Ariel's Reaction: The Fifty Shades of Grey Movie was Better than the First Book

snark week fifty shades of grey movie
Matt made this nifty logo for Snark Week. Best blog partner ever!

Today my boyfriend [Jeremy says: Hi ] and I went to see the Fifty Shades of Grey film, and the nicest thing I can say is that I enjoyed it more than the first book! Overall, the whole experience of seeing the movie, though, was…odd, mundane, and frankly pretty boring.

We saw the movie at a cinema in Leicester Square, and I only mention the location because between the previews and the movie starting, all of a sudden the curtains shut. I jokingly suggested to Jeremy that someone was going to come out on stage to MC the film, but then someone actually fucking got on stage. Random Odeon Employee walks out and, I shit you not, says, “Fifty Shades of Grey premiered here Thursday, and Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and EL James were all in attendance at this very theatre. With that in mind, please enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey.” 

Well thanks, guy. Now that I know Dornan and Johnson were lacking chemistry all over this room, that will definitely increase my enjoyment of this movie tenfold! I can understand why cheesesteak joints in Philadelphia find it necessary to put pictures of celebrities who have enjoyed their cheesesteaks up on the wall (if it was good enough for Bruce Willis than it’s good enough for me!), but why the fuck would I care that an actor came to the movie premier in a certain cinema? It’s not like they were in the room while I was watching and this introduction was a massive hint that I shouldn’t laugh at all the wrong times or snort loudly whenever Christian uttered a classically laughable line like, “I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard.”

I think what shocked me the most was that there were people laughing hysterically at what are arguably the right times. To be fair, Johnson did deliver some lines very charmingly and they came across much cuter and sometimes wittier than in the books. But I think the fits of laughter caused by stupid lines such as, “Like your X-box and stuff?” were because the majority of the audience was comprised of large groups of middle-aged women dressed like they were going on a night out.

I’m sure these groups of gal pals were thrilled by the sex scenes, which were significantly better than the ones in the books (because there was never any dialogue or a mention of Ana’s subconscious or inner goddess), but still pretty dull overall.

But Ariel, why were these sex scenes so dull? Well, concerned reader, it was because no matter how many terrible things the movie managed to filter out, no matter how many times Ana doesn’t utter “holy crap”, it doesn’t create a plot or a convincing love story. It doesn’t hide the fact that the “story” is still just a bunch of disjointed scenes where we’re supposed to believe in Ana and Christian’s love story which blossomed in all of 30 unconvincing seconds.

Even the BDSM-ish sex scenes, accompanied by dramatic music that put me on edge and made me feel as though Christian was going to suddenly murder Ana, were pretty tame. Christian ties Ana’s hands together! Christian spanks Ana a couple times! Christian brushes Ana’s skin with a peacock feather…while her hands are tied! [Jeremy says: There was, however, a great scene where the director manages to make Christian whipping Anna look like some sort of slave persecution scene from an epic biblical film.]

The movie was very pretty, but it was all superficial with no substance. And when I say pretty, I mean, some of Ana’s dresses were amazing and the shots of Seattle were great.

The saddest thing, though, is that I could actually have argued in favour of a bit of substance if this wasn’t a trilogy. Walk with me for a minute. If you just look at the movie as its own piece of work separate from the book, it was a big fat OK. Sure, sometimes the scenes between Ana and Christian were just completely wooden, but sometimes they were nice. The sex scenes were fine and there were no mentions of “detonations” or “OH MY, he touched me….down there.” And you could argue that the story is all about innocent Ana getting sucked into Christian’s world, realizing it’s not for her because he’s got a darkness that can’t just be cured by The Power of Love, and then when it gets too much she finds her strength and leaves him.

That’s actually not all that terrible. It makes the last scene of the movie pretty cool. I think Johnson did a great job with the final scene, and I think it was great they left out the part where Christian gives Ana that dumb model glider at the end. I liked that instead they ended it on a moment that echoed their first meeting when Christian and Ana say one another’s names as she’s getting into the elevator. If that was the end, I’d still think this story was flawed as shit (I am still not convinced of their epic love at all. I’m pretty sure they never hold a conversation about, like, anything), but I could have argued in favour of it a whole lot more. Knowing that it’s a trilogy, that Ana and Christian get back together in like a day and that her ~love~ is all powerful and healz all his tragic man-pain, renders any ground the movie gained with me completely lost.

Even though I think the director may have tried to tone down Christian’s creepiness, it’s just inevitable, like all the movies in the trilogy making shit loads of money no matter what. The scene where he gets angry at Ana for drinking too much still comes across as weird and disconcerting even though Jamie Dornan, bless him, is tryin’ real hard to just seem concerned. All the times he orders her to eat make me uncomfortable. And there were 3-5 times he scares the crap out of Ana (like when he shows up at work, when he shows up in her apartment, when he shows up in Georgia. Are we seeing a pattern?) It’s impossible to hide how creepy Christian is and how this very easily could have been a horror movie.

