‘Fifty Shades’ fails to please

The highly-anticipated erotica movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” leaves little to the imagination, yet much to be desired.

E. L. James’ controversial novel shook the world years ago, becoming one of the fastest-selling paperback books of all time and since then, Universal Pictures and Focus Features picked up the story, transforming it into a massive blockbuster that pulled in more than $81.7 million over Valentine’s Day weekend, according to “Variety.”

The story (by screenwriter Kelly Marcel) tells the tale of young, innocent Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) who has a chance meeting with the mysterious, wealthy, and calculating Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) who sends her spiraling through his world of money, mystery, and, of course, BDSM (dominant and submissive sexual relationships).

James’ books has drawn a great deal of criticism since it was published (“Fifty Shades” actually began as an explicit Twilight fan-fiction) from various organizations due to its depictions of BSDM culture, portrayal of a relationship that many view as abusive and overall quality in terms of writing. Still, despite all the negative press around the film and novels, “Fifty Shades of Grey” performed exceptionally well and continues to do so.

Johnson was the shining light in this cringe-worthy, melodramatic, almost-love story. She was perfectly cast in the role and proved to be a breath of fresh air with her portrayal of the wide-eyed, inexperienced college senior. She was witty, she was charming, colorful and she, arguably, provided one of the best drunken night out performances that had the audience laughing minutes after the scene had passed.

Dornan was cast as Grey who, after taking a glance at one of the books, slipped quite effortlessly into the character’s shoes (and suits for that matter). If the book was going for a distant, brooding character, then Dornan hit the nail on the head by giving the audience all that, and then some.

The soundtrack to the movie was perfect and set the tone for the entire film. Beyoncé provided the audience with two remixed versions of her songs “Crazy in Love” and “Haunted” while The Weeknd released new music that could have served as the soundtrack to Grey’s life. Other notable artist appearances include Ellie Goulding, Sia, and Skylar Grey.

That being said, the film’s negatives far outweighed the positives.

The film began with this sense of urgency to get to the steamy core topic of the film. And while the actors made it very clear who they were and what they stood for early on, it felt as though the writers were shoving the introductions down our throats.

Secondly, the dialogue in the film could be described in one word: ghastly. While half of the lines delivered were somewhat passable, the other half of the dialogue was awkward with audience members turning to each other to ask if the characters “really said that.”

Third, it was almost blatantly obvious that “Fifty Shades” borrowed plot elements from “Twilight” like bad boys with dark pasts and innocent, young school girls with this almost pathological need to “fix” them. And while “Twilight” can be seen as a joke, too, at least that film had supernatural elements to distract the audience from some of the nonsense that was going on.

Another notable similarity between the two male leads was their eerie infatuation with their love interests. The writers clearly wanted both men to come off as affectionate, caring and concerned, but in both “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades” the male leads have this domineering, stalker tendency that is not only alienating, but uncomfortable to watch as Mr. Grey took his actions several steps too far too many occasions.

Lastly, even though the film is about BDSM, there was very little of it to actually be shown. Yes there was a great deal of nudity and sex, and yes, there was an introduction to Grey’s “Playroom,” but the audience leaves with only a vague idea of what BDSM looks like.

However, it is understandable as to why the movie feels like a “stripped down” version of the book. Had it have actually attacked the subject in its entirety, the film would have easily received an NC-17 rating and, more likely than not, would not have performed well in theaters.

The film, while it had potential, did not act on it. Still, despite the overwhelming amount of negative reviews, the film was a financial success by greatly surpassing its $40 million budget.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is playing in theaters all around the world. It is 125 minutes long and rated R for sexual content, inappropriate language and graphic nudity.