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Fifty Shades Darker

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Fifty Shades Darker Movie Poster Image
More sex, less banter in graphic but bland sequel.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A key takeaway is to stay firm in your sense of self; don't give up who you are for someone else. Also encourages acknowledging the difficult or disturbing aspects of your past and processing them so you can move forward with your life and relationships in a healthy way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ana is stronger willed in the second movie than she was in the first. She's secure in herself and sure of what she wants out both of a relationship and a career. Christian is more flexible and not quite as controlling. He listens to Anastasia and is willing to compromise and discuss what it means to be in a relationship of equals, as opposed to one with dominant and submissive roles.

Violence

Unlike the violence in the first film, which was limited to the bedroom, this installment includes gun violence in one scene -- an intruder shoots a gun in Anastasia's direction -- and a scene of potential sexual violence that ends with Anastasia defending herself by hurting the man who's about to assault her. A helicopter crashes, and it's unclear for a little while what happens to the pilot and passenger. A character throws a drink in another character's face. A character slaps another person.

Sex

Many long, explicit sex scenes with nudity (mostly bare breasts and buttocks, but also occasional glimpses of pubic hair -- though no full frontal as in the first film). Portrays light bondage and submission/domination scenarios, as well as oral sex and the use of several sex/novelty toys/aides. It feels like there are more sex scenes in this film than in the first one, since Ana and Christian are together for more of this movie.

Language

Several uses of "f--k," "ass," "a--hole," "s--t," "goddamn," "Jesus Christ" and "my god" used as exclamations, plus some "dirty talk."

Consumerism

Lots of Audis, plus Cartier ring, iPhone, Apple computer.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine, beer, and cocktails at various receptions, dinners, and events.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fifty Shades Darker is the second installment in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, movies based on E.L. James' best-selling erotic romance novels originally written as Twilight fan fiction. As anyone who's seen the first movie or read the books knows, this is not an appropriate movie for teens. It's filled with sex and has many graphic love scenes, including close-up shots of naked breasts and buttocks and glimpses of pubic hair. In fact, the central couple -- whose relationship started out unhealthy but now has turned into love -- seems to do little else but have sex; at least this time around, the steamy scenes are less violent and more loving. That said, this installment features more out-of-the-bedroom violence than the first movie: There's a scene of gun violence, a helicopter crash, and a near sexual assault. Language is also strong, with words like "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole" used frequently. Character drink frequently, and there's lots of brand/product placement, especially luxury cars, electronics, and jewelry.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJade O. February 15, 2017
Hopefully they make a 3rd
Teen, 14 years old Written byfiftyshadeslover February 13, 2017

Amazing Movie and Story

Parents shouldnt only think about the sex in this movie. This is an amazing film, which can also make people at 14+ think. It can make us aware of the things ha... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMike G. February 16, 2017

Haha, this is hilariously bad.

This film is hilariously atrocious. There isn't a single redeeming quality about this awful, awful movie. Please go see something else, like Split or John... Continue reading

What's the story?

FIFTY SHADES DARKER picks up shortly after Fifty Shades of Grey leaves off: Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) have broken up, and she's about to start a job as an assistant at an independent book publisher. But that doesn't mean Christian's not keeping tabs on Ana: He manages to quickly woo her back by saying he wants a real relationship, not just a dominant-submissive contract. As Christian and Ana attempt a "regular" romance, Christian can't stop his compulsion to control her. As a result, he's jealous of her handsome boss, Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), and introduces her to the older woman who first seduced, abused, and dominated him as a teen, Elena Lincoln (Kim Basinger). Meanwhile a young, vaguely threatening young woman seems to be stalking Ana.

Is it any good?

Although Dornan delivers a more nuanced performance than in the first film, this sequel offers virtually no plot other than providing excuses for the chemistry-free leads to have sex. In the end, the few plusses -- Dornan doesn't look as horrified with his role, the love scenes are more about love and less about domination and submission -- can't make up for the many minuses, like the nonexistent supporting character development and dramatic tension. There are three possible sources of villainy in the stoy: Elena, the statutory rapist who indoctrinated Christian into the world of BDSM; Jack, the publisher with a hidden agenda; and the mysterious young woman who has a bone to pick with Ana and Christian. But neither the dialogue nor the characterization builds the necessary drama to care about any of them.

Unlike the original film, which was at least adapted and directed by women, Fifty Shades Darker was written by E.L. James' husband, author/screenwriter Niall Leonard, and directed by a man, James Foley -- which is a disconnect, since the series' fandom is nearly all women. It's been reported that James has an unusual amount of sway (think J.K. Rowling level) for a writer on a film adaptation, and it shows. But while reading endless pages of erotica interrupted with bits of dinner and party and office conversations in between might work as a book, it doesn't work for a movie. Once again, it just feels like a big-budget waste of the talented cast.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how sex is depicted in Fifty Shades Darker. Is Ana and Christian's relationship healthy? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • Why do you think the Fifty Shades books (and first movie) are so popular? Is it an appropriate saga for teens? The author began her tale as Twilight fan fiction; can you see any of Edward and Bella in these characters and their relationship?

  • Critics of the story claim that it's sexist, unrealistic, and glosses over statutory rape. What do you think?

  • Are any of the characters intended to be role models? Are they sympathetic? Why, or why not?

Movie details

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