“No rules. No punishments. No secrets.” Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is back with a new job, a new mind-set, and a seemingly fresh, Christian-free life. Well, for the first five minutes anyway.
After an arguably long two-year wait, there has been a certain level of hype surrounding the release of the film for months, with sneak peaks such as ZAYN and Taylor Swift’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’, and an inviting trailer to excite fans for its release. Needless to say, the sequel has a lot to live up to, with its predecessor being a box-office hit back in 2015 with a $571m gross worldwide.
Originally adapted from the E.L. James novel, audiences could have only expected the sexual scenes and intense romance promised by the second instalment of the series. However, this timid sequel felt more like a teen rom-com than an 18-rated dirty romance. The new director’s (James Foley) choice to steer further away from the bondage of the first film may not have provided audiences with as much erotic content as they were looking for, but nevertheless, there is still enough lust to go around, with a montage of intimate scenes between the troublesome pair, and a less sloppy, more sophisticated take on their relationship.
Dakota’s embodiment of Anastasia is a lot more comfortable to watch this time around, with her humorous side making several appearances, as well as a softer, more emotional segment of Anna’s personality coming into play, something that we only really get a glimpse of at the end of the first film. Along with this new perception of Anna, the presence of villains and calamity provide more new elements for this film franchise to build upon, however the existence of unrealistic scenes detracts from what could be a worthy edition to a film in need of a stronger plot line.
Yet, there are many returning traits other than Anastasia’s lipstick shade, as well as the reoccurrence of Christian’s (Jamie Dornan) bland personality which is as vanilla as the Ben & Jerry’s product placed within the film. The ‘submissive’ and ‘dominant’ roles are still severely prominent, but a role reversal seems to take place during the film’s more emotional scenes, proving that no rules really do apply for this reunited couple.
Despite Dornan’s choice to play Christian as visibly emotionless as possible, there seems to be an underlying theme within the mysterious character of Grey; that if a man loves you enough, he will change for you. And as well as Christian trying to win Ana over with this statement, it feels as if Foley is trying to win over the audience, with the absence of brutality and a stronger focus upon romance showing that the film can have a tamer focus, but still captivate an adoring audience.
Fifty Shades Darker may be guilty of many tragedies, but it cannot be doubted in fulfilling its role as the guilty pleasure we’ve been waiting for.
Fifty Shades Darker is available to view in cinemas nationwide from February 10th.