This Friday from director James Foley and Universal Pictures is the next chapter in the story of lovers who are becoming “Fifty Shades Darker.”
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is still reeling after the break-up with Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Getting a job at a publishing company working for Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), she keeps herself busy but it doesn’t stop Christian from reaching out. During a night out, Christian shows up asking Anastasia to please speak with him and she agrees.
While at dinner they talk about where their relationship needs to be before Anastasia would even consider reconnecting. That is when Christian begins to understand that he can no longer hide if he is to have her and explains parts of his past. Feeling that love between them might be possible, Anastasia is thrilled.
So is Christian’s mother Grace (Marcia Gay Harden) when the couple arrives at party being thrown at the Grey estate. Anastasia sees Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger) who promptly lets her know that her happiness isn’t going to last. Upset by her words, the couple leaves the party only to deal with another disturbing event caused by a young woman named Leila (Bella Heathcote).
Trying to keep Anastasia protected, it seems as if their problems are coming from all around as Christian tries to maintain control.
Because in their world it is all about control.
Johnson as Anastasia wastes no time wanting to work things out with Christian. Jumping right back into a crazy life, this time she has more to say about their situation. That is perhaps the most I can say about the growth of Johnson’s character. I would say more but the rest of the time is spent doing, well, wardrobe changes.
Dornan as Grey does the most personal evaluating when he finally starts to come clean about his past. There is still more to discover I’m sure but at least there are some answers to make fans happy. Dornan isn’t as angry looking in this film giving Christian smiles and a sense of humor previously lacking.
Basinger as Elena is definitely a problem child who is clearly not happy that Christian has won Anastasia back. She gives us a little 9 ½ WEEKS smoldering and not in a good way. Taking on the Grey’s wasn’t the smartest thing she could have done. Heathcote as Leila is a woman in pain and she wants everyone else to suffer, especially Anastasia.
Speaking of the Grey’s, Harden as Grace is elegant, beautiful and thrilled Anastasia is back. Ora as Mia is flighty and Grimes as brother Elliot is still hot and heavy for Anastasia’s roommate Eloise played by Kavanagh.
Other cast include Kate Kavanagh as Eloise, Rita Ora as Mia Grey, Luke Grimes as Elliot Grey, Victor Rasuk as Jose, Andrew Airlie as Carrick Grey, Robinne Lee as Ros Bailey and Max Martini as Taylor.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Fifty Shades Darker” three tubs of popcorn out of five. Although the storyline in this installment is fairly straight forward, it would have been better had it gone uninterrupted. What I mean by that is every fifteen minutes clothes were flying off and there isn’t much of the raciness of the first film.
Actually, to be honest, Anastasia’s joke of their new vanilla life is an understatement. The first film enticed viewers with an alternate sexual lifestyle only to have it squashed in this film under the guise of Christian “changing.” By the film’s end, there have been answered questions and new enemies setting up what is sure to come in the third installment.
Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey remain the hot couple that bring people into the theaters for a shared experience. That’s exactly what audiences will get with “Fifty Shades Darker,” twists, turns, answers and plenty of tension and wardrobe changes.
In the end — every fairy tale has a dark side!