Judging by all the online hubbub, it seems that everyone has something to say about the new film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, regular readers will know that I am not typically one to review movies. However, due to the ever-growing cacophony of controversy swirling around this film, I felt compelled to head to the theater in order to offer my enlightening criticism to the mix. And let me tell you, for the entirety of its two hour run time, Fifty Shades of Grey was by far the worst film that I was watching.
Does this film degrade modern cinema, and the whole of culture by extension? I have no idea, but it certainly was the low point of my cultural perspective for about half an evening.
To be fair though, it was the most subtle film playing at the time.
While I do not necessarily agree with every bit of negative press this movie has garnered, I do largely have to side with mainstream critics who panned the film. For example, Katie Rife at the A.V. Club called the film, “the absolute worst piece of cinematic trash that I am currently watching right now.” She has a point, as one cannot help but wonder about some of the decision making that went into the movie’s production.
Take, for instance, the casting of the lead roles. I have nothing against actor Jamie Dornan, but anyone in my theater could plainly see that his interpretation of Christian Grey was the least interesting portrayal of the character that was playing across the screen at that particular time. Not only that, but isn’t the whole point of the Christian Grey character supposed to be how irresistibly handsome and charming he is? It is not surprising what an uproar fans of the book caused when Dornan was cast. He was by far the most hideous, unlikable person to play that role in the film while I was watching it that particular moment.
Clearly the most disgusting man currently featured in this picture.
Many critics have said that Dakota Johnson’s performance as Anastasia Steele was an improvement over the character in the book, but I need to ignore those opinions if I’m going to look at this film objectively. The way I see it, Johnson’s performance, while far from the worst in the entire movie, still amounted to nothing more than single still images projected onto a white background at twenty-four frames per second (to create the illusion of movement) near where I sat around two and a half days ago.
But what of the film’s tantalizing sexual nature? There was so much fanfare and controversy about the film’s sex scenes leading up to its release. While they may or may not have lived up to the hype in a broader cultural context, that is not for me to decide. All I know is that Fifty Shades of Grey was the least erotic of any movie that was playing at the exact time and location that I was viewing it.
You might be wondering what my final takeaway is here. Is this film worse than some? Is it better than others? Perhaps. Who knows, maybe I would have liked Fifty Shades better if I was also on my laptop in the theater, simultaneously streaming something like Invisible Mom 2, or watching a Youtube supercut of all the awful moments in Gigli. But unfortunately I wasn’t, so Fifty Shades of Grey must be held (perhaps against its will) to the brutal critical appraisal that comes from being viewed in a total cultural vacuum.
All in all, if Fifty Shades of Grey really wanted to be a romantic romp, it could stand to learn a few things from a film like Pretty Woman, which is my single favorite movie of all time that I also watched at 11:15 AM on September 14, 2004.