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'Fifty Shades Darker' should be called Fifty Shades Duller (Review)

Ladies, if your man took you to see Fifty Shades Darker for Valentine's Day please do not question his undying love for you. In order to make you happy he put himself through two hours of tortuous boredom that breezes through faux conflict and a ridiculously thin plot. Despite the film's attempts, no amount of sex can make this worthwhile to watch.  Men, and probably most women, will find themselves rejoicing when this movie is over.

The sequel picks up a short time after where the previous Fifty Shades of Grey ended. Anastasia is working in a publishing house in Seattle after graduating and breaking things off with Christian due to his sadism. In a weird twist, Anastasia is attending a photo exhibition by her friend Jose, only to find that most of the exhibits are wall sized portraits of herself. This starts the trend of the movie portraying every male character as a creep who oversteps their boundaries with her.

Of course Christian shows up and buys all of the pictures and pleads with Anastasia to go to dinner with him. She begrudgingly agrees, but only because "she's hungry." This is the beginning of another reoccurring trend in the movie, Anastasia putting up token resistance before Christian eventually gets his way. Obviously, after talking over dinner she agrees to take him back. When a sexy billionaire is throwing himself at you in repentance who among us could turn that down?  Still, there is little to be offered by the ease in which he wins her back.

Remember when I said the movie has a reoccurring trend of creepy men overstepping their boundaries? Enter Anastasia's boss, Jack Hyde, whose venereal leering suggests he might as well have "sexual harasser" tattooed on his forehead. After offering drinks to her, but being denied due to "plans,"  somehow they end up at a bar anyways. Eventually Christian shows up and a standoff ensues, portending a future clash. More on that later.

The movie attempts to rattle things up by introducing Elena Lincoln, the older woman who introduced Christian to the S&M lifestyle. She warns Anastasia that  their "love" is doomed to fail because of his sadistic ways but she fails in causing any real trouble between them. Another attempt to shake things up falls flat when one of Christian's psycho exes stalks Anastasia and shows up at her house with a gun. The scene turns eerily bizarre when Christian is able to subdue her like a pet. Afterwards, Anastasia frets over the fact that she'll never be able to offer him that level of submission. However, this faux conflict passes over easily as Christian uses this opportunity to ask her hand in marriage. After token resistance she eventually says yes.

After a pitiful attempt for suspense with Christians helicopter going down over Portland, the movie ends on a bright note with the couple celebrating their engagement. However, the movie sets the stage for the villain of the upcoming third installment, Jack Hyde. Remember him? The creepy leering boss. Naturally he attempted to sexually harass Anastasia, (gasp....really? That's so surprising) got fired and will now be seeking revenge in the final movie of this trilogy that cannot end fast enough.

Save for a few humorous moments, which is much more than the predecessor, this sequel is painstakingly flat and brainless. The plot eschews such things as logic, motivation, narrative cohesion and instead just gives us sex and overbearing men. Bleh. One might be better off watching two hours of soft core porn, which is exactly what Fifty Shades Darker ends up feeling like.

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