Thursday, February 12, 2015
50 Shades of Grey Review
But I don't want to see him.
There are some things in this world that I dread. I dread copious amounts of work and the fear that I will never have time to relax and unwind. I dread having to audition for theatre, film, and voice work. I dread the inevitable reality that eventually, I will die and that I have no idea what my legacy, if any, will be when I die. I have had the same amount of dread for this movie as all of those other fears. From the second it was announced, I was afraid that I would have to see 50 Shades of Grey. I was afraid that when this movie comes out, a movie based on a book that has become a punchline in modern culture, I would be forced to sit through it all. That day has come and ladies and gentlemen, I have some grave news for you. It's worse than I expected. It's one of the worst things I've ever seen in my life. Period.
Nothing in this movie works. Nothing. Usually I would at least try to look for some shining ray of hope in a movie, the silver lining to give some modicum of justification for going to see this movie. I thought that maybe the actors would make it worth wild, but I was wrong. Maybe it could be an example of how to do an adaptation right, but I was wrong again. Maybe it could be a movie that should be examined by future generations to understand why it was so bad, but I'm wrong yet again. This movie, plan and simple, is trash.
Our story revolves around Anastasia Steele, who falls in love for the playboy billionaire Christian Grey. Mr. Grey is a control freak who wants to control Ana's life, and is revealed to be a hardcore BDSM fanatic... or a sadist, whichever floats your boat. He spends the entire movie trying to convince Ana to become her sub and for him to be her dom, but Ana is at a moral quandary. She loves him, but does she love his sadism? Even when he goes to stalker lengths to keep her, is it all for love?
You know, here's an ironic little fact. This review, this very review, is my 50th movie review. I was going to spend the whole intro examining how far I've come since my very first review back in 2013, but that was spoiled by this movie. I guess it's fitting though. My 50th review is by far my greatest challenge. How do I review what is essentially porn? And make no mistake, this movie is very tame and tepid softcore porn. In fact, that's really the only thing that this movie has going for it.
50 Shades of Grey is being sold SOLELY on the fact that it's a easy porn for moms. When the book first came out, it was literally labeled as mommy porn. And to be fair. I can understand why it works for them on a psychological level. Christian Grey says his contract has a specific clause that states that his sub would only live with him on weekends and can never speak of it to anyone. What middle age woman wouldn't love escaping her family and everyday life every weekend to be with a rich billionaire who will treat her in a way she's never felt before. In theory, I understand that. Once you add Christian Grey's personality into this movie though, the illusion falls apart and we see Christian Grey as the man he is.
For you see, this movie features rape in it. It is not an easy thing to say, but Christian Grey forces himself into Anastasia's room, forces himself upon her, and has sex with her with tying her up and beating her. Look, you can dodge around the issue as much as you want, but Anastasia was raped in this movie. Repeatedly. Add on the fact that Christian Grey beats her when she disobeys him, and you have a purely abusive relationship. There is nothing sexy, sensual, or even kinky about abuse and rape. It just doesn't work. And before anyone DARES to say "But that's the basis of BDSM!", I will smack your mouth and force you to clean up the shit you just spewed all over the place. BDSM, whether you like it or not, is a sexual fetish based on violence and trust. A person can have sexual gratification from pain and torture, but the essence of BDSM is that you can trust your partner enough to take you into those dark areas. You are able to physically and emotionally bare your soul to your partner and go into the darkest of places, but you trust your partner can bring you back out of it. They can calm you down and remind you that you are safe when it's all over. 50 Shades of Grey has the violence, but none of the main characters exhibit any kind of trust in one another, so all we're left is a man beating and torturing a woman for his own pleasure, with the woman forced to go through it. Grey doesn't trust her enough, so he has no connection to Ana. Ana trusts him, but because of his mistrust of her, the abusive overtones dominates the BDSM scenes, forcing the audience to feel dirty and sick to our stomachs.
But let's put all of those problems aside for a moment. At it's core, this movie just does not work. Every singular aspects of this movie fails, but not in a fun or amusing way. It's just painful to sit through. The chemistry between Ana and Grey is nonexistent. The two of them are played so plain and so boring that any chemistry is gone. They never once exhibit love, kindness, or even pleasure from what they do. The man who plays Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan, is just terrible. He never emotes, speaks like a human, and is so stilted that I'm surprised he has flexible movement. For quite some time, I was certain that he was one of those life sized sex dolls, just strung up like a puppeteer. Ana's actress, Dakota Johnson, fairs a bit better, actually displaying human emotions, but they're so rare that you'd hardly notice. At least those moments exist though!
