After four years, three films and countless lip bites, the erotic franchise everyone loves to hate has finally come to an end. Advertised as “the climax,” “Fifty Shades Freed” is not quite the frenzied peak director James Foley promised, doing little justice for its overly complicated characters. Though only glorified, smut-filled “Twilight” fan fiction as author E.L James intended, the series manages to stand on its own, gratuitous female nudity and all.
After a short yet tumultuous relationship, it seems as if Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) have met their happy ending, as they exchange vows as Mr. and Mrs. Grey. When their lush and romantic honeymoon is cut short by the devious Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), Anastasia’s former boss who attempted to attack her, it becomes clear the film will include much more drama than its predecessors, but miraculously the same amount of sex (thank God). Hyde’s antics put a strain on Anastasia and Christian’s relationship as they attempt to move forward with their extravagant life ahead of them, which of course, does not go as planned. Anastasia settles into her new role as a billionaire’s wife, while Christian does everything he can to ensure the safety of his submissive/life partner.
As eloquent and mumbling as ever, Johnson delivers iconic lines such as “it’s boobs in boobland” with her special brand of barely-there sarcasm. She plays off of Dornan’s wide-eyed severity, yet again managing to bring humor to her role of submissive sex kitten. Much of the film’s popularity rests upon her soft moans and skinny frame, but Johnson has proved her worth. Beyond the “Fifty Shades” series, she could shine as a comedic actress, while Dornan’s legacy will forever be “laters, baby.”
Lest we forget his hunk of a bod, Dornan’s performance is a mix of shirtless shenanigans and grumbled demands, and really, that’s all he is good for. Christian Grey is meant to be a tormented soul, with layer upon layer of emotion to be discovered as he undresses and bares soul and all — yet he falls flat in Dornan’s hands. Grey, in the eyes of many devoted fans, deserved better.
Through the past three films, it is obvious that Dornan has become more comfortable with his role as dominant, yet it is Johnson who dominates each interaction. He becomes increasingly more charming with each passing scene, but by the end of the film and the series, fans are left wanting more. Perhaps Dornan will prove his acting prowess elsewhere, if he can escape the enormity of the “Fifty Shades” shadow.
Despite the widespread social media hate, embarrassingly low scores and scorching critiques, the “Fifty Shades” hype stood the test of time. “Fifty Shades Freed” was met with solid ticket sales it’s opening weekend, racking in around $38.8 billion for one simple reason — sex. When watched without inhibitions and at the appropriate age, the trilogy is a pleasure. It fulfills every gold-digger’s fantasy, and offers up drama, humor and some of the most socially acceptable softcore porn. Though a bit awkward to watch in a full theatre, “Fifty Shades” is meant to be enjoyed, handcuffs and all.