It is indeed the end of an era. The last installment of the “Fifty Shades” movie trilogy hit theaters Feb. 9. “Fifty Shades Freed” is the continuation of Anastasia and Christian’s love story, now as a married couple. Their life as newlyweds begins with a mystery as Anastasia’s ex-boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), steals information from Christian’s company, which initiates ongoing conflict for the couple. In what’s supposedly the “climax” of the trilogy, the film fails to bring much excitement, even with cheesy sex scenes galore, a star-studded soundtrack, and aesthetic splurges. It’s more the same: sex (except they’re married now, and Ana sometimes enjoys being spanked) and the return of the creep who’s now trying to get revenge on Ana and Christian.
Niall Leonard’s predictable screenwriting (not to mention, E.L. James’s flimsy source material) produces a story that lacks energy. Leonard’s screenplay omits several points from James’s book that definitely could have shaped the storyline, namely Ana’s father’s car accident. The remaining scenes, as a result, fails to provide much entertainment. Each scene is set up exactly so that what happens next is never a mystery.
Unimaginative acting fails to redeem the film. Dakota Johnson’s portrayal of Anastasia is naive and ingenuine. With lines like, “Babies happen when we have sex… And we tend to do a lot of that.” It’s hard to blame her, though: Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is passionate with and obsessively protective of Ana, though whether he actually loves her and is ready for their marriage never comes through. Even at the end, when his mother gives him advice like “Say you’re sorry, and mean it,” his maturity falls short.
Sex in the movie is overly dramatic, making it more laughable than sensual. During Christian’s surprise trip for Ana and friends to Aspen, a nightmare about Jack Hyde’s kidnapping attack on Ana drives her to the kitchen with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. The ice cream was more than intentional, and soon the scene unwinds into foreplay. Ice cream here, ice cream there, ice cream everywhere. Literally everywhere. Whether the scene was intended to be funny, it had the whole theater laughing.
While the main plot points and characters are not satisfying, the accessory elements of the film—namely, soundtrack and wardrobe—are almost enough to make up for it. Chock-full of the hottest pop and alternative musicians, the soundtrack of the film reinforces the film’s sensual essence. Featuring stars like Liam Payne, Sia, Louis the Child, and Dua Lipa, the new, exciting songs set the mood for various provocative scenes. Notably, Jamie Dornan himself sings the ballad “Maybe I’m Afraid” at the piano on a retreat in Colorado. Although the vocals are shaky, his deep voice is impressive enough for the wooed Anastasia. For the featured song at the end of the movie, the music directors bring back Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” which was also in the original Fifty Shades of Grey. This song is the perfect nostalgic musical ending to the infamous trilogy as Anastasia reflected on her fondest moments with Christian through flashbacks in the last few minutes of the film.
If the two main characters are billionaires, there better be a fabulous wardrobe. Indeed, designers Shay Cunliffe and Karin Nosella channeled their inner Dior and crafted a wardrobe for Anastasia and Christian that was chic and sophisticated. In particular, Anastasia wowed Christian—and the audience—in a silver “napkin” cocktail dress. Her work wardrobe channeled early 2000s prep, reminiscent of the “Gossip Girl” era: white blouses, string black bows, and incredibly high designer heels.
Despite the splurging thrills of the wardrobe, helicopters, and mansions, the movie lacks the plot development and acting needed for the full ninety minute runtime.
—Staff writer Nicole T. Sturgis can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22.