On Friday 2/7/15 I was invited by Mandi from Smexybooks to be her +1 at The Today Show’s, Fifty Shade First Event. This event was to premiere the Fifty Shades of Grey movie for the fans a week before the movie is released on Friday 12/13 (in some cases, Thursday night, 12/12). This was a movie premiere event unlike any other, and a first The Today Show has done. All week long, leading up to this event, The Today Show would show clips from the movie and interview some of the cast members, the director and EL James, the author.
It’s been well documented about my honest criticism and disdain for the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. For those who may not be aware, Fifty Shades of Grey was once erotic Twilight fan fiction that was pulled and published, becoming a massive global hit with over 100 million copies sold. As there are many lovers and fans of the book series, there’s a great amount of “haters” or harsh critics of the books. I’m a very harsh critic of the trilogy, and in some circles I’m considered a “hater.” Some may ask, why then why would I go to the movie premiere then. Why not? Maybe I would be proven wrong and enjoy the movie, but on the other hand I might end up being even more critical. The movie viewing experience is very different from the reading experience. Book adaptations to screen can go either way. They can be a great success, bringing to life the book in such a way, it will astound you, while in other ways it may leave the you scratching your head, wondering what you watched and how it was gutted and completely different from the original reading material.
I attended the movie premiere from two different points of view. I would watch the movie as if I was a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey, the book, and then as a normal everyday person who hasn’t read the book and wanted to see the movie. When the lights went down for the next two hours, I left behind my feelings for Fifty Shades of Grey the book, and all the drama and controversy surrounding it, and was simply a person seeing a movie.
After the movie ended, I was completely stunned, as in my jaw dropped. The reason – I liked this movie, more than I thought I would, a great deal more. I really thought I would dislike it and find so many faults, much like the book. If you’re a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey book, you will eat up this movie and love it, hungry for more. If you haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, you will enjoy the movie for what it is and will be anxious to see Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel, which was announced as moving forward. Fifty Shades of Grey was very entertaining, with many moments of humor and a romance that should appeal to both men and women. It’s a perfect date movie, including one for Valentine’s Day. Those who are looking for more spice in their movies, Fifty Shades of Grey is the movie to see. The love scenes are well choreographed and sexy. When the time comes for the BDSM scenes, they are extremely well done and very erotic. If you’ve watched cable television shows like Sons and Anarchy and Game of Thrones, the sex is on par to what you find there, but with a little more titillation and heat, but nothing that will make you uncomfortable or have you squirming in your seat.
So why did the Fifty Shades of Grey movie work so well why the book doesn’t? Every cheesy WTF moment found in the book with the silly, ridiculous dialogue and fan fiction element was erased. The filmmakers made the right decision by taking out the eye rolling trademark phrases and dialogue like the “oh my’s” and “inner goddess” Anastasia Steele, the heroine loves to spew. Christian Grey, her hero’s trademark line, “later’s baby” is there, but the delivery of how it was spoken is cute and sweet. Christan’s twitchy palms is also in there, and again delivered in a great way. That tampon scene everyone was hoping would be shown? It was better left in the book. It had no place in this movie. The reason is because the love scenes and scenes of sexual bondage, torture and foreplay are tasteful and somewhat artistic in tone. The manic, abusive elements Christian portrays in the book are gone. His possessiveness is toned down enough in the movie that it’s believable. His reason he doesn’t do romance and needs to be a Dominant, and Ana his submissive isn’t farfetched when it’s revealed and explained.
The credit for making the Fifty Shades of Grey movie a success are because of four people. Out of the cast and production crew, I knew little of their resume and background. I have only see the work of Marcia Gay Harden (Christian’s mother), Jennifer Ehle (Ana’s mother) and Victor Rasuk (Jose, Ana’s friend and possible love interest). Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, are all unknowns to me. Kelly Marcel, the screenwriter and Sam Taylor Johnson deserve major kudos for their work. These two brought Fifty Shades of Grey to life in a way I would have never expected and admired. These two are just important as the actors on screen. The focus is on Ana and Christian, the main couple. All the other characters come and go and rarely have much screen time (Rita Ora as Mia, Christian’s sister is not even a blip, and when she speaks, you cringe. Here she is treated in more of a throwaway role, which is going to be interesting since Mia plays a bigger part in the next two novels). Kate Kavanagh, Ana’s best friend and roommate played by Eloise Mumford made the most with her role. She ate up the screen anytime she appeared. If given more screen time, she would have been a force of nature.
