'50 Shades' Review: The Final Cut Will Leave You Wanting More

hardware store christian grey anastasia steele fifty shades movieAfter years of anticipation (seriously, the hoopla has been going on since the first stories caught on with online fans some 4+ years ago!), Fifty Shades of Grey has made its way to the big screen. And the verdict? Fans of the at-times unnerving and unrealistic but also romantic love story between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele can breathe a sigh of relief.

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Ever since the final cast was announced, skeptics (and/or Matt Bomer and/or Alexis Bledel fans) have wailed about Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan being cast in the lead roles. Fans have wrung their hands that the chemistry simply won't spark between the pairing. Even if you're still convinced of ALL of that going into it, know this: Like Mr. Grey himself, the final result aims to please. Almost to a fault. 

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The worst example of this is the interview scene, which follows the book so closely that it's hard not to crack a smirk or actually laugh out loud at parts that simply aren't meant to be funny. No one is to blame, exactly -- you know, except for Erika Leonard, the woman behind the schlocky, cringe-worthy writing that the dialogue is painfully based on.

Thankfully, from EL's lemons, director Sam Taylor-Johnson and screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Patrick Marber managed to stir up palatable lemonade. Their crowning achievement BY FAR? The transformation of Ana from the book's mousy, insecure, "holy cow!"-crowing ingenue to the film's far sassier, curious but confident, and smart heroine! YES!

She has no problem calling Christian out on his off-putting, formal behavior! She'll figure out what she wants to do about that strange contract on her own watch! She puts him in his place with the notorious contract in a sexy scene that actually doesn't culminate with sex! Movie Ana wields so much power over Christian. We almost forgot who was the dominant and who was the submissive! (Okay, maybe not quite ...)

But it's because of this far more satisfying female lead that it's easier to get behind the romance. It feels more fulfilling to root for this Ana who is falling in love with bad, broken Christian but also isn't just going along for the ride on his terms whilst sporadically responding with shock ("holy crap!") and disillusionment ("my inner goddess, her lips contorted in a snarl!").

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Obviously, Dakota Johnson has something to do with that, as well. For fans to really root for her, our on-screen Ana had to be shy but intelligent, sexy in a modest, girl-next-door way, innocent but open-minded, empathetic but mature enough to say "this is what I want" and "this is NOT what I want" when dealing with ol' Fifty Shades. Dakota fires on all those cylinders. And then some! Because she manages to deliver very well-timed comic relief throughout the flick, too. 

While giggling at awkward scenes that too closely follow the book and cheering on/laughing with Ana are all well and good, what about the SEX?! Well, there's a little something for everyone. If you think Jamie Dornan is hot, you're in for a treat. He flaunts his washboard abs and booty a plenty. (And looks yummy in all manner of gray ties and white button-down shirts! Which almost makes up for the Irish actor's not-so-fantastic American accent ...) There's also the sweet, sensual sex scene peppered with some Skinemax-grade humping, the just-rough-enough, spontaneous sex scene, the moody, post-sad piano playing sex, and let's not forget the Red Room of Pain sex play set to Beyonce (what's not to like about that?).

(Side note: One naked part not included in this list -- because most would agree it's not about sex but about Ana trying to understand Christian -- is the final scene in the playroom, which does not go well and is painful to watch. Not because it's poorly executed, but because it's sad and disturbing ... So, be warned.)

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Ironically, although this is a story featuring BDSM sex play, the ultimate goal here was to appeal to as many tastes as possible. In other words, they whipped us up a big ol' batch of eye candy in a singular flavor: Vanilla!

But that's okay. Fifty Shades fans never needed avant-garde, high-brow, Lars von Trier sex scenes or expected anything X-rated to make it to theaters. They just wanted to see the fantasy come to life.

Could the film have done more to make that happen? Sure. But does it do well enough? Totally. And that's why it's going to leave plenty of audiences feeling like Ana and wanting more!

Are you seeing Fifty Shades? If you saw it, what did you think?

 

Image via Universal

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