Review: 50 Shades of Grey


50 Shades of Grey movie poster

Beyonce’s remixed “Crazy in Love” plays in the background of the “50 Shades of Grey” trailer, infused with the same tension as a rubber band.

I wish the actual “50 Shades of Grey” movie had snapped me in the same way the soundtrack had, but the flaws in the novel gave way to muted, awkward emotion on the big screen.

“50 Shades of Grey” was adapted to film from E.L. James’s Twilight fanfiction-turned original novel. Selling 100 million copies in 52 languages, James created an unprecedented stir with her erotic, BDSM-lite novel.

Women saw an opportunity to explore an alternate sexual experience within the story of Anastasia Steele, a mousy, recent college-grad sent to interview 27-year-old billionaire, Christian Grey. After an encounter of lust at first sight, Anastasia is then introduced to the lifestyle of Mr. Grey. They fly helicopters on a whim, he gives her brand-new cars and they engage in unconventional sexual activity.

Jamie Dornan makes a valiant effort to play Christian, but falls short due to an intensely lacking script. Dakota Johnson brings unexpected fullness to the flat character of Ana, but nothing can help this movie; it’s doomed before it even began.

The film puts the fundamental flaws of the novel under fluorescent lights. Still, director Sam Taylor-Johnson (“Nowhere Boy”) and director of photography Seamus McGarvey (“Atonement”) worked with what they could.

The bottom line is nobody can develop a cinematic masterpiece when weighed with the limitations of shoddy prose and superficial themes presented by the novel. I’m not here to attack the talent of the director, cinematographer or main actors. I’m here to tell you why “50 Shades” failed.

I appreciate “50 Shades of Grey” opened the door to erotica for many. Sex taboos have no place in 2015. However, E.L. James’s implied motifs are enough to make me gag.

Watching the sex scenes of the film had me squinting my eyes, trying to find the passion. The movie is seen as abusive because neither of the main characters is written well enough to be believable in their quest for dominance or submissiveness.

What’s more, Anastasia lives for the moments when Christian envelops her in romance. She giggles with him, he takes her on a surprise helicopter ride, which he pilots himself, but he does so on the terms that she will submit her will to him. Ana is always asking for more from Christian, and so am I. She doesn’t understand why his romance comes with handcuffs. What kind of message does it send to young girls that women should live for the rare moments of beauty in a relationship and suffer through everything else?

Regardless of the paper-thin prose, I naively hoped the movie would still leave me lusting. I’ve witnessed hotter sex scenes in six-second vines of Dylan O’Brien.

Will I invest 16 more dollars into the franchise when movies two and three are released? No, but I’ll rent them from Redbox with a laugh and a grain of salt. “Twilight” got better with age, and I imagine “Dirty Twilight” will as well.