'50 Shades' First Reviews Are 'Hot,' 'Lackluster' & Everything in Between

Suzee Skwiot | Feb 11, 2015 Movies

fifty shades of grey christian grey anastasia steeleWe're just two days away (or just a few hours for all you lucky midnight viewers) from the premiere of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. And while we're eagerly awaiting our own screening, a select group of fans, media outlets, and, well, Kim Kardashian have all had a sneak peek of the movie. And the reviews? Completely divided.

From claims that "most viewers will be seeking a safe word" just to escape the movie theater to massive praise for Dakota Johnson's acting, the film has drawn its fair share of criticisms and applause.

More from The Stir: Quiz: What's Your '50 Shades of Grey' Movie-Viewing Style?

And here, ladies and gentlemen, are excerpts from some of the best first-look reviews:

Are you excited for the film? How do you think it will compare to the book?


Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

  • Perfectly Mediocre


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "First off, I get it. This flick isn’t intended to be a polished work of high art, you just want an escapist night out," writes Mara Reinstein of Us Weekly. "But it’s not fun enough to be enjoyed over popcorn or emotionally charged enough to be taken seriously. It’s not even campy enough make it a future cult classic. It’s just mediocre. The most damming fate of all."

  • The Evasive 'O'


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gives the film a B- rating, and is quick to point out the sad, but obvious: "But even more frustrating to voyeurs, nobody sweats, nobody strains, nobody loses control or even fakes losing control by simulating an orgasm."

  • Where's the Plot?


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "It's like trying to mash up the sensibilities of Lars von Trier with Nancy Meyers to create an end product that will be appealing on a mass scale," writes Lindsey Bahr of The Associated Press. "In trying to please everyone, though, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has stripped away the fun and settled on palatable. There have been perfume commercials with more depth and story arc."

  • Simple Half-Star


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    Yes. Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave the film a mere half-star. And here's why: "This emotional tug-of-war sometimes involves literal rope, but the argument quickly grows tiresome (Kelly Marcel wrote the screenplay, a thankless job). Just as boring are the sex scenes, which -- let's face it -- are the only reason you might show up. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson brings a strangely dry and sanitized feel to the bedroom collisions (blue lighting, pop songs), which never get much kinkier than ice cubes and peacock feathers."

  • Red! Red! Red!


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "Lifted from the first of E.L. James' wildly successful novels, which started as a form of 'Twilight' fan fiction, the movie plays strictly by the book -- which is hardly a compliment," writes Indiewire's Eric Kohn. "Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson from Kelly Marcel's screenplay, the considerable talent behind the camera and a modicum of considerable performances yield a few undeniable guilty pleasures, but most viewers will be seeking a safe word to escape this two-hour-plus mess of half-baked excess."

  • Finally, a Real Love Story


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "Substituting heartache for handcuffs, Fifty Shades is the rare studio romance in which the characters actually try to understand one another," writes Time Out New York's David Ehrlich. "As this is the first installment of an epic trilogy, how much there is beneath the surface remains to be seen, but Taylor-Johnson seems genuinely interested in finding out. Fifty Shades may not make you come, but you’ll still be glad you went."

  • It's No 'Twilight'


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "Fifty Shades of Grey is not the lame, hot-and-bothered fantasy romance many, including myself, thought it would be," says Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair. "It’s got wit and humor and a modest intelligence about human behavior that, say, the Twilight movies never had. And there’s something almost sweetly nostalgic about it."

  • The S&M Power Game


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "Great art it's not," says The Telegraph's Tim Robey. But before you start questioning his statement, wait for the rest. "It's frisky, in charge of itself, and about as keenly felt a vision of this S&M power game we could realistically have expected to see."

    Pro, pro, pro.

  • Dakota? Perfect


    Image via Universal Pictures and Focus Features

    "Johnson is a true find: She's so committed, she makes Ana's every discovery — in or out of the bedroom — convincing," says the New York Daily News. "The movie aims to give Ana, in particular, a story and identity of her own. She's smarter and sassier than her literary counterpart, while Christian, thank goodness, is less creepy-stalkerish."

    That's one positive aspect we can definitely get behind. Ana is no longer one-dimensional and entirely submissive (pun absolutely intended). She has humor, authority, and sass. Thank you, Dakota.

  • Expectations vs. Reality


    Image via Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Studios and Focus Features

    "Fifty Shades of Grey is pure, unadulterated camp -- as it should be," says Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast. "Those coming into this silver screen tourist trap anticipating a complex psychosexual odyssey on a par with Last Tango in Paris need to adjust their expectations big-time. This is silly, fun camp. And not high-camp that crosses over into actual art, a la The Talented Mr. Ripley, but the kind of camp that’s best enjoyed while hunkered down on the couch emptying a cheap bottle of sauvignon blanc. The critics will have their claws out for this one, but in time, it will be appreciated for the spruced-up trash that it is."

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