HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: 50 Shades of Grey
HTS Overall Score:84
The first thoughts that probably are coming to mind are “why in blazes are you reviewing this title Mike”? Usually we shy away from titles that tend to be somewhat lurid in nature, but I do actually have a very specific reason for this one. If this was any other film I would have just passed on it, but after listening to MONTHS of friends, family members, and random people on the street talking how they wanted to go on Valentine’s day to see the film, or how they missed it in theaters but wanted to so badly that I had to express my thoughts on the blockbuster movie. I’m no stranger to films of varying ratings, but I actually had subjected myself to reading E.L. James book, “50 Shades of Grey” out of sheer morbidity, so I knew just what was contained within, but still was facepalming the entire movie as a hackneyed book turned into a hackneyed movie adaptation with some very disturbing messages underlying the seemingly risqué, but mostly innocent veneer.
Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), I’m already wincing at a name that sounds like it was ripped straight out of a harlequin romance novel, is a shy young journalist who happens to interview filthy rich businessman, Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman) and the instant attraction between them is ridiculously obvious. At a chance meeting in the hardware store where Anastasia works, the pair finds themselves face to face once more, where Christian invites her out to coffee with him. The odd couple type of date is going well until Anastasia confesses to Christian that she’s a hopeless romantic and he confesses that he doesn’t believe in love.
Depressed and feeling dejected, Anastasia gets trashed at a bar and calls up Christian. Acting as a gentleman, Christian comes and picks up Anastastia and takes her back to his place wherein he shows her his BSDM dungeon. Intrigued, yet slightly nervous, Anastasia sees another side to the handsome, rich, playboy millionaire and isn’t sure if it’s something she wants. Christian goes so far as to say that he wants her to be his “sub” in the BDSM world and even draws up an elaborate contract of soft and hard rules that the relationship would follow. Confused, but still very much intrigued and attracted to Christian, Anastasia goes to her mother’s house to make up her mind, only to have the rather impatient Christian demand an answer. After hemming and hawing with the young man, she finally makes her famed decision and tells Christian.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44609[/img]I remember reading “50 Shades of Grey” back when it first came out just to see what the awful hype was all about. I knew it was going to be pretty bad from the get go, but I wasn’t prepared for just HOW bad it was. Not only is the content a bit lurid, but HORRIBLY written, as if a 14 year old wrote it. There are mistakes and misspellings and other such things that litter the novel so frequently that I honestly wonder how it got past the copy editor. Or if it even had a copy editor AT ALL! I shouldn’t have been surprised though, as E.L. James started her works out as a “Twilight” fan fiction and once she realized that it became so popular and marketable to the general public she changed the names and occupations so as to not infringe. Yes, “50 Shades of Grey” was a fan written work, on one of the most painful romantic/supernatural/dramas to have been created in the last 15 years. Oh dear. Now translate this to film and you can already guess the results.
E.L. James did much the same thing for “50 Shades of Grey” as Stephanie Meyer did for “Twilight” in regards to vampires. Stephanie had never read much about vampires and basically “made it up as she went along”, which ticked off horror and vampire fans to NO END. I mean, how many vampires sparkle in the sunlight and don’t actually have fangs? E.L. James did the same thing with BDSM, already a controversial subject, and pulled a “this is what people think I do” meme, wherein she assumed a LOT and then created her own warped version. I’m not going to comment on the legitimacy of the BDMS community or not, as that is not the purpose of this review, BUT what E.L. James did with it is nothing short of dangerous. Now, I don’t mean dangerous as in the movie poses some dread threat to society, but rather the themes and assumptions she makes are rather dangerous to people going into a relationship. Much like how action movies have the “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I feel that this movie should basically be flashing that logo every second of the film. On the surface the book and the movie is just an edgy romance, but under the surface is where it gets interesting. Anastasia is the classic normal girl who falls in love with the rich unattainable millionaire who both come from different worlds. It tries to tug at the heartstrings and get you to root for it as a broken Christian Grey finds Solace in the healing abilities of the tender young woman, one who slowly gets sucked into his lifestyle. The problem is that Christian is a VERY broken young man playing a dangerous game with people. That type of lifestyle is based upon a rigid set of rules and strict control, not of the other person as much as YOURSELF. Christian’s shattered persona leads him to being in a position of power where he basically mentally abuses Anastasia and it’s viewed as “that’s ok, that’s the lifestyle”. NO! That alone is scary beyond belief that E.L. James assumed that and portrays it as “acceptable” for girls everywhere who are just looking for a romantic movie. Christian is Manipulative, controlling, broken, and in a way violent, yet he’s still her love interest. If they were VILLIFYING him, I might understand, but when this type of relationship is passed off as ok, then it starts being very scary. Even members of the BDSM community are up in arms about the book and film as what is written and acted in both mediums is repugnant to them as well! I find this especially scary with how many issues of domestic violence is done to women every day, yet this movie doesn't empower anyone, but rather gives power to the controller and still tries to tell you that its ok.
