes of breath in her books).

I had to make him promise to refrain from making Mystery Science Theater 3000 commentary during the movie, but within the first 5 minutes he recognized some landmarks and leaned over to ask “Wait. She went to WSU?” When I nodded, Gareth, a proud UW Husky, leaned back, shook his head and muttered, “Already disappointed.” We both actually enjoyed seeing the Seattle backdrop, all shiny and urbane, at least in Grey’s world. I thought Gareth was talking about the ridiculousness of Christian Grey’s wealth when he whispered, “This movie is so full of it.” I raised my eyebrows at him and he said, “You know you can’t find parking that easily in Seattle.”

Being familiar with the books, I knew what to expect and for the most part, director Sam Taylor-Johnson, greatly improved on weak source material. Dakota Johnson was a pleasant surprise, making Anastasia smart, witty and much more relatable than the book Ana. Jamie Dornan was very easy to look at. Listening to? Not so much. It’s been reported that E. L. James’ insisted the dialogue from her books remain unchanged. One wonders if she also insisted Dornan deliver his parts as if he were reading her book. Reluctantly and under great duress.

Fans of the books will notice a few changes, and of course it won’t be as graphic as the book, but there are at least 25 minutes of steamy scenes. All in all, this may be one of those rare times the movie is better than the book. Like the books, now that I’m invested, I will watch the next two in the trilogy. Mainly thanks to Dakota Johnson. If nothing else, I have to give Fifty Shades of Grey credit for inspiring passion – in debates about abusive relationships, true BDSM and the age-old bad boy vs. good men attraction. I don’t think I’ve engaged in this many debates with friends and coworkers about a non-sci-fi movie before. It could very well inspire all kinds of other passion for those who give in and escort their significant other to this movie this weekend. But hopefully, unlike the leads in the movie, those inspired will reach a satisfying finish rather than a stylized fade-out to the morning after.

2.5 out of 5

 

Second Review by Tracey Barrientos

 

Based on a Twilight fan-fiction series originally titled Master of the Universe, Fifty Shades of Grey has sparked an interest in the darker side of sex and romance. E.L. James has sure made a name for herself in the erotic literature department. With the help of director Sam Taylor-Johnson, she has brought Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey’s steamy relationship to the big screen. At least she tried to.

Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is a soon-to-be graduate who is asked by her best friend/roommate to fill in for her on an interview for their school paper with billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Little does Ana know that this interview is going to change the rest of her life. It sure does once Mr. Grey begins sending her expensive gifts and starts to become, for lack of a better word, a stalker. This is where the audience might become confused as does Ana.

Christian is all about how much he wants her, but because of his dark past she should stay away, and then reels her in only to force her to go. And on it goes until somehow he gets her to agree to a contract – contract in which he is the dominant and she is the submissive. She doesn’t sign it right away but is open to learning new things and though this worries him, it also intrigues him and doesn’t stop him from taking her on a tour of his “playroom.” She thinks this “playroom” is just a room where he might keep his video games and such but then after seeing it, she refers to it as “the red room of pain”. She then decides to go over the contract with Christian to discuss her soft and hard limits and I must say this is one of the funniest scenes in the film. While this is something she agrees to, she grows frustrated that he is not a romantic and is faced with the fact that she might just have fallen to deep for the wrong guy.

It is really easy to jump to the conclusion that Fifty Shades of Grey is just a bunch of written porn and there is no story behind it. There in fact is a story behind it, albeit not the best or well-written story but pretty entertaining to say the least. I’m not sure though if it’s better on paper or in film. Unfortunately the film has left me on that “do I like it, or do I not like it” fence. This has proven to be one of the most frustrating reviews I have had to write as I am a fan of the books but honestly not a big fan of the film.

With a film like this it is imperative that the two main characters have a great chemistry. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are so far from that and it resonates on the screen. Honestly though, I think Dakota was able to capture Anastasia Steel’s character and was on point. I cannot say the same for Jamie Dornan as famed Mr. Grey. Something is just off about the pairing and as I write this I have a hard time figuring it out. Was it a bad script that caused the lines to seem forced and flat? Was it just bad acting? The sex scenes were pretty darn steamy and as graphic as the rating R allowed them to be. There was still a touch of awkwardness between them during these scenes but I will give them the benefit of doubt.

Though these scenes do not dominate the film they do get more intense as the film goes on. I was not dissatisfied with those scenes but there is still something that was just not there. Being a fan of the series and with two confirmed sequels, I can only hope it will get better.

2.5/5

 

 

 


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