To be extra fair to the movie, though, I really liked Ana’s drunken side of the conversation when she calls Christian and he tells her off. Johnson was cute and funny during it, and there’s a nice touch where she makes an awkward comment to the girl waiting in line near her for the bathroom. It made me miss watching her in Ben and Kate (RIP). Although I don’t think there was consistent chemistry between the actors and sometimes the lines were painfully wooden, there were some good moments on the parts of both Johnson and Dornan.

"ana and christian driving, fifty shades of grey"
You’re welcome, you two.

I haven’t even touched on the minor characters yet [Jeremy says: Where the fuck even was Rita Ora?], and I have quite a bit to say about their scenes (or lack thereof.) So tune in when I write about the weird 30 second dinner scene with Christian’s family, Elliot, Jose “dios mio” Rodriguez, Kate, and Mia who was in it for maybe 2.5 seconds. We also need to talk about how Ana only ate one piece of toast the whole movie, and how there were a lot of pubes. I’m sorry for putting toast and pubes in the same sentence.

Just a head’s up, Matt and I are still super excited about Snark Week, but we’ve both had some unexpected craziness come up for both of us, so our content schedule is a bit up in the air. We’ll post when we can, and of course we’re dying to hear what you guys thought of the movie or if you have any awesome links to share with us about the film.

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12 comments

    • 22aer22 Reply

      That’s brilliant. Savvy marketers looking to cash in on the Fifty Shades franchise could market blindfolds to both fans and haters alike! I love it.

      I also wish I’d thought to bring a blindfold with me to that one Hulk movie they made years ago before they remade it another like 12 times. I fell asleep halfway through it was so boring, and a blindfold would have made that nap sooo much better.

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  1. Gee Reply

    I had a similar reaction-it was more enjoyable than the book, probably because the female protagonist was actually likeable in the film-no alter egos and moronic inner monologue, she actually came across as clever and witty, I enjoyed her. But then, I really liked her on Ben and Kate so I wasn’t upset about her being cast like the rest of the world. But it got boring-basically every scene was just the two of them, sort of interacting, and then he touches her face. Seriously, there were so many close ups of him touching her face I was starting to feel like déjà vu because it was constant. On the upside, she’s hosting SNL in two weeks, and I can’t wait for those jokes.

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  2. Kristin Reply

    I had GF go see it this weekend. She had gone on and on about it on FB for days. She was so excited!! (Insert appropriate fangirl squee here)

    She left halfway through. She said it was just terrible (to which I reminded her that the books were too) and she FINALLY admitted that seeing it on screen finally convinced her I was right!!!

    Also, I am confused by all the people who are mad at the ending. Did they not read the book to realize how it ended? Or did they miss the part where this was a movie based on Book 1 and not all 3?

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    • Leanne Reply

      Sometimes I guess you just need to hear bad dialogue to know how bad it is… at least the rest of the effects of the poor writing were mostly negated, though. One can only hope that seeing the movie will finally make EL James realize how bad her writing is and she’ll stop fighting the screenwriter creatively for the sequels, but considering who we’re talking about I seriously doubt it.

      I don’t get why people are mad, either, except for the fact that it is a pretty downer ending for something supposedly “romantic”, but I can only assume the ones complaining were the fans, right? I mean, what exactly were they hoping for? They’d probably be even more upset if the ending was changed anyway, so I guess it just goes to show that you can never please the fanbase.

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  3. Kate Reply

    I was supposed to go see the movie with a bunch of my friends from the English department at my school on Sunday… and then the city of Boston noped the fuck out of that plan by shutting down the entire MBTA all day, and only giving limited service today. We’re hoping to see it on Wednesday after class, but we might be getting too much snow. And if that fails, we’re hoping to see it next weekend, but (say it with me now) we might be getting too much snow.
    Clearly, the universe does not want me to see this movie.

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    • Irish Skye Reply

      Kate, listen to the Universe. It’s trying to SAVE YOU! 😀 Honestly, this is money out of your pocket and time out of your life that you are going to want back. Stay home and stare up at the ceiling for 2 hours; you’ll have spent your time more productively. Or go sledding since you have the snow. Don’t let this movie suck out 2 hours of your life (plus travel time to and from the theater) for something as mind-numbingly dull as FSOG. Ariel has already made that sacrifice for us.

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      • 22aer22 Reply

        The only argument I have in favour of seeing it is that EL James probably needs more money.

        Jokes. Actually, the only argument I have for seeing it is getting in on the BBGT fun! But otherwise Skye is right and it’s a massive waste of life and money. I’m into the sledding idea.

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  4. Brittney Gabbard Reply

    I saw the movie with people who are fans of the book.

    When Ana got that text in Georgia about how many drinks was she going to have, I leaned over and whispered to my friend, “The call is coming from inside the house.”

    My friend was not terribly amused, though I don’t know what she expected when I came along. It’s too rude to live-tweet and there was no way I was sitting through that movie with out some outlet for snark.

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  5. Pingback: Matthew's Reaction: Fifty Shades of Fatigue - Bad Books, Good Times

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