To me the definition of a hype movie is a film that does not live up to the insane amount of advertising the production company throws at us. Or, a film that is based on an incredibly popular book/book series but does not deliver.
There are of course, the few exceptions where the film passes all expectations. However the film I'm going to discuss doesn't only not live up to the hype of the book and the promo but is simply a terrible movie. Well, what can you expect when the book is Fifty Shades of Grey.
As I am not a middle-aged housewife I didn’t read the books. Curiosity did get the better of me once and I read the first page of a copy I didn’t buy in Tesco. I don’t think I’ve ever been put off a book so quickly in my entire life. I am in no way a prude, in fact I own several call girl books; it wasn’t the idea of the adult scenes that made me put the book back on the shelf, rather the appalling writing. Fifty Shades is a fan fiction of Twilight and in that first page it was obvious. The stereotype of fan fiction being poorly written was well and truly upheld in those first few lines and did nothing to encourage me further.
With the knowledge of how poor the source material was, I had no intention of watching a watered-down fan fiction porno. That is until the trailer for the second film in the series bombarded every YouTube video I tried to watch. I have to admit, it made me interested. The over the top sensationalism of ‘the red room’ and what is actually classed as abuse didn’t intrigue me. The storyline of Christian Grey did. The trailer showed a woman appearing around corners and at the foot of Anna’s bed. Who was she? What did she want with Anna? What the hell was going on with Christian to mean there is a woman like that stalking Anna?
I was pulled in by the trailer, so I guess it did its job.
My first reaction to watching Fifty Shades was, ‘what the hell was all the fuss about?’ I was surprised at how little sex was actually in it, especially after the amount of hype it raised. Though I definitely saw far more of Dakota Johnson that I had expected.
When you actually get down to the core of who Christian Grey is, the story is rather sadistic. A young boy suffers in one life, and then is sexually abused in the next. This character needs some serious help.
Then there’s Anna. A senior in college who seemingly has an orgasm in the street after meeting Grey for the first time. I have read many a critique on Johnson’s performance, or lack thereof, but you have to accept that she did what she could with the ridiculous script.
The utterly not subtle scenes based on Twilight are laughable (don’t judge, but the Twilight films are a guilty pleasure of mine). I understand that it is fan fiction, but surely the filmmakers could have given it its own life and not take scenes almost directly from the young-adult fantasy movies.
The dialogue literally made me laugh out loud. You can see the anguish in the actors’ eyes when having to deliver such drivel. The wooden and stilted interactions between characters made this feel as though an inexperienced first-year film student had been given an absurd budget and told ‘go ahead’. If this is the standard to which a film can be successful, then we all have a chance of getting our work out there.
Perhaps studios should look at the source material with better eyes and think twice about whether it really deserves to be encapsulated in film or not.