Fifty Shades Darker 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
I had to go back and read my review for FIFTY SHADES OF GREY because I feared I’d be repeating myself here. It turns out that the two biggest complaints I have with FIFTY SHADES DARKER are the exact two complaints I had with the original; bad sex and even worse dialogue. Like many others, I blamed director Sam Taylor-Johnson for her amateurish direction and apparently, the studio felt the same way, so they brought in James Foley and a new screenwriter to save the day. And what did they do? They committed all of the same mistakes and gave us what may be an even worse film. So let’s stop fooling ourselves into thinking the problem is with the filmmakers; the problems with the Fifty Shades films is that they’re based on embarrassingly bad books that just can’t be fixed.
Coming up with a basic plot outline for FIFTY SHADES DARKER is tough. There’s very little conflict, there’s zero character development and there’s no overarching storyline. I suppose the driving force in the film is the relationship between Anastasia and Christian, but we get a lot of the same repeats from the original. If you’ll recall, they split up at the end of the first film, but they get back together quickly in the sequel. Then there’s a lot of “is she into it or not” discussions regarding Anastasia’s tolerance for kinky sex play. But there’s no real conflict in the film because their relationship is never in question.
But I feel like everyone knows there’s no story in the Fifty Shades movies and instead, the “kinky” sex is what sells these films. But once again, that’s a problem because the conversations leading up to the numerous sex scenes are all the same. Christian professes that he’s going to be rough and kinky, then Anastasia says she’s into it, then we get a three minute sex scene that’s about as pedestrian as you can get. I’m not asking for a kinky sex scene, I’m asking the filmmakers to stop telling me something is kinky when it’s clearly not. But if we ignore that problem, the sex is once again boring and lacks any sensuality or titillation. I think the only people more bored with the sex than the audience were Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
And, like the original, the biggest problem is with the dialogue. The lines for each character are very short, which causes problems for the director. They can cut quickly between each character talking, causing the audience to throw up. They can hold the camera on each actor too long, making the actors look terrible with their timing. Or, they can film the scene with both actors in the shot at once, which is tough for lesser qualified actors. Foley chose to hold onto the actors too long, which is why Johnson and Dornan look terrible in these movies. That’s not the only reason (Johnson’s constant grunting doesn’t help anything), but it’s a leading contributor to the bad performances.
I realize I’m not the target audience, but FIFTY SHADES DARKER is just a poor film with no redeeming qualities. At two hours long, it easily contains thirty minutes of worthless scenes (we watch them play a game of pool in what feels like real time). If you show up for the sex scenes, you’ll get plenty to choose from, but I doubt any of them will do the trick. But, if you liked the original, I’m sure you’ll make just as many excuses for the sequel.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: There are some things I don’t need to see in 4K and I think we can add Jamie Dornan’s buttocks to that list. But for those that just can’t get enough naked Dornan and Dakota Johnson, this 4K should bring you even closer to them. FIFTY SHADES DARKER is another 4K transfer that will give you a decent upgrade, but isn’t significantly better than the Blu-ray. And yes, I realize I’ve said that dozens of times over the 100+ 4K reviews I’ve written, but it’s a common sentiment among the upconverted video transfers. The plus to FIFTY SHADES DARKER is that the 4K and HDR do the dreary city landscapes a great service by making what little color there is pop and the transfer does have a depth to it that you don’t get on the Blu-ray counterpart. I still believe that if you must watch FIFTY SHADES DARKER, then the 4K disc is the way to go.
I also want to point out that both the theatrical and extended editions are included on the 4K disc, which is nice since a lot of studios ditch the extended editions on the 4K discs.
Audio: The DTS-X track from the Blu-ray is included on the 4K and it’s a very nice audio track. It’s not used throughout, but the masquerade ball scene, for example, really showed off the track.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Featurettes (38:39): I’m lumping all of the featurettes together because there are 6 of them, with the longest being just under 9 minutes and none of them are anything more than a quick fluff piece covering various aspects of the film. The most interesting covered the masquerade ball, bu the rest feel like they’re trying to sell the viewer books, sex toys or both.
Deleted Scenes (1:55): Two scenes that were instantly forgettable.
A Tease to Fifty Shades Freed (:35): I believe this is the same teaser that is shown during the credits of the extended edition.