Fifty Shades of Grey

Are you curious? Really? OK then. Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey is a lousy movie, every bit the stinker that you probably expect: dull dialogue, vapid characters, no chemistry either from or between the actors. Here’s what you really want to know: Is the movie hot? Is it at least a little bit funny? And (since you are reading Sound & Vision) how does the Blu-ray Disc look and sound? Here’s the skinny, in that order. The actors who play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele (the most improbably famous S&M couple on the planet) are very attractive; Dakota Johnson, as Ana, is hot; but their sex is pretty tame soft porn, even by Cinemax standards. (Showtime’s Masters of Sex is way sexier.) As for humor, the mysterious billionaire and the hayseed coed smirk now and then, more than the book’s author E.L. James reportedly liked (she demanded a new director for the sequel, complaining that Sam Taylor-Johnson didn’t take her bodice-whipping, one-shade-of-purple prose seriously enough); even so, the playroom is a wit-free zone. haven’t read the bestselling novel, so I’ll have to take the word of my 89-year-old mother, who sampled a chapter, which Amazon had packaged as a bonus with her Kindle, and reported, “It’s very badly written.” The plot is silliness incarnate: classic supermarket romance, with a Kraff-Ebing twist. Who are these characters? What does Mr. Grey do, how did he make his billions by age 27, where does he get the time to go shopping for rope at a hardware store, and what does he see in the fetching but shallow virgin, Miss Steele? To raise these questions is to underscore the preposterousness of asking, like appraising the flavor and nutritional value of a phallic corn dog at a Tupperware party.

But I’ve neglected your third question, Dear Reader, the one about the transfer’s sound and vision. Now we’re talking! This is a gorgeous 1080p transfer with a pulsating soundtrack, something like a Tom Ford fashion shoot (with the fashion best discarded) scored by a rock-schlock D.J. of an audiophile bent. If anything, it’s too pretty, as brightly lit as any bookstore I’ve seen, with scarcely a shadow darkening even the sex-toy chamber, except to obscure Ana’s forbidden triangle in the few seconds of full frontal (and that’s in the unrated version).

Finally, the extra features are a bore, starting with a long list of brief actor and character profiles, peaking with an analysis of the BDSM world, and ending with an overly in-depth tour of Christian’s apartment.

Studio: Universal, 2014
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 126/129 mins.
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated
Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle

David Vaughn's picture
Fred, couldn't agree more. Horrific movie that stole 2 hours of my life. By the way, your mother was right...the books were poorly written as well. Yes...I did read them to see what all the hype was about. That was a waste of time too.