Brow Beat

Here’s What Critics Have to Say About Fifty Shades Darker

Reviewers gave Jamie Dornan a thorough verbal flogging.

Doane Gregory/Universal Studios

The critics have spoken on Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to BDSM-flavored romance Fifty Shades of Grey, and what they’re saying is: Yikes. The new film, based on E. L. James’ book of the same name, made some major changes after its predecessor’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, allegedly clashed with the books’ author over creative differences. But critics don’t seem too impressed by the movie’s new director, James Foley, nor the screenplay penned by James’ husband, Niall Leonard, nor Jamie Dornan, who plays lead Christian Grey, nor … you know what, let’s just read some reviews, shall we?

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Reviewers are not charmed by the film’s leading man.

Stephanie Zacharek, Time:

“Dornan is just a dud. The problem may have more to do with the conception of the character than anything else: How do you play a self-described sadist who’s really just a misunderstood cuddlebunny underneath? Not even Olivier could do it. (Or maybe he did, if you count Heathcliff.) But Dornan, with his brooding frat-boy demeanor, seems to sap energy away from Johnson, an appealing performer who has some of her mother’s saucy dazzle.”

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Stephen Whitty, NJ.com:

“Dakota Johnson tries hard—or, at least harder than Jamie Dornan, who mostly acts with his stubble.”

Tom Gliatto, People:

“Dornan remains puzzling: How could he be the world’s most magnetic serial killer on The Fall, and yet so uncomfortable in the comparatively run-of-the-mill role of a wealthy sadist? In many moments he looks as if he wished he could just tiptoe away and let some other actor with a similarly flawless mouth, nose and brow step in. Henry Cavill, maybe.”

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Andrew Lapin, NPR:

“Dornan remains as charismatic as an ironing board.”

The sex scenes are more vanilla than you might expect.

Catherine Shoard, The Guardian:

“A few leather cuffs do pop up, but they’re unbuckled fast so the missionary position can be better adopted. Nipple clamps put in an appearance, but only on fingers.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

“Ana calls Christian’s desires ‘kinky fuckery,’ but where the hell is it? Confronted with Christian’s Red Room of Pain, Ana can only gaze at the array of whips and chains and wonder, ‘Does the maid dust in here?’”

Robbie Collin, Telegraph:

“It’s an alleged 18-rated, adults-only filth-fest that behaves like a flustered PG. “

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In fact, the whole movie is a bit of a snooze …

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Geoffrey Macnab, the Independent:

Fifty Shades Darker is an ordeal to watch not because of its gothic eroticism but because of its utter blandness. The film would surely have benefited from being gaudier, more kitsch and transgressive.”

Liz Braun, the Toronto Sun:

“Not to put too fine a point on this or anything, but Fifty Shades Darker, sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, is very boring. Very, very boring.

Very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, boring, actually.”

Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine:

“They should’ve called this one The Fifty Times I Yawned.”

… when it doesn’t have audiences in stitches, that is.

Stephanie Merry, Washington Post:

“Christian does offer, at least, a lot of unintentional comedy, such as when he walks away from a helicopter crash with nothing more than an artfully torn T-shirt or when the billionaire playboy does his morning workout routine on his . . . is that a pommel horse?”

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Alex Abad-Santos, Vox:

Fifty Shades Darker wants to turn you on. Instead, it will make you cackle.”

Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune:

“[I]t’s hard to find anything all that arousing when laughing this hard. The second installment, Fifty Shades Darker, is pure camp. Audiences will be in ecstasy alright—from hysterical laughter. While decidedly not a comedy, there are times when you have to wonder if the film is in on the joke.”

Honestly, you should probably just go see something else.

Chris Hunneysett, the Mirror:

“If you want to watch a movie about a billionaire playboy with a penchant for darkness, inflicting violence and dressing up in masks, you’re far better off seeing The Lego Batman Movie.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

“What an incredibly, indelibly idiotic movie.”

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