Now, this is more than just my personal disgust with the film, but also comes from a technical point of view. The script was every bit as bad as the actual novel and it’s no wonder why. E.L. James contract specifically says that she has total control over the direction and molding of the script, so a good writer and director can’t polish a nasty looking stone into diamond. What we had on paper is what we get on screen, an awkward “romance” that is horribly written and acted just as poorly. Jamie Dorman and Dakota Johnson have ZERO chemistry and they look like they’re just begging for the director to yell “CUT”. Interestingly enough, the movie is actually tamer than the book when it comes naughtiness. There, thankfully, isn’t much sex in the film and what is shown is more a horrible set of quick cuts to insinuate rather than show. All this comes down to one simple verdict. This isn't a movie I would endorse, or even say "find out for yourself". Everyone is of course welcome to do so, but I felt it would be better to review the film rather than ignore it while it's being marketed as a blockbuster romance. It also earns the distinction of being the only film I've rated on the site that gets a 1.5 star rating.
Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and nudity, and for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44617[/img]While the movie may be a total failure, Universal’s Blu-ray is a home run. The 2.40:1 AVC encoded disc is absolutely flawless. Colors and saturation are impeccable with pristine perfect detail. Shot digitally, it’s as squeaky clean as you can possibly get besides being in the real world. The film has a decidedly slate blue color grading and a lightly grey (haha) tinge to the movie. Facial detailing is exceptional with just as much fine detail in the wide angle shots as well. The stitching and lining of Christian’s suit is razor sharp and replicated perfectly. Blacks are deep and inky, as there is plenty of low lit scenes to showcase said blacks. Shadow detail is amazing and clarity is about as sharp as a sword’s edge. Probably one of the best transfers I’ve seen in a long time.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44625[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is almost as good as the absolutely jaw dropping video encode. Finely detailed and highly nuanced, the track does a great job at immersing the viewer into the drama. Little cracks and creeks come through with eerie accuracy, while the throbbing LFE accompanies the pop sound track with equal aplomb. Depth and channel separation are resplendent with sounds constantly shifting direction and giving one the sense of being right there. The modern score fits the mood of the movie quite well and is exceptionally folded into the tale. If anything, the one good thing in the entire package is Universal’s excellent handling of the technical specifications.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=44633[/img]• Tease of Fifty Shades Darker
• The World of Fifty Shades Darker
• Behind the Shades
• E.L. James & Fifty Shades
• Fifty Shades: The Pleasure of Pain
• Christian's Apartment: 360 Degree Set Tour
• Music Videos
• Fifty Shades: The Pleasure of Pain
“50 Shades of Grey” is not something I would recommend to ANYONE, under any circumstance. I really try to find the best in just about every movie I watch, even the bad ones, but the themes, the acting, the directing, the writing and the disturbing legitimizing of very dangerous take on BDSM leaves me with little choice but to give a VERY hearty two thumbs down. Especially considering how many people I know had no real clue about what was contained within besides the fact that it was a “Valentines Day” movie and the target audience of the film. The only upside to the whole package is that the Blu-ray looks and sounds FANTASTIC. Reference material across the board. NOT RECOMMENDED. My final comment is this. I would actually rather watch "Battlefield Earth" on repeat for the next month than ever have to see this movie again.
Starring: Jamie Dorman, Dakota Johnson
Directed by: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Written by: Kelly Marcel (Screenplay), E.L. James (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Runtime: 128 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 8th 2015
Buy 50 Shades of Grey On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: SKIP IT
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