Plot: What’s it about?
I can’t remember when it was, exactly, but I’d heard the talk of Fifty Shades of Grey. As a long time subscriber to Entertainment Weekly, I do keep up on the latest and greatest in the world of entertainment and, personal opinions aside, this was a hot topic. I’d read that the books were poorly written and were essentially one step above trashy romance novels. Nevertheless they made tons of money and we all knew the day would come when they were turned into feature-length films. The movie opened on Valentine’s Day 2015 (because what better way to tell the one you love than take them to a movie featuring BDSM) to generally negative reviews. However, that didn’t stop the film from raking in over half a billion dollars worldwide. And now, here it sits in my Blu-ray player. Is it really as bad as everyone says it is or will I see something they all don’t?
Eccentric billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) is something of a prodigy. Though it’s never explained in the movie (perhaps the book?), he runs a corporation and is the apple of everyone’s eye. Soon to graduate Literature student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) is sent by her roommate to interview Grey and after a few awkward moments, is summarily dismissed. However something about Ana catches Christian’s eye and the two start an unconventional romance. Ana discovers some of Grey’s secrets in the bedroom as she enjoys the freedom of dating a man who can give her anything she desires. However as the relationship progresses, Ana becomes more and more concerned with Christian’s non-commitment and his desire to seemingly control anything and everything. Are the spoils of his success worth the roles she has to play?
And that’s basically it. I remember a while back when I saw Basic Instinct, that I thought it was pretty raunchy. Then again that film was more of a murder mystery that had me (and audiences) on the edge of their seats. The chemistry between Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas was palpable and, combined with a great story, turned out to be a great film. Fifty Shades of Grey is no Basic Instinct. I found Jamie Dornan to be about as interesting as a sheet of paper. He seemed like he was reading his lines off cue cards. Dakota Johnson gives the far better performance, but there’s still not a whole lot there. Having never read the novels (yes, there are two more), I don’t know how true to the source material this is, but I’d have to imagine it’s close. If you’re looking to be entertained, there are tons of other films to do that. If you’re looking to see Dakota Johnson naked for two hours, well then – this one’s for you.
Video: How’s it look?
Though the film is set in the Seattle area, it’s not as bleak as you might think. Granted I’ve never personally been to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve heard that it’s not so much the rain, but the perpetual cloud cover that’s depressing. Yes, there are areas of grey (I simply couldn’t resist) in some of the exterior shots, but there are also a plethora of warmly-lit scenes that were actually quit intriguing. Detail is top notch and there’s only a few inches of Dakota Johnson’s body that you don’t see. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image is certainly indicative of a new to Blu-ray film and I highly doubt that viewers will be disappointed.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Save for a few moments when songs fill the atmosphere, there really isn’t much to crow about with the included DTS HD Master Audio track. The movie is essentially dialogue-driven, though the content of said dialogue I’ll leave to you, the viewer. Some subtle ambiance can be heard from the surrounds in some exterior scenes, a few in a nightclub and the rest are saved for Dakota Johnson’s moans of pleasure (hey, you knew what you were getting into when you clicked on this review). While not anything mind-blowing, the film does a nice job with the audio mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The World of Fifty Shades of Grey – Friends and Family – This segment profiles cast members including Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Marcia Gay Harden, Luke Grimes, Jennifer Ehle, Victor Rasuk and Rita Ora.
- Behind the Shades – Director Sam Taylor-Johnson, producers E. L. James, Mike De Luca and Dana Brunetti, actors Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and the rest of the cast talk about the making of the movie, including a candid discussion about the most challenging aspects of the story.
- Fifty Shades of Grey Unrated and Theatrical Versions – The Unrated version is 3 minutes longer, though it’s nice to have both included.
- Exclusive Tease of the Next Movie Fifty Shades Darker – A 15 second clip in which you see Christian put on a “Lone Ranger” type of mask.
- The World of Fifty Shades of Grey – Discover the artistry involved in creating everything Fifty Shades of Grey, including in-depth profiles of stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, and the characters they play.
- Christian Grey – Inside the world of Christian Grey and what makes him so magnetic and mysterious.
- Christian Grey Profile – Illustrated with film clips- Who is Christian Grey?
- Jamie Dornan – Meet the actor behind the iconic character.
- Christian’s Apartment – Living room, dining room, bedroom, bathroom and the Red Room
- Christian’s Wardrobe – A look into Christian’s wardrobe.
- A Rich Man’s Toys – Christian’s cars, the plane, the helicopter, all of the recognizable items from the book, now on screen
- All About Ana – Learn more about the Ana character
- Dakota Johnson’s Profile – Meet the incredible actress behind Anastasia Steele.
- Ana’s World – Beginning with her life as college student to her transformation into a woman living a life of luxury with Christian Grey.
- Ana’s Wardrobe – A look into Ana’s wardrobe.
Ana- Discovering Ana and what makes her so compelling and relatable.
The Bottom Line
Never let it be said that just because a film isn’t well-reviewed that it can’t rake in the bucks. And, of course, sex sells. I personally found myself waiting for the ending credits to roll about 15 minutes into the movie, but I’m certain there are those out there that liked it. The Blu-ray delivers a great picture, above average sound and a plethora of extras that should tide die-hard fans over until the next installment graces us.