Movie Review: Fifty Shades Freed Fizzles

Movie Review: Fifty Shades Freed Fizzles
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Since the Fifty Shades franchise began on screen in 2015, the films have failed to deliver much excitement or entertainment for audiences aside from fans of the original book series. So unsurprisingly, many disappointing qualities remain exactly the same for the series conclusion Fifty Shades Freed. There’s absolutely no originality.

Everything annoying and hilariously awful about the first two movies Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker continues on. Director James Foley’s new obsession with optimism and cutesy tones occasionally make it even worse.

The Fifty Shades finale finds newlyweds Anastasia Steele (now Ana Grey, played by Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) begin their new life together as a married couple. They’re learning to live as a committed pair instead of just themselves, but some unexpected challenges soon appear.

Does the plot sound vague? It’s hard to describe what else really happens without giving away the few (possibly) interesting events that happen at all. The series has never been known for smart plots or rich characters. And that’s not really what most audiences are hoping to see.

The only real “attraction” is the stark, heavily commercialized sensuality and tightly edited sex scenes between Ana and Christian. Sadly, these scenes too are the same as those from its predecessors. (With the exception of one creative use of an ice cream spoon.)

Photo: Universal Pictures

Every other sex scene plays out exactly the same: An indistinguishable techno-pop song plays in the background. Ana gets completely naked before Christian undoes his first button. He goes on top and keeps control for the entire session. This formula is just as uninteresting as it was in last year’s second installment.

The horrendous screenplay by novel author E. L. James is both insincere and missing any shred of realism like it always has. The characters of Ana and Christian haven’t changed much, and it lends to little new interest.

He’s still controlling, she’s meekly selfish, and they’re both wildly insecure. Christian earnestly asks early on, “Do you love me?”. When Ana replies “I love you,” he asks “Then why do you defy me?”. If the couple was truly “Freed” as the title suggests, they should be working as a more effective team.

By the end, however, they do make some considerable progress. Both of them get better at sharing each other’s thoughts and ideas together; these conversations show the sweeter side of Ana and Christian. And strangely, they’re far more interesting to watch than seeing them get cozy with each other.

Freed misses what made Fifty Shades famous – and not in a good way.

Don’t, however, think it’s improved too much. While Christian’s jealousy sometimes inspires him, it no longer controls him. The problem is he still feels his masked lack of confidence far too often.

The clunky story also isn’t helped by a parade of awkward scenes and encounters. There’s a painfully obvious scene over dinner that foreshadows the twist ending, and there’s so much focus on a silly villain character the false danger feels stupid. (It isn’t helped halfway through by the lamest car chase scene in cinematic history.)

Photo: Universal Pictures

Even having seen the previous two movies, it’s a hopeless task remembering all the character’s names and who or why they matter. There are no reintroductions, so if you haven’t seen either film (or seen them recently) you’ll have a hard time following who’s who. This genre of easy filmgoing shouldn’t require any homework to enjoy or understand what’s going on.

The most astonishing thing about Fifty Shades Freed is how overly clean and tightly controlled production was. It boasts an enormous budget making what’s nearly a cloned copy of the first two movies in the series. Freed is a movie without any reason for existing.

The anti-climactic finale is similar to the end of the Twilight franchise. Both are depressing romances set in Seattle filled with clichés and shallow subplots. Oddly enough, many of the fans from Twilight in 2008 might share much of the same fan base for Fifty Shades in 2018.

Leaving my screening, there were only two other members of the audience: two friends named Sarah and Maggie, having a girl’s night out. Sarah thought it was slow. Maggie wisely observed, “there’s almost no sex in it.” Both said it was the worst film of the trilogy.

It may not be the worst Fifty Shades movie, but it is the least interesting. The only thing that may finally be freed is the audiences from Mr. and Mrs. Grey’s thin appeal.

Fifty Shades Freed
1 1/2 out of 4 stars

18A, 1hr 45mins. Romance Epic.
Directed by James Foley.
Starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.

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