50 Shades of Grey (2015)

This sorry excuse for a ‘literary phenomenon’ would’ve made a perfectly acceptable porno, aimed squarely at the S+M crowd. But, as a ‘legit’ movie adaptation…it fails utterly. This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to just about anyone with an iota of taste, when it comes to movies, but still…
Now, my own experience with ’50 Shades’ is limited to the one time an ex-girlfriend lent me her copy of the first book, just so I could try it and see what all the hoopla was about. I made it 8 pages before I slammed it shut and never reopened it. I may have even hurled it across the room. I found the writing style to be painfully amateurish, the sort of shit you MAY find in a high-school level dramatic writing class for aspiring porn writers. And if the actual ‘craft’ that went into the ‘story’ (I use the term VERY loosely) wasn’t bad enough, the subject and plot was idiotic, in my own, admittedly elitist opinion. I mean, what do you expect from a ‘work’ that started out as, no bullshit, ‘Twilight’ fan fiction.
So, as many of you unfortunate bastards know, The Story goes a lil something like this:
There’s this chick, a mousy nerd virgin ridiculously named ‘Anastasia Steele’ (Dakota Johnson) who steps in to sub for her sick roommate, to interview a mysterious 20-something gajillionaire named ‘Christian Grey’ (Jamie Dornan). For some reason, he locks her in his perverted sights and sets about pursuing, to add her to his list of 15 prior concubines. When she inevitably relents, like the moron she is, she discovers that this manipulative, robotic sociopath intends to literally sign her into a contract that would make her his part-time, live-in sex slave. No bullshit, there’s an actual legal contract involved, stipulating such wholesome goodies as ‘Anal Fisting’ and ‘Genital Clamps’. And…she goes for it. Let the high school-level mind-games begin!
Really though, the only mind-game at work here is this movie TRYING to convince the audience that it’s an actual MOVIE (it’s not). As I mentioned, the writing in the original book is awful and it seems (if rumor is to be believed) that the egotistical jackass woman who penned it, some ignorant goof who got lucky named E.L. James, managed to retain more control over the Shooting Script than she ever should’ve been granted…and it shows. The cringe-worthy dialogue, at least what I had read in those 8 pages, was vomited onto the screen and it’s genuinely laughable. Having said that, I should probably explain how I came to sear my eyeballs with this tripe. My current (and wonderful) girlfriend enjoyed the books. Before you go for the pitchforks and torches, she once explained, during one of my insensitive heckling sessions, that she’s well aware of the shortcomings of the books, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are to be taken as simply empty pseudo-sexual escapist entertainment aimed at lonely house-wives bored by their own generic or non-existent sex lives. We all like what we like…and based on that, I had to grudgingly admit that she had a point. It’s not my thing…but some of the shit that I like isn’t other people’s ‘things’ either. Fair enough. So my lady’s birthday reared it’s head and I opted to score her the Blu-ray as one of her gifts (I’m an asshole, I know). Knowing that the cursed thing would now be residing under our roof with us, I was genuinely curious to see just how awful it was going to turn out to be. I was also, oh so mildly, interested to see if any GOOD might emerge from it. So, last night, after a 10 hour road-trip, we collapsed onto our couch and fired it up.
It really does say a lot when an admitted fan of the book series, after an initial stern warning to me to try and keep my ‘kneejerkreaction’ heckling and chuckling to myself as it played, threw in the towel and started cutting the movie down herself, right around the half-way point. We ended up having fun with it, on THAT level.
First off, I’ll TRY and identify The GOOD. The only thing that leaps to mind as being even remotely commendable, is the cinematography. This movie LOOKS good. It’s competently framed and lit, giving the world of ‘Christian Grey’ a sterile, steely feel. The editing does what it needs to do with the footage but unfortunately, that’s where the vast majority of the problems lie.
The script is awful. Very little happens beyond the lead up to the meeting of the two chemistry-less protagonists. Once that’s been put into play, it’s nothing more than kinky, S+M-flavored sex scene after S+M-flavored sex scene, inter-cut with scenes where ‘Anastasia’ has a number of child-like emotional breakdowns, that make no sense, especially considering that she literally signed up for all the sexy pain and sexy humiliation she endures. It all leads up to an abrupt, sequel-hopeful ending that just seems to pop up outta nowhere.
The Music is mostly lazy-ass boring and weak R+B tunes that exist in the movie for no other reason than to get lumped into the Original Movie Soundtrack. EDITOR – “We have another scene with no dialogue”…PRODUCER- “Ok, just throw in (snorts rail of cocaine, then closes eyes and drops pointer finger onto nearby list)…this tune.” Seriously, if a bit more time and effort had been put into giving a number of scenes actual, mood-appropriate ‘score’, it would’ve actually bumped the flick’s watchability up a notch or two (that MAY be giving more credit than deserved). As it is, the music…like the movie…is annoying.
The Acting is weak and I’m not entirely sure where the fault of that lies. Prior to this, I was unfamiliar with Dakota Johnson (daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson), so I can’t rightfully say if this is a fair meter to judge her acting prowess on. She spends a bunch of time moping, when she’s not naked (over and over, to the point of boredom) and being whipped, tied up and fucked. Yep, that’s pretty much the extent of her character. She did have a couple of moments and lines that did make me genuinely crack-up (as they were intended), but then I just found myself wishing that this flick had opted to go for a more comedic vibe. And I found it distracting that I spent a chunk of the run-time trying to pick out what facial features she inherited from what celebrity parent (Nose and up-Don Johnson, mouth and chin-Melanie Griffith). As the brooding and apparently mysterious ‘Christian Grey’, Jamie Dornan is…sort of passable. But my girlfriend and I both agreed that it seemed like he was trying to give the weak-ass dialogue some kind of gravity (or was just struggling with his fake American accent), without knowing what that gravity should be. I’m not sure anyone on the film set knew what sort of gravity the character (or the movie as a whole!) should be either. He basically just filled a void in the script, when he wasn’t filling Dakota Johnson’s ‘void’! EVERYONE else who turns up is almost instantly forgettable.
And ‘forgettable’ is an apt description for how I came away feeling about this ‘movie’. All in all, ’50 Shades of Grey’ is another lame example of Hollywood leaping in to capitalize on The Next Big Social Phenomenon, even if it’s based on the piss-poor writings of a ‘Twilight’-obsessed moron who thinks she can write sexy and edgy material (that is COMPLETELY devoid of originality or character). It really does say something when the actual screenwriter has publicly stated that she won’t watch the finished product, and the director won’t be back for the inevitable sequel (yes, this shit DID actually turn a tidy profit). Unless you’re a die-hard fan of the books (with questionable taste and intelligence), or are overcome by the same morbid curiosity that bit me, there is NO REASON AT ALL to seek this crap out. Just fire up the inter-webs and dive into the digital world of online pornography. I guarantee you’ll get more out of THAT.


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