Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews. Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection. How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z). Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection, but this is mine so don’t judge me. This is simply for fun.
We have finally reached the letter “F” in A-Z Movie Reviews and I have been waiting to get to this one because I knew my Fifty Shades movies were coming up. It’s been a long time since I watched Fifty Shades of Grey so I was really excited to finally crack my blu-ray open.
As you know, here at Fangirlish we are fans of the Fifty Shades movies and have talked about them quite a few times but we can always revisit them. I own the extended unrated edition which is what I watched last night. It’s not much different than the theatrical release, but I’ll get to that later in this review as I unpack the things I loved.
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.
Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.
What drew me to this story was that Ana sounded like a character I could relate to. I’m not a literature student but it sounded like an interesting story especially because I had never read anything about a guy into BDSM. It’s a taboo subject but like most people who picked up the book, I was extremely curious. After I read Fifty Shades of Grey I devoured the second and third books and I lost a lot of sleep reading every single one.
This story draws you in and I could not put it down. I know some people did not like the writing style or Ana’s character because she was a bit naïve but I loved it. When I found out we were getting a movie, I was beyond thrilled.
Okay so, I am going to be honest, initially when I heard that Dakota Johnson was cast as Anastasia, I was on the fence. Before Fifty Shades, the only role I had seen her in was as Amelia in The Social Network which was a pretty brief one. I liked her in that movie but wasn’t sure how she would pull off playing Ana since I hadn’t seen any bigger performances from her.
I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt especially when it comes to casting for movies and TV so I had to stop myself from thinking negative and said I would wait till I saw her in character before making any type of judgments.
I’m very glad I did because Dakota truly nailed the role of Anastasia Steele. From the moment I saw the trailer I was like, “Yup, that’s Anna 100%.” When I watched the film I was even more impressed and it made me an even bigger fan of her.
She was extremely impressive to me because she was able to bring Ana’s innocence in the first half of the film. There were so many subtle things that she did like making her voice softer, certain looks she gave, and the way she carried herself to showcase that. After she meets Christian, she becomes more mature and her whole demeanor changes and I love the way Dakota did that.
We all know Charlie Hunnam was originally cast in the role of Christian Grey before he backed out and Jamie stepped in. I personally am glad Charlie backed out because I wasn’t sold on him playing Christian. Don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie Hunnam too but, when they announced he was cast, I wasn’t excited.
When I saw Jamie Dornan had been cast, I was once again a little uncertain because I had no idea who he was. When I read that EL James had thought of him when she saw him in The Fall as Paul Spector, I subscribed to Netflix just to watch. Although his character is a serial killer, I understood what she saw. He had a magnetizing personality onscreen and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His performance was amazing so I knew then and there he would be able to handle the role of Christian Grey.
Christian is a complex character with some darkness of his own that Jamie really brought out. I loved watching the changes in him throughout the film but I especially loved when he finally got into the red room with Ana. He nailed Christian’s assertiveness and there was a total difference in him that was exactly like I pictured in the book.
Sam Taylor Johnson
There were lots of mixed feelings from people about the way that Sam Taylor Johnson brought Fifty Shades of Grey to life but I loved what she did. I think of this film the same way I think about Twilight, and After. Although everything wasn’t exactly like the books, these films will always have a special place in my heart. People fail to realize if we didn’t get the first of any of these films, and all the support, there would be no more made.
Look, as I have said countless times, adapting a book for the screen will always be a challenge and you will never make everyone happy. It’s not possible. I just say, try to pull at least one thing that means something to you in every film. I’m sure if you look deeper, you can find that one thing.
I have lots of things I love about Fifty Shades of Grey, I think it was beautifully shot and there were so many amazing sequences. One of my favorite things is actually the way the opening was done. The film opens with both Christian and Ana going about their day but we never get a full reveal of Christian’s face until Ana does when she shows up at his office. I loved it because Sam wanted the audience to feel as awe struck as Ana the first time she saw him and it worked so well.
I love, love, love the set design for this film. Escala where Christian lives is my absolute favorite and just what I imagined in the book. The entire production team did a fantastic job of creating it and the behind the scenes extras are so fun to watch. Obviously, I also loved the Red Room too. It’s one of the biggest set pieces all Fifty Shades fans were waiting to see and it looked great. Every bit of the room was perfect. It always amazes me what people come up with and how much work goes into creating such beautiful set pieces.
I love film soundtracks and scores especially the ones for Fifty Shades of Grey. There are so many tracks that fit perfectly in the movie. My personal favorites are Annie Lennox’s version of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ during the opening credits, Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy in Love’ when Ana and Christian are in the red room for the first time, and ‘One Last Night’ by Vaults during the glider scene.
Not only is the soundtrack good, the score by Danny Elfman is also pretty amazing. Danny Elfman does great scores and his work on Fifty Shades of Grey is no different. Each song is beautiful and makes you feel all of the emotions they are meant to evoke. I kid you not, I used to listen to it every night to fall asleep.
As I said at the beginning of this, I watched the extended unrated edition of Fifty Shades of Grey. There weren’t too many differences but we can go over them. The sex scenes are a teeny bit different but nothing too different than the theatrical ones. There are a few added scenes like Ana and Christian riding home from her graduation which I actually did like and felt could have stayed.
There is also an alternate ending which in my opinion we didn’t need. At first I thought we did because it shows Christian finding the note she left with the model helicopter for him and her sad and preparing to start her job at SIP. The more I thought about it though, it would have just messed up the pacing of the film so I think having the movie end the way it started with Ana inside of the elevator saying “Christian” as the doors closed was perfect.
- Still hard to believe that Ana would find parking so easily on the street at Grey House during a busy work week no less.
- That moment when Ana steps out into the rain after interviewing Christian, yeah, me too girl.
- If you’re hungry, make your own sandwich Kate!
- Using a movie still of Jamie in Claytons Hardware as one of Christians pictures when Ana googles him, still bugs me.
- Anas mom can tell her to use her air miles to fly to Georgia if she needs a break but she can’t get on a plane to watch her daughter graduate?
- That connoisseur of tape line….
- Still love the little reference to Jamie’s role as a serial killer in The Fall during the scene in Claytons.
- Ana’s outfit during Christian’s photo shoot is still one of my favorites.
- Not sure how Ana’s mom having four husbands makes her an “incurable romantic.”
- I will always remember the woman who shouted “oh shit!” in the theatre when Christian bit Anas toast.
- EL James has a cameo, can you find her?
- Jose, “no, means no.”
- Rita Oras wig is a big no for me and it made her look so much older than how I pictured Mia.
- Some people complained about being able to hear Jamie’s Irish accent in some parts of the film but, considering the fact that he came in at the very last minute with little preparation, I think he did a great job.
- Ana, if you’re in your own bedroom, you don’t have to look over your shoulder if you want to google the word “submissive.”
Do you like Fifty Shades Of Gray? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below!
Fifty Shades of Grey is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.