Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Fifty Shades Freed
Awwwww, the rags to riches story. We all love the underdogs right? Those stories of a plucky author writing a smash hit that suddenly shoots them to a multi book deal and then the movie rights are sold, and the person is the darling of EVERYONE in the film and literary world. Well, the 50 Shades of Grey series is kind of like the perverted horror story version of that tale. E.L. James was a veritable nobody, writing erotic Twilight fan fiction when suddenly she found out her work was getting popular. Switching the names around so as not to gain copyright infringement legal issues, she adapted her Twilight erotica into something completely….the same. Except instead of Edward and Bella it’s Christian and Anastasia Steele (seriously? Is this a Harlequin romance novel?). So she wrote a book titled 50 Shades of Grey, which ended up being a horribly written book (I forced myself to read it to find out what all of the hullabaloo was about), edited even more poorly, but somehow became an overnight sensation. 3 sequels later and the rights were inevitably sold to Universal for a trilogy of movies, and voila. This is what we have here.
I honestly have to give Fifty Shades Freed a modicum of respect for TRYING this go around. Fifty Shades of Grey was the ultimate drinking game movie, but the sequel only went downhill from there. Fifty Shades Darker tried to make itself some sultry thriller, with an ex-lover of Christian Showing up (played by Kim Basinger herself) with a threat to tear him and Anna apart in the next movie. Well, the next movie has come around with Christian (Jamie Dorman) and Anna (Melanie Griffith’s daughter, Dakota Johnson) tying the knot in front of hundreds of people. After saying their vows, Anna is now 100% a member of the Grey family, and that comes with all of the perks of living in a billionaire family. Swept off to their honeymoon, Anna soon finds out that Christian is still the same controlling guy that he always has been. Commanding her to do this, doing restrictive things for her protection, and generally being the same broken human being that he has been the last two films. Anna has gained some confidence though, and she puts Christian in his place more than once, which only excites his naughty BDSM desires even more.
The film takes a drastic change when the two realize that someone is after them. The servers at Christian’s corporation are broken into, they are followed by a mysterious woman and Christian has a little bit of a secret. He’s known that Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), the former boss of Anna’s that assaulted her in previous films, has been collecting data on the Grey family. Thus the mystery begins. Only, it’s not just a mystery. It’s a copious quantity of hilariously over the top sex scenes (which tries to make it seem like it’s some wild BDSM fantasy, when it’s actually rather vanilla), Christian throwing temper tantrums at everything Anna does, AND a surprise pregnancy that threatens to tear the newlyweds apart. All culminating in the “epic” showdown between Jack Hyde and our illustrious heroic couple.
This is where I actually find the biggest criticism of the film writing. Fifty Shades Freed is a movie that is constantly at odds with itself. It can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be a semi erotic film like the books were, whether it wants to be a full on crime thriller, or whether it wants to be a drama about Christian and Anna’s horrifically flawed relationship. The suffers badly at the hands of Niall Leonard (who happens to be E.L. James husband), with stilted dialog and painful direction by James Foley (who has directed all 3 films). Even the on screen chemistry between Dakota and Jamie is painful to watch, and if all rumors are to be believed, loathed each other so much that on screen work was like pulling teeth. The extended cut is actually the most interesting thing about the movie, as it actually CHANGES the movie in different ways due to different editing and shifting of scenes around. It’s in no way BETTER than the theatrical cut, but it does create a different film to watch if that’s your thing.
Now, my final point of the film. This has been a theme that I’ve harped on during my reviews of the 1st and 2nd movie, but it boggles my mind why this series has been fawned over so much by women. The series has been marketed as a slightly kinky date movie (coming out on Valentines Day) by Universal and I have heard MORE than a few women/mothers/girls raving about how they loved it as a kinky romance. The thing is, if Christian Grey wasn’t a hunky billionaire, then this movie would be a terror thriller as the man is a mentally abusive man who is shattered to the core of his being. Much of what he does comes off as abusive and angry, making you wonder just how the innocent Anna comes to love him. He’s got money, jets, style, and lots of sex appeal, but the way he treats her is just downright putrid, in my opinion. It’s not nearly as bad as it was in the 1st movie, but more so than the second film (which I thought softened his character a bit). If this was anyone else, women everywhere would be calling the cops on this guy and the film would be about this horrific monster instead of studly billionaire. While I don’t think that the film is some dangerous and subversive movie that is out to destroy women everywhere, I have noticed how many people have let their daughters go see it when the accidental subtext (I say accidental, because I firmly believe that E.L. James never intended to make Christian Grey this creepy. I think she wanted to create some BDSM masterpiece and with her minuscule grasp on the BDSM lifestyle crafted this character, thinking that’s what he’d be like) is quite disturbing. I feel like I must be in the minority considering how much money the franchise has made (almost a billion dollars based off of 150 million sunk in all three films), but I can’t help but feeling like too many people have glossed over the disturbing aspects of Anna’s and Christian’s relationship in the name of “romance”.
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, and language.
4K Video: Video:
• The Final Climax
• Christian & Ana by Jamie & Dakota
• A Conversation with E L James and Eric Johnson
• Music Videos
Luckily the series is FINALLY over (please, oh please, oh please don’t make the 4th book into a film), and I can breathe easy. While I want to say that the Fifty Shades series has been the worst series I’ve seen in the last decade, but I can’t say that with 100% honesty. There have been worse films. It’s just that it is the worst BLOCKBUSTER series I have seen in quite some time. The writing is abysmal, the subtext messages disturbing, but overall, this is a flash in the pan series that I don’t think will be remembered any more than the defunct Twilight series is remembered today. I personally can not in ANY way recommend Fifty Shades Freed (or the other 3), but for the fans of the film, I will say that the 4K UHD disc is a healthy upgrade over the Blu-ray and given some impressive specs. My recommendation is to forget that this movie even exists.
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Jamie Dorman, Eric Johnson
Directed by: James Foley
Written by: Niall Leonard (Screenplay), E.L. James (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS:X (DTS-HD MA 7.1 Core), French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS-HD HR 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Runtime: 105 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 8th, 2018
Recommendation: Forget it Exists