BEIRUT: Never in the history of cinema has a trilogy ever done a nosedive towards oblivion as steeply as the 50 Shades films.
Based upon the erotic book series written by E. L. James, the 50 Shades trilogy hasn’t had the smoothest of journeys on the silver screen: clashes on set, director switch-a-roo’s, and two decent actors who seem to have zero chemistry, with each film’s collection of music tracks being the trilogy’s only saving grace.
The final and utterly anti-climactic entry, pun entirely intended, is quite possibly the worst of all three films.
Starting with the film’s narrative, screenwriter Niall Leonard inscribes a terrible, on the nose, heavy-handed screenplay that does not do justice to any of its characters.
When one considers the characters created by E. L. James outside of what was done with them within the trilogy, they are quite intriguing and filled with massively great narrative opportunities. Yet for some odd reason, this is not evident at all in the screenplay.
Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, is portrayed as two-dimensional and at times even childish. A man who is supposed to be an affluent businessman, the true definition of an alpha male with a deep complex is shown in certain scenes as a young boy throwing a fit, the complete opposite of attractive and desired male.
In a world that would rather attack rich men, and white no less, the character of Christian Grey becomes the perfect target for attack and hate.
This is, in fact, a misstep from Leonard who more than likely attempted to filter one of the most politically incorrect characters in order not to trigger an audience member who currently even finds James Bond offensive.
Another missed opportunity for a politically incorrect female character to be exhibited on-screen, Anastasia Steele, portrayed by Dakota Johnson, is the complete carbon copy of Bella Swan, one of the worst female characters in cinema.
She is a character that wants to have a “man” in her life, and also wants to have her own identity and career, which is a rare archetype to see on screen nowadays, and this kind of character could have engaged with many women who are similar in that aspect.
The supporting cast of characters is downright irrelevant.
Jack Hyde, played by Eric Johnson, is the only character that is even the least bit interesting. Johnson gives it his all and plays the vengeful character to fullest of what he is given in the screenplay.
Every single character should have been pushed further over the edge towards this climax, with the screenwriter ignoring the safe word.
This film and more importantly the film’s flatlining dialogue is the result of the ever fearful, crowd-pleasing, unoriginal Hollywood that seems to be forming.
50 Shades Freed’s problems don’t end with the narrative.
Cinematographically speaking the film doesn’t do anything new or daring, objectifying its two leads at every turn and using basic primetime soap-opera techniques.
The film’s editing techniques are also quite average, lacking any creative transitions and juxtapositions.
However, the parallel intercut sequence where Anastasia sits in her office and remembers a red room endeavor with Christian as it builds and is interrupted by her assistant walking in works though still unoriginal.
Nothing about the score is cinematic, as Danny Elfman channels music that belongs in an episode of the Bold and the Beautiful or even an episode of the now-canceled Revenge.
These books were better suited for the small screen on a cable network and handled with a much better direction and vision. Where the films had lackluster characters, a serialized version of this narrative could have delivered all the layers that exist within the literal version of the characters.
Thankfully, the films are now over and audiences have been liberated from the Greys, albeit without a pleasurable climax.
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