“Fifty Shades of Grey” took the nation by storm over Valentine’s Day weekend. The novel written by E.L. James in 2011 was already a cultural phenomenon selling over 100 million copies. The success of the book set the bar high for the much anticipated movie.
When the movie was finally released, it did not disappoint with ticket sales. “Fifty Shades of Grey” brought in $85 million in the first three days upon release. This makes it the highest grossing Presidents Day opener of all time in addition to being the largest opening weekend for a romantic movie. “Fifty Shades of Grey” also saw the fourth biggest debut for a R-rated movie.
Despite its record-setting performance at the box office, critics and casual viewers alike did not receive the movie well. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie scored a dismal 25% approval rating from critics and a 45% rating from users.
Going into the movie, like anyone, I was curious about what I was about to see. I had heard mixed opinions from friends and critics, so I decided to see it with an open mind. I left the theater being able to make two conclusions: the soundtrack and cinematography were both well done, but the rest was not great.
The movie opens with college student Anastasia “Ana” Steele (Dakota Johnson) going to interview millionaire-entrepreneur Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for the Washington State University Newspaper. There is instant chemistry between the two which sparks an unorthodox relationship.
After essentially stalking her for a few days, Christian Grey takes Anastasia to his apartment in a helicopter where she signs a confidentiality agreement, so that she may not disclose anything about what the two of them talk about or do together. This leads to a few sensual moments before Christian insists that Anastasia sign a dominant/submissive contract.
The contract becomes the focal point of the movie because Anastasia wants a regular relationship, whereas Christian is only interested in sex with bondage and punishment. Christian wants her to sign the contract, so that she will be legally obligated to do whatever he says in the bedroom or “playroom.”
It seems as though Anastasia is going to sign the contract at multiple points in the movie, but she never does. This does not prevent them from having several erotic moments including ropes, feathers, whips, handcuffs and belts.
The movie ended with a ridiculous cliff hanger that made everyone in the audience laugh in disbelief. The one major plot point, the contract, is never resolved. The movie also introduces the audience to Christian’s harsh childhood before he was adopted which is likely the root of his sexual fascinations. The movie does not actually reveal anything profound though. All of this just leaves the audience in anticipation for the next movie which they may or may not see.
The conversations between Christian and Anastasia are supposed to be intense, but I just found it bland. This could either be the fault of the acting or the writing. The sex scenes were creative and different each time which kept the audience engaged.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” has stirred controversy because of Christian’s sexual dominance. Most of the plot, however, focuses on Christian trying to gain Anastasia’s consent to be submissive. He never forces her to do anything. I would recommend actually seeing the film before criticizing it for this reason.
The highlight of the movie though was the soundtrack which features music by Ellie Goulding, Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Sia, and Skylar Grey. Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” is currently the #2 song on iTunes, and “Earned It” by The Weeknd is #4. These highlighted songs were played during the sex scenes.
I would recommend for someone to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” just so they can see what all the buzz is about. It is not necessarily a bad movie, but it is not good either. I would have been just as satisfied with buying the soundtrack on iTunes instead because the soundtrack does not end with a cliffhanger.
For those who wish to see the sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker,” production has been delayed because E.L. James will be writing the screenplay. She was only a writing consultant for Fifty Shades of Grey, so it will be compelling to see if her personally composed screenplay will improve the franchise on its next attempt.
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