Fifty Shades of Greatness
By Mike LaPorte
Live Wire Marketing/Advertising Director
The headline is a bold-face lie. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has been the most over-hyped movie since its release on February 13. While it sets records for films that opened on Valentine’s Day weekend, in terms of the box office sales, the plot of the movie completely detracts from this.
For instance, compare “Fifty Shades” with the movie “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” When “Star Wars” was being made, everyone became excited beyond belief. After its release, people walked out of the theater feeling disappointed and confused. This is exactly how I felt about “Fifty Shades” because it happened to be a huge disappointment. When you make a movie that’s based on a book that’s based on a fantasy romance, that being Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, you will get this exact result: incredible box office success, but a terrible movie.
The movie received lots of attention because of the reputation that surrounds the book it was based on by E.L. James. If you get caught reading the book in a Barnes & Noble or a library, you could come under some scrutiny for reading it. For instance, celebrities were caught reading the book by a crowd of paparazzi and were then slammed by some tabloid media for reading it as they were questioned mercilessly about their sex lives.
Without getting too far into it, the plot is as follows. A college senior, Anastasia “Ana” Steele, who is played by Dakota Johnson, is graduating soon and receives an opportunity to interview telecommunications mogul Christian Grey, who is played by Jamie Dornan, in place of her roommate who is ill. By doing so, she has taken an interest in him and he has taken an interest in her. He reveals to her that he’s not the romantic type and he’s all about really rough sex because it gives him power and dominance. They inadvertently fall in love and he tries to introduce the BDSM (Bondage & Discipline / Domination & Submission / Sadism & Masochism) lifestyle to her, but since she’s actually a virgin, he doesn’t rush her into it and her thoughts are scattered all over the place for the rest of the movie.
The dialogue in the beginning is awful and forced. There are too many obvious clichés, including unnecessary lip bites and Ana literally falling flat on her face as she enters Christian’s office. The romance is horribly awkward, likely because of the BDSM element, and Johnson, while really good looking, seems monotone most of the film.
Dornan’s face isn’t the face I’d put on a girl’s dream guy. He just looks geeky, as if he was “that kid” you knew from middle school. From the trailer, it was kind of hard to believe right from the get-go that this guy is a total sex freak. He just doesn’t look like one. If looks were the only thing that mattered in casting, I think Johnson was cast better, even though her monotone delivery was clearly evident. As far as acting goes between the two, I’ll give the upper hand to Dornan. He may not look like a dominatrix, but his acting was better than Johnson’s. He’s also from Northern Ireland, so he put on a fake American accent during the whole movie and he did an excellent job.
A strong point in the movie, which had less to do with the movie and more to do with the hype surrounding it, was the soundtrack. And no, I’m not talking about the score by Danny Elfman. I’m talking about songs like “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding and “Earned It” by The Weeknd. The former has been playing on terrestrial radio for the last month, and the latter has been on satellite radio for quite some time and will be on F.M. Radio soon enough. The original songs are amazing and the movie can’t detract from that.
Now, this is what people go to the movie and read the book for: the sex scenes. There are quite a few, so many, in fact, that seeing Dakota Johnson getting naked gets kind of old. I went from “OK, so I expected this, let’s just finally see it,” to “Really? Again? How many times has it been now?” Also, the marks on Dornan’s chest, which I’m assuming were makeup, were kind of off-putting. As for the actual sex, it was kind of boring to watch. Everything from when Ana loses her virginity to when she gets tied up five times was just purely boring.
So what did I like about the movie? I liked it when Ana walked out on Christian at the end. I liked the cinematography. I liked hearing Ellie Goulding’s beautiful voice in the middle of the film. I liked it when it was over and the credits rolled. While it did get old after six times, I liked seeing Dakota Johnson naked, but that’s really it. Nothing that had to do with the plot of the movie or the actual sexual intercourse was any good, and I walked out of the movie theater feeling confused. It was hard to drive home because of how hard I had to process what I had just seen. The best way to criticize this movie is just by saying “no.” It’s wrong on so many levels, from a writing standpoint and my own personal moral standpoint.
If, however, you insist on seeing it, only go with someone you’re comfortable with. This is not a dating movie unless you and your partner have reached that level of intimacy and are willing to try things like what’s shown in the movie. This is also not a movie for a few friends to go see together. Intimate partners only. Otherwise, go alone. You will feel much less awkward around your friends because you can just tell them what happened. If you do go, sit as far away from other people as possible, that also detracts from the awkward vibe in the auditorium.