Movie Review: “Fifty Shades of Grey” – I Feel Wronged

Written by Jesse Gelinas February 15, 2015

Ana gets her first taste of the submissive lifestyle in "Fifty Shades of Grey"

To my knowledge, this is how E.L. James and Sam Taylor-Johnson got funding for the film.

“Odd doesn’t cover it.”

Sit back, children, and I shall tell you a tale. The tale of Snowqueen’s Icedragon. This is not a wondrous tale of mysticism and adventure, no. This is a story about a “writer” who loved Twilight books. She loved Twilight books so much she decided they needed to be reworked a bit. So, she went the obvious route. What if instead of a quiet, quirky high-schooler, Bella was a quiet, quirky college student? And what if, instead of a sparkly vampire, Edward was a twisted sadistic billionaire who got off on beating women? I know, my nethers are already tingling. Well, Snowqueen’s Icedragon wrote down her vision, and Master of the Universe was born. Fast forward a couple years, and Snowqueen’s Icedragon (not her real name) became E.L. James (also not her real name). And Master of the Universe became Fifty Shades of Grey. And now, there’s a movie.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” follows… ugh, Anastasia Steele, the ultimate Mary-Sue and all-American 21-year old virgin college student. Anastasia (seriously, do any of you know anyone named Anastasia?) fills in for her journalism major roommate to interview Christian Grey… because a slight case of the sniffles would stop a wannabe reporter from meeting one of the richest and most famous men in the world. Anastasia and Christian want each other immediately, and Grey soon goes on the offensive, American Psycho style. Stalking, coercion, physical intimidation, breaking-and-entering, nothing’s too schmaltzy for this 27-year old billionaire. Yeah, billionaire. You never really know what he does, or how he became so amazing, or why no one really talks about how ridiculously rich he is. But he is. Move on. We soon learn Grey wants Steele (these names are ridiculous) to sign a contract to be his sex slave, yada yada yada, Beyoncé sings Crazy In Love, and we get more than a few unsettling “love” scenes.

“I know where you are. I’m coming to get you.”

Putting aside the fact that we’re discussing a sub-par writer’s sex-crazed fan-fiction based on another sub-par writer’s awful sex-crazed romance fantasies, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is still quite terrible. Director Taylor-Johnson set out to put E.L. James’s vision on the big screen. Unfortunately for her, she succeeded. A positive result was never really in the cards. You could hand this thing to James Cameron, you’re still dealing with the worst love story since… well, “Twilight,” I guess.

Symbolism abounds in "Fifty Shades of Grey"

This is called symbolism. Subtle, huh?

Whoever cast this flick should be fired. While Dakota Johnson is not without her charm, she’s flat and uninteresting as Mary-Sue Steele. Sorry, I mean Anastasia. Jamie Dornan, best known for his stint on TV’s “Once Upon A Time” is quite boring as well. What this amounts to is 2 hours of watching a pair of insufferable bores pretend to be into each other. There is so little chemistry, even during the freaky sexy bits, that you just find it impossible to care. I suppose it’s worth mentioning that neither actor was the first, or even third choice for Steele and Grey. I believe this speaks to both the quality of the “Fifty Shades” script, as well as the artistic integrity of several Hollywood actors.

“I’m fifty shades of fucked up.”

Speaking of the sex scenes, they are long and they are many. And while you can tell they were handled carefully, and crafted meticulously, it all just fails. You can tell the director expected at least for you to walk away thinking “Those sex scenes were tastefully done.” They are not. While the more graphic scenes from the book (including the infamous tampon yanking) were left out of the adaptation, what remains is boring, unengaging, and yet somehow still incredibly unsettling lovemaking. Of course, according to Mr. Grey, he doesn’t make love. He fucks. Hard. It’s not even a remotely accurate portrayal of a Dom/Sub scenario. So, we have neither the sensuality of a mainstream blockbuster, nor the nitty-gritty realism of an Oscar-bait drama. Instead, we have over-stylized soccer-mom porn. Right down to the part where Grey leaves after deflowering Steele to go play piano in the dark.

"Fifty Shades of Grey"

I like how this billionaire puts on his grunge jeans when it’s whipping time.

So, aside from the bad acting, wooden dialogue, horrid sex scenes, and questionable soundtrack, “Fifty Shades of Grey” still moves at a snail’s pace. Just… nothing happens. They meet, she mumbles, he acts creepy, they bang. And then it happens again, and then a couple more times. And whenever Anastasia doesn’t want to bang, Grey just throws money at her (buying her a car, chartering a private plane, etc) until she does. I’m sure there’s a word for that.

The entire plot revolves around a sex contract, and she never even signs it. Eventually she asks him to give her a good working over (to see how bad life with him can be, smart), and in the end, she walks. Scratch that, she runs for the door. And then credits. The movie doesn’t so much end as it just sorta… stops, solidifying the 2 hours you just wasted.

“Find anal-fisting. Strike it out. Vaginal-fisting too.”

So, if you’re hoping for a romantic night with the love of your life, and all the restaurants are closed, and it’s too cold for a romantic walk in the park, and the movies are really starting to look like the place to go, don’t. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not a love story. It is not a character study. It’s barely a drunk’s sex joke. It’s an exploration into the mind of a wannabe writer who wants to see herself as a young, pure virginal Madonna. And who wants nothing more than for a young, ripped billionaire to come along and choke her into submission by any means necessary. So, tell me I don’t get it. Tell me this film is somehow empowering. Tell me it’s the sexual awakening for a generation. But truth be told, this flick is a lot closer to a sex crime.

 My Rating: 0.5/10

Poster for "Fifty Shades of Grey"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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