There has been many opinions about the casting of Ana and Christian. From the press tour and random scenes shown from the movie of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, it looks like they’re all wrong for the roles. Awkward and bad chemistry comes to mind. I’m a happy to say that Dakota and Jamie’s chemistry is alive and well in the movie. Jamie Dornan is the one everyone has concentrated on. He plays the role of Christian more than adequately, but there’s still a stiffness and remoteness to his portrayal. I’m not sure if this was intentional, but even though I wasn’t as enthralled with him as I should be, I will say that when it came to the love scenes and BDSM centric action, he made me believe he was a true Dominant. His delivery, whether it was seducing Ana or blindfolding and tying her up and flogging her was, panty dropping, I need to take a cold shower ASAP. This man let loose and wild, no holds barred sexual takeover in the sex scenes. He doesn’t have a waxed and ripped body, which was a surprise, again in a good way, but you won’t be disappointed by his naked butt shots and his happy trail leading to the promised land.
The one person who deserves more praise than anyone else is Dakota Johnson. Jamie plays second fiddle to her. I had some concerns with her in the beginning. The first twenty minutes are the most problematic. It sets up the story and the introduction of Ana, the college English literature senior, about to graduate, and Christian, the twenty-seven elusive billionaire. Dakota was channeling Kristen Stewart ala Bella Swan from Twilight in the first fifteen minutes, complete with being clumsy and falling to the floor in Christian’s office, to the non-stop lip biting. But the lip-biting is somewhat of an inside joke. Now I understand perfectly why on some promotional movie posters, Dakota is biting her lip. It becomes a running joke, throughout the movie, but one that fits. The moment I become invested in this movie, and knew it was a winner was the scene where Dakota as Ana gets drunk and drunks dials Christian (very well-known scene in the book). That five minute scene shows Dakota’s comedic skills, which is throughout the movie. She starts out as this almost fragile, plain and basic young woman, who transforms into a more self-assured saucy, tells it like she means it woman. I would go as far to say she steals some of the scenes away from Jamie. Also the love scenes, including the BDSM ones where she’s on full display, showing everything from her chest to her navel and even lower, is admirable. It shows a strength and courage not many actress are willing to do. Dakota as Ana keeps her girl next door package, but also brings out her temptress. Dakota has a “real” type of body. Nothing is fake. The way the love scenes are filmed show Dakota in all her glory, down to the baby fine hairs on her legs and even the dimples and noticeable bumps that all women have. That’s something that should be applauded, and highlights the beauty a woman’s body has. Simply put, Dakota owns the Ana role and runs with it.
Fifty Shades of Grey is a Rom-Com with dark undertones. The first half appears to be a romantic comedy and then slowly becomes more intense and serious. The humor isn’t out of place, and when we get to that point where Christian shows Ana his red room of pain, as she calls it, you’re invested completely, wanting to stay with Ana and Christian, even during their most private intimate moments, no matter how dark they may seem.
Fifty Shades of Grey is a solid romance with more to it than girl meets boy, boy and girl connect, and then boy loses girl. The ending has you gasping because it’s so sudden, like a smack of a whip on your back. It leaves you panting for more. I’m now anxious to see Fifty Shades of Darker and see where Sam, Ana and Jamie can take the next installment of Ana and Christian’s romance.
If you’re a fan of romantic movies, see Fifty Shades of Grey.
The one hope I have for the success of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is that Hollywood will look to more romance novels or romantic fiction and give them a chance to come to life on the big screen. It might just happen now because Fifty Shades of Grey proves romance can entertain, just as it has for decades of dedicated romance readers, like myself. Now the entire world can see that and will understand why.