REVIEW: “Fifty Shades Freed”

Fifty Shades | Youtube

Jonathan Montague, Staff Writer

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Fan fiction has become one of the most popular ways for a fan community to express affection for their franchise. They can become the narrator to the lives of their favorite characters doing everything they ever wanted them to do. One such fan of the “Twilight” series was Erika Mitchell who, under the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon”, wrote Master of the Universe, which would become the basis for the “Fifty Shades” trilogy. These books have garnered heavy criticism for its characters and poor depictions of BDSM among other things. While I have not read the book, said criticisms can be extended to the film franchise they are based on. And now, I am here to review the thankfully final chapter in this film trilogy, “Fifty Shades Freed.”

As our main characters Ana and Christian celebrate their new marriage, they consider their future and the possibility of building a family together. However, their past comes back to haunt them in the worst way when Jack Hyde, an former enemy, begins stalking Ana. His rivalry with Christian meets its boiling point as he goes to drastic measures to destroy the people who ruined his life. Meanwhile, Anna and Christian have a lot of boring sex.

On paper, the plot of this movie should work. While cliché and formulaic, it possesses what the first two should have had to begin with: conflict! There are events in this movie that legitimately threaten the lives of the characters involved. Certain elements of the series are reused to further character revelations. Where the movie fails is in the execution of its story.

First of all, the characters are still either uninteresting, or interesting for all of the wrong reasons. Christian is still a possessive control freak, although somewhat toned down in this version in order to show Ana’s effect on him. Ana, on the other hand, is one of the most bland, mundane, self-inserted characters I have ever seen. She does not develop in any meaningful way throughout the franchise. They make certain decisions that leave you wondering why any of this has to happen. Even now, they have no chemistry to speak of and you do not care about their relationship. Jack Hyde as the villain seems like he might be intimidating — that is, until you give his plan, methods or motivation even the slightest bit of conscious thought, at which point he falls apart completely.

This movie has no idea what tension is. Scenes that should be tense and treated with gravitas suffer from bizarre direction choices that diffuse all emotion that should be there. And the sex scenes do nothing to advance the story. In fact, they shove in six or so sex scenes, none of which possess an ounce of believable sensuality, and they do nothing but halt the movie’s pacing entirely. One such scene was so bafflingly idiotic in its placement and execution that I simply could not care about any events that followed, even considering certain plot points that came to light earlier.

They try to inject some suspense into the end of the movie, but it is resolved too quickly to make the audience feel anything. In that fashion, they set up a subplot that you think will run throughout the movie only to resolve it mere minutes later. Nothing holds any weight in this movie and it just ends up being boring.

Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele (I still hate that name) gives a halfway decent performance, which is more than I can say for her co-star Jamie Dornan. His performance is more akin to a cardboard cutout, and you do not believe his emotions for a second. The movie hinges on their performances, and they are past the point of caring. Both clearly want to be done with these movies and I cannot blame them. As for Eric Johnson, he hams it up as the villain and does about as well as Johnson, even with how terrible his character is written.

With a brighter color palette than the first movie, the film can look pretty from time to time, but manages to look generic and boring even with the nice scenery. The score sounds like Danny Elfman’s forgotten drafts, preferring to use an ungodly amount of pop songs that you won’t remember five minutes after they stop playing.

Let me be clear. Avoid “Fifty Shades Freed” like the plague. It has nothing to offer worthwhile to offer for fans of the books or casual fans of the movie. From my understanding, it is supposedly still better than its book. Somehow, I believe that to be true.