By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1 Star (Out of 4 Stars)

With the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, uninitiated movie audiences were introduced to the courtship and “romance” between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, while fans of the book series were able to see their beloved characters brought to life.  As for me, a film critic who fell into the uninitiated category, I found the story and character development lacking and the eroticism similar to late night Cinemax soft core porn.  Two years later, the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, hit movie screens and gave audiences a movie that is a tad more interesting with a similar brand of erotica and further development of its lead characters.  Though the writers and filmmakers attempt to offer a more intriguing and suspenseful story, everything comes across as a laughable soap opera with a silly, over-the-top villain.  One year later, the fans’s highly anticipated conclusion to the trilogy has arrived and promises an exciting “climax.”  Unfortunately, everything about this film feels butchered and rushed. Also, the wastes too much time to barely go anywhere with its story.

After the events of the previous film, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) get married and go on their honeymoon.  Their lovely vacation comes to an abrupt end when Grey gets alerted that someone has tried to sabotage his business with an explosive device.  Upon returning home, Grey must deal with this alarming situation, while Ana returns to her job at a publishing company where she has been put in charge.  Both Christian and Anastasia have to adjust to the compromises of marriage, but the biggest threat to their relationship comes in the form of Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Anastasia’s former boss who lost his job due to his harassment and assault of her.  Hyde seeks revenge on both newlyweds, as he blames them for destroying his life.

Written by Niall Leonard (based on the novel by E.L. James) and directed by James Foley, Fifty Shades Freed‘s so-called exciting “climax” proves to be a major dud and is about as entertaining as spying on people during their honeymoon.  I suppose if one is into that, then this movie will definitely please, but I found myself bored, disinterested, and not invested in these characters whatsoever.  To be fair, I’ve never had much of an investment in these characters, but at least the filmmakers of the first two films tried to make the stories intriguing and entertaining.  This particular installment is rather dull,, has barely any meat to its story, and has little to no tension or suspense.  To sum up this film, it gives audiences the bare bones of a story occasionally interrupted by multiple sex scenes.  The movie attempts to offer a few surprises, but most of these can be easily predicted. The whole thing comes across as a film that goes through the motions with the sole obligation of finally wrapping up the story with little muss or fuss.

Even the actors seem to be phoning in their performances in most of the scenes.  Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson share an adequate and credible chemistry and seem to direct most of their energy to their sex scenes, despite the fact that these erotic sequences have nothing new to offer.  Though Eric Johnson gives a memorably over-the-top performance in the previous movie, the actor has much less screen time in this installment.  Johnson gets to snack on a little scenery, but it seems like the director has him on a strict scenery diet.  Much of the original cast returns, save for Kim Basinger whose character (Elena Lincoln) is apparently still around, but is only mentioned.  I am not sure if she actually filmed some scenes which were cut, or if she had no interest in re-appearing.  As for all the rest of the cast, it feels like they only appeared to fulfill their contractual obligations to this franchise which will probably end with this movie.

Thus, the Fifty Shades saga has come to an end (hopefully), and though fans might be sad to see everything come to an end, I am sure there are film critics that feel freed from the obligation of reviewing any more of these movies.  I do get the feeling that devoted fans will be disappointed with this film, as it has the least amount of dramatic intrigue and the weakest love scenes of all of them.  The fans of the books will certainly be disappointed with all of the story material omitted to give the movie a shorter run time.  I only know that much has been left out because I read the online “Cliff Note” synopsis.  Though this material wouldn’t have added more to the quality of the overall film, it at least has more interesting subplots than what actually ended up in the theatrical version.  Maybe if enough fans express disapproval of this movie, then it won’t only be the critics throwing shade on Fifty Shades

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