At the end of “50 Shades of Grey,” our heroine Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) was leaving the mysterious and aloof Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). Now Anastasia is back and seems to have moved on from Christian, working as a personal assistant at Seattle Independent Publishing for the amorous Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson). Jack is not the only new character introduced into the saga. A mysterious figure seems to be trailing Ana and a person from Christian’s past pops up as well, wanting to destroy their relationship.
“50 Shades Darker” is a step up from “50 Shades of Grey,” with director James Foley taking over from Sam Taylor-Johnson. While “50 Shades of Grey” had an immature, almost cheesy atmosphere, “50 Shades Darker” tries to have a more mature approach to both the film and the characters. Ana has developed a backbone for herself, standing up to Christian and his domineering ways. Ana has decided to prevail in her career and life as an independent woman. Christian seems to have matured as well, as we get a somewhat hurried twaddle of his abusive past. The opening scene of the movie is a young Christian, running from the abuse of his mother and her pimp. Yet, even with the growth on both sides, they seem to butt heads on one issue: Christian wants to keep Ana, while Ana does not want to be kept.
While “50 Shades of Grey” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and is already the victim of media mockery, “50 Shades Darker” tries to bring the series into a more serious light, with beautiful white rose opening credits and a new soundtrack that exudes the dilemma of the couple. Product placement in the movie is hilarious. As Ana and Christian have a conversation about ‘vanilla’ relationships, a Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream tub graces the screen. Later, Christian comments on her lack of high end products, as he buys Ana Apple products.
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson represent the characters in a different light than the first. Johnson presents Ana as a budding woman, and Dornan as man accepting of change, giving us all hope that Ana and Christian can finally find peace in their off-beat relationship.
3 STARS OUT OF FIVE STARS