The Fifty Shades Freed reviews are in... and they're not great

Ben Arnold
Contributor

The Fifty Shades of Grey movies have almost reached a finale, with Fifty Shades Freed, the third book in E.L. James’ erotic trilogy, poised to be unveiled on big screen.

Jamie Dornan appears to be relieved that he’s completed his contractual obligations, telling Lorraine Kelly he’s all done and dusted with the whips and whatnot.

“Um yeah, I think so. I don’t think there’s any… I mean there’s no other books. [E.L. James] wrote the first two books again from Christian’s perspective, but I guess we’ve already seen… we’ve done those films, the same story, so they won’t do that again,” he said.

“Unless Erica keeps writing, but Dakota and I are – particularly me, I’m getting too old for this.”

It could be a merciful release, because some of the first reviews are in, and much like the first two movies, they’re not great.

Variety calls it ‘a glittery but less exciting finale’.

“Every word is a safe one in Fifty Shades Freed, a Swarovski-dipped series closer that takes no chances,” writes Guy Lodge.

And apparently even the ‘lightly spiced’ sex on screen isn’t up to snuff these days.

“Indeed, a sex-free, PG-13 version of Freed could be cut without shedding a second of narrative coherence, such as it is; one could ask what the point of that would be, though similar queries might be leveled at the film as it stands,” he goes on.

“Intentionally or otherwise, however, perhaps there’s a rueful truth to the gradual dwindling of the films’ kink levels: Sex is just a thing Anastasia and Christian do now, as it is for many a married couple until, in some cases, it eventually isn’t even that any more.”

“Closing the book on what’s arguably one of the worst film franchises in recent memory, Fifty Shades Freed doesn’t quite end with the bang one would hope for,” adds Jordan Mintzer in The Hollywood Reporter.

“In terms of drama, or melodrama, or just bad drama, Freed rarely delivers the goods while trying hard to give fans what they came for: more visits to the ‘playroom’ for some lightweight sadomasochism, more eye-rolling plot mechanics involving Christian Grey’s troubled past, more reactionary views on love and marriage, more money shots of sports cars, private jets and vacation homes that only the 1% can afford, and more attempts to turn what may be one of the duller couples to ever grace the screen into two captivating characters. For good measure, the filmmakers also toss in a butt plug.”

Screen International’s Ben Croll agrees that it’s all rather ‘half-hearted’.

“While we can quibble about the underused lead or the meandering plot, Fifty Shades Freed ultimately authors its own most stinging rebuke, closing on an extended montage highlighting major moments and turning points from the trilogy. Tellingly, none of them come from this film,” he writes.

On the up side, IndieWire viewed it more through the prism of it being a ‘sex comedy’, which appears to have made the whole thing much more palatable.

“Finally, the ‘Fifty Shades’ phenomenon has yielded a disarming comedy that makes this ridiculous material fun to watch,” writes Maneula Lazic.

Fifty Shades Freed is out across the UK on February 9.

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