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50 shades of disappointment

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Marley Parish, Features Editor

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Mr. Grey will see you now in “50 Shades Darker,” the sequel to “50 Shades of Grey.” Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return to the screen as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the erotic drama-romance. Directed by James Foley, the film is sure to leave fans wanting more.

“I want you back. We can renegotiate terms,” Grey says to Steele.

Nothing says love like negotiating contracts.

Opening up Valentine’s Day weekend, “50 Shades Darker” follows the on-again, off-again relationship of Grey and Steele. Grey spends the beginning of the film trying to convince Steele to give him a second chance by buying six of her portraits from an art show — because he does not like it when others gawk at her — giving her an Apple laptop and iPhone and paying for an excessively expensive dinner. The couple’s relationship is totally and completely normal if you can forget about the enormous amounts of money Grey so often spends on Steele — or transfers directly into her bank account. Don’t worry — it does not at all feel as though he is attempting to purchase her though.

Amidst the extravagant balls and sexual escapades, Steele naïvely convinces herself that she can change Grey and entice him to open his heart to her by opening up about his past. It would not be a true love story if someone’s mission did not involve changing the other person, right?

Playing it off as Grey being a protective boyfriend, the couple’s “vanilla relationship” begins with Grey purchasing the company where Steele works, Seattle Independent Publishing. Grey forbids Steele from going on an overnight business trip to New York with her boss because he is apparently notorious for harassing his assistants. Steele may have inspired Grey’s willingness to re-negotiate the terms of their contract, but Grey is still the dominant in his relationship with Steele.

The film tries to be humorous but fails in a scene where Grey and Steele take a trip to the grocery store, contrasting the couple’s differing lifestyles. Steele goes to the freezer and takes out a vanilla flavored carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a metaphor for her personality and her relationship with Grey. Sorry, Foley, but I did not laugh or smile. The only reaction this scene got from me was a scoff and an eyeroll.

“50 Shades Darker” is full of sad jokes about Steele and Grey’s once kinky relationship. In a scene where Grey whisks Steele away to his yacht, Steele casually comments on Grey’s knot-tying abilities. Grey’s boat may be named “The Grace,” but grace is something that cannot be found in this film.

The title, “50 Shades Darker,” implies that there is more drama, more secrets and more steamy sex scenes, but viewers are left with unexplained events, half-ass answers and a slightly tamer relationship.

Throughout the film, Steele is stalked by a strange woman named Leila, who is later revealed to be one of Grey’s former submissives. The stalking comes to a climax when Leila breaks into Steele’s apartment with a gun pointed directly at Steele.

Of course, Grey bursts in and takes control of the situation while Steele is being taken out of the room by one of Grey’s security details. Steele walks away and disappears into the city. She returns to Grey’s apartment to find him on the phone talking to people who are out looking for her. Steele and Grey argue briefly but do not go into much detail about what happened between Grey and Leila.

Steele and Grey’s relationship seems to be improving, but Grey shuts down, sinks back into his old habits and cuts himself off emotionally from Steele.

I cannot get past Grey’s creepy, possessive and seemingly-thoughtless actions. He brings Steele to a hair salon owned by the notorious Mrs. Robinson, the older woman who taught him about dominant-submissive relationships.

Grey casually explains that Leila became obsessed with him during their relationship. Grey also reveals that he keeps extensively researched files on every woman he becomes involved with, including Steele.

In the final scenes of the film, Grey crashes his helicopter, survives, makes it back to the city in time to celebrate his birthday and proposes to Steele in front of his friends, family and Mrs. Robinson at a party at his family mansion.

To conclude, Steele and Mrs. Robinson come face-to-face where their confrontation ends with Steele throwing a drink in Mrs. Robsinson’s face. Could it get more dramatic than that?

Aside from the phenomenal soundtrack, “50 Shades Darker” is nowhere near as intense as the original “50 Shades of Grey.” What is lacking in answers is made up for in awkward jokes.

It is rushed, unrealistic and unromantic.

Mr. Grey will see fans again at the anticipated 2018 release of “50 Shades Freed,” but you will not be seeing me in the theatre to watch it.

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50 shades of disappointment