Then you have the script. Dear God this writing is terrible. Every single line is plain, simple, and to the point. When you have Christian Grey spouting questions like an employee at the DMV, you're doing something wrong. Then you have just unsalvageable lines like "I'm 50 Shades of f***ed up", the script has failed. The writing has failed. You know it's bad when the actual book has better dialogue than this movie. Just imagine that for a minute. The writers could have literally taken lines of dialogue from the book and called it a day, but instead, they dumbed down the script to something that would fit right at home in a middle school play. You had the easiest job in the world! Take the book, cut out line so dialogue, and you're set! Instead, they done f***ed up.
All of the other characters don't matter in the slightest. The only characters that matter are Grey and Ana, with other characters appearing and disappearing without a trace. We meet friends, parents, siblings, and other characters, but they're quickly forgotten just as quickly as they appeared. Why have these characters if they add nothing to the plot. Ana's father is useless, Christian's siblings and parents have no purpose, and Ana's friend are only really involved in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. The sad part is is that I know that these characters have a more significant part in the first book. Do you know why? BECAUSE I LEARNED ALL ABOUT THESE CHARACTERS AND THEY'RE STORIES IN THE F***ING MUSICAL PARODY!!! When the parody is more faithful to the source material than the movie, just quit.
And you know what, I'll just come right out and say this. If this movie went balls to the wall, and I mean NC-17, hardcore porn action, then even though I'd hate the movie, I'd probably be more fair to it. I mean, how can I really make ethical and moral arguments about porn? It's porn. Leave your ethics at the door. But because this movie is rated R, we still get the brutal scenes in Christian Grey's Red Room, but they're incredibly tepid. Anastasia is lightly beaten in there, tied up occasionally, and is at worst, flailed at with a small whip. There's never anything hard or dangerous in it. It's safe enough to show in theatres, but weak enough to be underwhelming. There's not even a single ball gag in this movie. An iconic item in BDSM culture is not shown at all in this movie. Instead, we get a weak attempt at BDSM that leaves no one satisfied. It's a halfhearted handjob; yeah you get sexual pleasure, but it's not good for anyone at the end of the day.
But then you get to the ending. This ending is by far one of the worst, cheapest and most insulting endings I've ever seen. It's worse than the ending to The Sopranos that cuts out in mid sentence. It ends on a very intense scene (intense by the movie's standards, yet it still leaves me uncomfortable), followed by two minutes of fallout, before a cut to black that lasts for five seconds. Then the credits rolled. My jaw dropped. I was in awe. This movie ended on a non-ending and left room for the now confirmed sequels to expand upon. 50 Shades of Grey sequel baits you. I stood up in my theatre, turned around to the three college girls behind me and said to them "THIS IS BULLSHIT" before storming out of the theatre. I thought that movie was bad, but that ending was the homerun. It beat me. I could not deal with it anymore. I left the theatre and kicked a giant pile of snow. I just wailed on it in an attempt to calm myself down. And you know what? My friend joined me. We both needed to let out all off our steam about this movie, and by God did we do it. We let all of our hatred and bile out, leaving us with just a sense of pure and utter despair.
And so here we are. I'm sitting at my desk, frantically typing this review away, and all I can think of is one simple thing; I'm not going to give this movie a rating. The more I think about this movie, the more I come back to the fact that this movie is disposable beyond all comparison. Ethically it's repulsive, the actors fail at their jobs, the writing is awful, and nothing in this movie works. It's mealy mouth garbage that's too scared to go hard, yet too soft to be noteworthy. This movie, by all accounts, is trash. It's garbage. It deserves to be thrown out and forgotten before it stinks up the world. It will leave a putrid smell that will infect anyone that comes across, it leaving them heaving and feeling dirty and disgusting. This movie is shameless porn. Even porn deserves some merit sometimes, if only based on the fact that you can get a sexual thrill from it. Here, there is no thrill. There is no arousal. There is no fantasy. All there is is shame.
I will not give this movie a score. I've explained in plenty detail why this movie deserves all of the bile and hatred I can muster. I don't classify this as entertainment. I classify this movie as being beyond all comparison. If porn is the lowest a director and actor can sink to, then there is no recovery from 50 Shades of Grey. I say this with all of my heart. Say what you will about my opinion, my status, or me as a person. Do not see this movie. I implore you not to. For the love of God, don't see this movie. It is a black hole. You have been warned. I will not rate this movie. Let the void below the poster show it's quality. It's emptiness incarnate. It is anti-life. It is 50 Shades of Grey. Go home, hug your loved ones, and don't ever let a day go by without telling them you love them. Happy 50th movie review everyone