Obviously, for those who haven’t seen Fifty Shades Freed yet…
A few weeks ago, I won a drawing to attend an early pre-screening of Fifty Shades Freed. It was built up to be this big media event with press, and studio executives… turns out it was really just like going to see any other movie. But that’s fine because it was free and I got to see it a day earlier. Take that, countdown app!
So, Wednesday night, my cousin and I got all dressed up, went and had dinner at the Space Needle (for the most Seattle-y experience one could have, obviously), and headed off to the movies. But standing there, in the long line of other contest winners, the pure, unadulterated excitement that consumed me prior to seeing both Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker was not there. I was happy to be there, I was looking forward to seeing the movie, but there was absolutely no chance I was going to pee my pants.
It was an odd moment.
I think it was because of Fifty Shades Darker. It’s my favorite book of the trilogy and after the interminably long wait between 2015 and 2017, I was out of control with anticipation. I said in my last review that I obsessively stalked filming updates with near religious conviction, and it wasn’t an exaggeration. I’m pretty sure I’m the reason the Fifty Shades Darker trailer broke the Star Wars view record. I think my phone might STILL be playing it on repeat…
But when I left the theater after Fifty Shades Darker, I was feeling let down. Upon retrospect, I did it to myself. I overloaded before I even got to see it until it was built up to this great big thing that nothing could ever actually have measured up to, and it ruined an experience for me that, two years prior, was amazing.
Note: In order to test this theory, I am also willing to have sex with Jamie Dornan. Just to see if you really can over hype something into mediocrity.
I made a promise to myself with Freed. I wasn’t going to ruin it this time. I wasn’t going to DVR all the talk shows or live stream the premier. I wasn’t going to watch the trailer 50,000 times or even watch any of the promo clips that were released in the weeks leading up to it. I was going to go into this movie with absolutely no expectations.
And here’s how that turned out:
You guys. It’s so good. Like, SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good. I left the theater last night unable to stop talking about it (Sorry, husband). I’m actually mad that I’m not watching it right now. I want to go into my bedroom, turn on my TV, pull up my Amazon library, and scream at both Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker for NOT being Fifty Shades Freed.
Let’s discuss, shall we?
I know you’re all going to take this with a grain of salt because of the source material, but he was so good. I feel they changed Christian’s character a bit from the books, but I love every second of it. He was so funny and warm in this movie. He made me fall in love with Christian in a whole new way. Spoiler: There’s a scene at the end where he’s trying to cook Anastasia dinner and he burns everything, including my loins, and while Ana gives him a bit of a hard time for it, he just pushes the pan aside and says, “Fuck it, let’s get take out.” I. Die.
I love Dakota Johnson, and this is in no way a dig at her (since I put Jamie and not Christian), but I LOVE Anastasia’s character in this movie. Anastasia Steele might have been meek and shy, but Anastasia Grey is a badass. She will knife you if you stare too long at her husband, she will run your ass off the motherfucking road if you want to chase her on the highway, and she will get FINALLY get on her knees and do the deed for her very giving man. She’s still hilarious and warm and cute, but I loved the strength of her character so much in this movie. 10/10, Ana. Get it, gurl.
The Honeymoon Montage:
This was just cuteness overload. Most of what came before the beach scenes was just quick flashes of them running through Paris, but it was seriously SO sweet. Spoiler: There’s a quick scene of them running through the pouring rain into this little cafe and Christian is shielding them both with his jacket. When they sit at the table, Ana has to dump water out of her shoes, but they both just laugh. They’re both clearly so happy and in love. Ugh, I loved it so much. Even the sex during the honeymoon was romantic and sweet, not gratuitous. It might be one of my favorite parts of the movie.
Apparently there was some outcry about Ben and Jerry’s and Ana not being included in Fifty Shades Darker because we get it in the Aspen scene, and it’s just as hot as it was in the books. We still didn’t get the D, but Jamie’s pants were not present for every sex scene the way there were in Darker. It was explicit and prevalent. Freed is only like an hour and a half long and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 30 full minutes of that was sex.
I think that the music has been good in every movie, it’s something the Fifty Shades franchise has really excelled at. In fact, for all of my friends who hate Fifty Shades (don’t be too hard on them, everyone is wrong about something or another) I always refer to the first movie as Oscar Nominated Fifty Shades of Grey, because Earned It got a nomination for best original song. Anyway, Freed killed it. The music was perfectly chosen and really just made the whole thing cohesive. Unlike I Don’t Wanna Live in Darker, I was never wishing they would turn the music down so we could hear the dialogue better.
They actually filmed a lot of the aerial/car chase scenes IN Seattle, so that felt really nice to me. No fake 12 flags to report this time, folks.
I think this is actually where the first two movies have their biggest weakness. Well, this and the scripts. The first two dragged in some places and were too rushed in others. But this movie felt really well paced the whole way through. Honestly, because of how well this was edited and put together, I think it’s my favorite of all three movies.
I could go on, I want to. Jack Hyde, more scenes of the entire ensemble, Luke Saywer’s gorgeous blue eyes… But I think it’s time we get to:
But for literally the opposite reason this was my least favorite part of the book. In the book, this part just drags on and on without any purpose or reason. In the movie, it’s really not long at all. BUT the club scene where the guy feels up Ana on the dance floor and Christian punches him out, you know, the one we saw in the trailer, that’s not in the movie at all. Elliot proposes, then everyone dances a little bit, Ana kisses Christian and suddenly it goes into this weird spliced scene between Ana and Christian in the red room and Ana in her office the next Monday. It’s a very jarring transition and honestly made the whole club thing pointless. I’m hoping we’re going to get more of this scene in the extended cut, because, as is, it’s baffling.
The scene where Ana tells Christian she’s pregnant fell flat for me for the same reason the Christian submissive scene fell flat in Darker. It was SO rushed. There was no shock, realization, anger… it was just:
Ana: I’m pregnant
Christian: Instantly furious.
But also, not really furious. Jamie toned Christian down a lot, so he gets mad and storms off, but not in a Christian Grey epic meltdown kind of way. The table didn’t even get flipped. There wasn’t enough build up to this scene and so his following actions just didn’t seem realistic for me. That might not be an issue for anyone else, but if I was going to point to one pacing issue, that would be it.
And that’s it! THAT’S ALL OF THE BAD.
It really was such a good movie. The best of the three in my opinion and I can’t wait to see it again. I’m a little devastated that this franchise is coming to a close. I’m going to miss the anticipation for these movies so, so much. I really hope Jamie and Dakota both go on to have amazing, lucrative careers, and make plenty more films for me to indulge in for years to come.
Thanks for the ride, EL James. It truly has been remarkable.