Let’s address the rather large and unforgettable grey object in the room.

And, no, I’m not talking about an elephant.

E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy returns to the silver screen again on February 10 with the second chapter of the story of handsome billionaire Christian Grey and innocent-yet-independent former English Literature student Anastasia Steele.

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The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is one of the top ten bestselling books of all time, and, in the height of its popularity sold at a rate of approximately one book every second. Thus, one cannot talk about film adaptations of books without at least addressing Fifty Shades Darker.

What They Will Do:

There’s a wonderful little word called schmaltz.

Schmaltz, adj.:

  1. sentimental or florid music or art
  2. sentimentality

The creators of Fifty Shades of Grey did their best when creating a two-hour length film out of the first book. However, the source material was a little lacking in plot. After all, you can only show so many intimate scenes or dates on screen without dialogue before the audience starts getting drowsy. So they compensated by inserting popular songs into the movie in order to simultaneously pad the running time, up the sentimentality, and sell more soundtracks to the movie.

I give you Exhibit A from Fifty Shades of Grey:

Although Fifty Shades Darker has a little more plot than the first book, buckle up for more schmaltz.

What They Won’t Do:

The creators are not going to dial back the steam or add better dialogue.

Case in point: There’s both shower sex and elevator sex shown in the trailer. Not to mention…

“Have dinner with me.”

“Okay. Fine. I will have dinner with you. Because I’m… hungry.”

What They Should Do:

I suffered through these books and the first film so that I could express an educated opinion about this material. And I must say I was surprised by the fact that they chose to emphasize the undertone of abuse in this glamorous erotic fantasy series. Highlighting how Christian’s past molded his present and Ana finally standing up for herself and saying “No” was refreshing.

It helped cleanse the palate… a little.

Fifty Shades Darker

It seems they plan to do the same in the second movie. By emphasizing certain new characters and phrases from the book in the trailer, it appears the franchise will attempt to encourage healthy, consensual relationships and reveal the utter destruction caused by selfish, abusive ones. The producers should capitalize on these plot points outlined in the second book.

Or, at least, one can hope. Viewers will still have to wade through a lot of other… stuff… to reach that conclusion.

What They Should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO:

Lose the tiny, tenuous grip they have on Ana’s independence and character.

Let’s admit it. It’s hard for actresses to step into these Mary Sue, based-on-fan-fiction, popular stories (see our recent Throwback Thursday blog post for more about the problems popular fan fiction adaptations can cause for film adaptations). The character has very little development or back story because we don’t need to learn more about her… or him… we just want to become them.

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Dakota Johnson is doing an admirable job by portraying so much with so little. The creators also made a wise decision in trashing the canned internal narration of Ana’s character in the novel and allowing Johnson to express more with her expressions.

Still, the creators need to be careful and not let the character’s interactions with the man she stepped away from for her personal well-being seem like acquiescence.

Wish List Item:

When that elevator scene comes up…

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Any chance we could avoid shots up her skirt? At a running time just shy of two hours, I find it unlikely. Gotta pad the plot somehow! But that’s indecent. Not to mention awkward. Just don’t.

Chances of this happening:

I give it 3 flimsy masks out of 10.


 All media and images belongs to Focus Features.

Fifty Shades Darkerhaving barely dodged the a NC-17 rating, is rated “R” for ‘strong erotic sexual content, some graphic nudity and language.’ 

The film will hit silver screens first appear in theaters on February 9, 2017.