"Fifty Shades Darker" hits theaters this weekend and in case you were wondering, yes, critics hate it as much as they did "Fifty Shades of Grey." In fact, some are saying it's even worse - like "Showgirls" bad.
The second installment in the franchise starring Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele has a mere 13 percent approval rating from critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes, so far. While there are still plenty of reviews to come, only 3 out of 24 reviews give the erotic thriller props.
Vanity Fair critic Jordan Hoffman called it "the silly, good-natured trash masterpiece we deserve right now," while our TooFab review found it to be a "goofy, guilty pleasure," which may be one of the highest accolades the movie receives.
"The audience at our screening just started to open laugh halfway through the movie, and just about never stopped. That’s the appropriate way to watch 'Fifty Shades Darker,' appreciating the campiness and predictability, as well as the insanity and the shock at what is happening on screen," our TooFab critic wrote. "For a movie absolutely filled with sex, it's incredibly un-sexy, because they need to frame it just right to keep its R-rating, and because the dialogue leading up to the bedroom scenes is just too absurd. It's probably easy to get turned on if you're actually gonna get to sleep with Christian or Ana, but otherwise, the experience is mostly just a goofy, guilty pleasure."
If that's considered a good(ish?) review, then the following 7 reviews are easily the harshest.
USA Today critic Brian Truitt:
"There are a lot of negative things to be said about 'Fifty Shades Darker.' But it does impress in one sense: The erotica lite sequel somehow manages to be worse than the stupefyingly bad 'Fifty Shades of Grey.' Directed by James Foley ('Glengarry Glen Ross'), the abominable Darker takes its pair of complicated Seattle lovebirds — billionaire bondage aficionado Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his doe-eyed paramour Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) — on a second cinematic chapter filled with predictable twists, naked bedroom antics that could double as an infomercial for Sex Toys R Us, and unintentionally hilarious dialogue."
Newark Star-Ledger critic Stephen Whitty:
"The problem isn't that the story traffics in wish-fulfillment fantasies and high-end product porn... No, it's that there aren't any interesting characters here, or noticeable dramatic conflict. Hell, there's barely any plot. Just various scenes of the two leads getting horizontal, or vertical, while pop songs pound away on the soundtrack, and director James Foley - who once made movies like 'Glengarry Glen Ross' - mechanically moves things along. Oh there's some dialogue in-between the carnal coupling, I guess. And Dakota Johnson tries hard - or, at least harder than Jamie Dornan, who mostly acts with his stubble. But what do these two people even see in each other? What ties them together? For a movie about bondage, the stars seem strangely disconnected."
Playlist critic Will Ashton:
"If 2015’s 'Fifty Shades of Grey' was brutally testing, 'Fifty Shades Darker' is torturous. A cinematic soap opera series as sexy and stimulating as laundry detergent, and featuring far less friction, this painfully soporific sensual sequel somehow becomes even less enticing and rousing than Sam Taylor-Johnson’s tediously compromised original. Actively dull and astoundingly flaccid, the monotonously dreary, everlastingly humdrum BDSM fan fiction franchise can never quite decide if it’d rather be smutty or classy. Instead, director James Foley tries to find an ill-conceived, thin, mildly dirty line between the two, evaporating anything alluring, engaging or exciting about this sexual fantasy follow-up in the process. It makes 'Grey' look like 'Secretary' in comparison. Never has unconventional sex seemed so f--king boring."
Independent critic Geoffrey Macnab:
"'Fifty Shades Darker' is an ordeal to watch not because of its gothic eroticism but because of its utter blandness. The film would surely have benefited from being gaudier, more kitsch and transgressive. Instead, this is telenovela-style storytelling with predictable villains and far too much simpering mawkishness.The cliffhanger ending is very crude too. It looks as if all these characters will soon be back for more. Cue the inevitable puns about flogging dead horses."
Newsday critic Rafer Guzman:
"The year’s first true cinematic travesty has arrived with 'Fifty Shades Darker,' based on the second novel in E.L. James’ trilogy of sadomasochistic romances. An abusive-relationship fantasy about a wide-eyed young innocent and the handsome billionaire who yearns to smack her, this sequel manages the neat trick of being more explicit yet less erotic and far goofier than 2015’s 'Fifty Shades of Grey.”'From its dominant top to its submissive bottom, it’s utterly ridiculous. It might have been a hoot if its sexual politics and baseline morality weren’t so objectionable."
Us Weekly critic Mara Reinstein:
"The pain is real. There are moments in 'Fifty Shades Darker' when you might care more about Anastasia Steele’s lipstick shade than her tortured romance with cold billionaire Christian Grey. Now here comes the pleasure: The sequel, once again starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, is more unintentionally hysterical than the original. In fact, some of the wooden line readings and melodramatic twists rank right up there with the gold standard of cinematic erotic camp, the one and only 'Showgirls.' Consider this film as a ticket to two hours of blessedly brainless escapism, and, guaranteed, it will not be the biggest time suck of 2017."
Philadelphia Daily News critic Gary Thompson:
"It is a fixture of the 'Fifty Shades' movies that all who meet Christian and Anastasia are magnetically (sometimes obsessively) attracted to them. The problem for viewers, especially those who have not read the E.L. James novels, is that many of us do not share the attraction. On screen, saddled with bad dialogue and soapy plotting, the characters remain stiff and … plastic. In fact, I kept thinking how awesome it would be if the trilogy would conclude with a Lego Shades Movie. Lego Christian pouring massage oils on Lego Anastasia, engaging in some light Lego masochism. No such luck. Parts two and three of Shades were filmed together. The conclusion is already in the can."