OPINION: Bad Acting, Bad Writing, Bad Story but That's Not Why 'Fifty Shades' Is a Failure
With the third and final "Fifty Shades" movie, “Fifty Shades Freed” in theaters, the trilogy of the series is complete. And with that, it closes the book on the most criticized film trilogy of all time. And why is that? Is it the script? The cast? The acting? Is Eddie Murphy in any of these films?
All three movies, starting with 2015's “Fifty Shades Of Grey” made half a billion dollars on a $40 million budget, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com but got a 25 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The sequel, 2017's “Fifty Shades Darker” made slightly less in the box office and received an even worse rating from Rotten Tomatoes — 10 percent! To be fair, sequels are rarely better than the first. For good measure, “Fifty Shades Freed” currently has an 11 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
When British author E.L. James wrote “Fifty Shades Of Grey” in 2011, it was a worldwide best-seller. “Darker”and “Freed” soon followed, with success, and from then on, it was only a matter of time before it would get the Hollywood treatment. Bidding for the rights started in 2013. Universal Studios and Focus Features won the bid at $5 million.
From the start, the controversy began with the most important part of movies after the script: the casting. Many were looked at, but the male lead was originally Charlie Hunnam, a British actor most know for “Sons Of Anarchy." However, scheduling conflicts caused him to drop out of the project, and Irish actor Jamie Dornan would take the title role weeks later. Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, was named as the female lead. It was not a popular choice for Johnson to be cast, mainly because she wasn't the first choice, or perhaps nepotism.
So if you have two relatively unknown actors with a toned-down script, no good can come of it. Unless you are the Razzies Committee!
The Golden Raspberry Awards, (known as the Razzies), are the Oscars of bad movies. You can still have a hit movie, but that doesn't exclude you from being nominated for a Razzie. "Shades" is no exception. The first film got six Razzie nominations, with five wins, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Dornan), Worst Actress (Johnson), Worst Screen Combo (Dornan and Johnson) and Worst Screenplay in 2016's event, held the night before the Oscars. “Fifty Shades Darker” has eight nominations. No doubt "Freed" will get the Razzie love (or hate) come 2019.
So it's been determined that the actors, the screenplay and the story lines seem to be the culprits in why the trilogy brings the haters.
Another problem according to the reviews: the pacing. This is what has brought movies down in this decade, for some reason. It's what made the difference in 007 movies when comparing 2015's “Spectre,” a complete disappointment, to 2012's “Skyfall," for example.
If the pacing in a film has issues, not keeping up with stories and character development and all that goes with that, then the film itself will have issues. And that's a part (among others) of what has made the “Fifty Shades” film franchise a massive letdown critically.
Who knows, with the amount of money the three films made, a reboot could be in the works in the near future. E.L. James would love that, wouldn't she?
Jay Dawg is co-host of "Cail and Company," which airs noon-3 p.m. Monday-Friday on 107.7 WTPL The Pulse and 107.3 WEMJ.