Fifty Shades Darker review - the Sharknado of softcore strikes back

The second film in the franchise that is to softcore porn what Sharknado is to monster movies is upon us.

Anastasia the writer and Christian the creepy billionaire-slash-dreamboat fantasy man are back at it, romping away like bunnies again in Fifty Shades Darker.

The first film ended semi-climactically with a teary break-up, but within minutes of the sequel beginning the pair are tearing each other's clothes off, making their split seem even more meaningless than it already did.

He insists that the relationship will be normal this time and she somewhat begrudgingly accepts, albeit with a promise that the BDSM stuff is to be toned down. But before you know it, their romance is interrupted briefly by one of Christian's former victims.

Then Anastasia and Christian have sex.

The romance is then briefly interrupted by a former abuser of Christian.

Then Anastasia and Christian have sex.

The romance is then briefly interrupted by Anastasia's possessive, sleazy boss, who is not unlike Christian himself.

Then Anastasia and Christian have sex.

You get the idea. 

Fifty Shades Darker
Anastasia and Christian in Fifty Shades Darker

There are a lot of minor interruptions - including the least dramatic helicopter crash ever, which creates minor concern for all of about two minutes - but generally this is a series of scenes of Anastasia and Christian interacting sexually with each other, and little else.

Some improvements are made on the first film. Christian is more human, less robotic, and Anastasia has thankfully dropped the incessant, demented lip-biting - although she still overdoes the constant "ums" and "ahs" and general faux-awkwardness.

It's nice that there is actual romance in this film, unlike the original, which was aggressively cold and centered largely on a written contract about what sexual activities the couple would engage in. Here, the relationship actually blossoms as a relationship, rather than a business deal.

But it's still a very trashy, boring film.

The cheap use of serious issues such as suicide attempts, child abuse and workplace sexual harassment as narrative shortcuts in something so incredibly goofy is troubling, even if it is true to the erotic pulp it was born from.

Sadly, the humour has been stripped back, with the winky, over-the-top innuendo of the first film mostly removed. There are still a lot of this-is-so-bad-it's-good laughs, but it's definitely trying to be more serious than it should.

It's not as insultingly terrible as a recent Adam Sandler comedy, a Transformers movie, or a Nickelback song; but it certainly isn't good. And just like those properties, it's insanely popular for reasons I will never fully understand.

If you're a Fifty Shades fan, you'll definitely get what you want from this sequel - more of the same, but with more sex. So go enjoy it, I guess.

Two stars.

      Fifty Shades Darker

:: Director: James Foley

:: Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Kim Basinger, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Eric Johnson, Bella Heathcote, Marcia Gay Harden

:: Running Time: 118 mins

:: Rating: R18 - Sex scenes and offensive language

:: Release Date: February 9, 2017

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