Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades Darker

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades Darker

Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are back for more BDSM drama in Fifty Shades Darker!

Fifty Shades Darker has finally arrived. The stylized IKEA sets are back in full form, the choreographed sex scene music videos are longer, and Christian and Anastasia get deep, emotionally that is. Based on the popular series by author E.L. James, Fifty Shades Darker is the second installment of the trilogy.

Fifty Shades Darker picks up right where 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey left off. Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) has left Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) to live life on her own terms. In this case, that means living in a humongous one-bedroom apartment furnished by Urban Outfitters, stacked with books that have never been opened, and walking around the wet city of Seattle sipping coffee while staring at trees pondering Jane Austen. It’s been a little while without Christian in her life, and she has a new job as an assistant to a prominent publishing company.

Anastasia goes to her best friend’s photography gallery opening, only to find pictures of her plastered all over the walls, like the kind of photographs you would see in sample picture frame stores at the Dollar Store. To her friend’s surprise, a mysterious person buys every single portrait of her. Who could it be? Anastasia turns around to find her old flame Christian standing in front of her sporting the same serious look he always has Looking devilishly handsome with a little bit of scruff. He begs her to talk, so she agrees to go grab a bite.

talking-1The last time Anastasia saw Christian, he took his BDSM fetishes too far by spanking her way too hard, causing her to run into his elevator and press “Lobby” as fast as she could. Christian tells her he can’t lose her, and is willing to do anything to keep her, even if it means having regular, vanilla, missionary style sex instead of tying her up in his leather bound “red room”. And just like that, over a glass of wine, Anastasia is sucked into the world of Christian Grey again (plus she really digs his scruff).

Kim Basinger as Elena Lincoln in Fifty Shades Darker

Kim Basinger as Elena Lincoln in Fifty Shades Darker

All seems great for Anastasia and Christian, after a music video of the couple making love to Nick Jonas and Nicki Minaj, and comfortably snuggling in the morning. But the happy vanilla couple are faced with troubling issues including: Christian’s past lover, who looks like a runaway teen from a Lifetime movie thriller replete with wrist bandages, stalks Anastasia. While at work, Anastasia’s boss sexually harasses her, and then she is repeatedly bullied by Christian’s Mrs. Robinson style “sexual teacher” Elena (Kim Basinger).

Fifty Shades Darker will undoubtedly get a lot of hate. Does it deserve it? No! Fifty Shades is a fun, sexually charged romantic drama that follows two archetypes who fall in love under circumstances that can only happen in romance novels. Christian is the brooding man with dark secrets whose only form of intimacy in the first film was to tie a woman up and call her his “slave”, but in this one, he’s totally fine cuddling, kissing, and making coffee for his sweetheart in the morning. Anastasia is the good girl next door, who doesn’t wear a lot of make-up, actually loves to work, reads a lot, and she has a lot of admirers (her photo obsessed friend, her crazy stalker boss, and of course, the one and only Christian).

coverThe pair deliver one-liners that are more than worthy of laughs than tears, but Johnson and Dornan find a way to make their chemistry work. The expertly choreographed sex scenes help in their favor, focusing on Christian’s muscular back, or Anastasia’s flawless hair in her eyes. It’s also a beautifully shot film, whether it’s the rainy sunsets of the Space Needle, or a colorful masquerade ball, or Kim Basinger’s highlights, the film is stunning.

Fifty Shades Darker delivers exactly what it promises. Lots of drama, lots of eye candy, lots of steamy sex, and a killer soundtrack. Christian is hot, Anastasia is beautiful, and their relationship is anything but dull. Yes, there are laugh out loud moments that probably weren’t intended to be, and there are some jaw dropping scenes with Kim Basinger and Marcia Gay Harden that make one forget they do indeed have Oscars, but hey, it’s all in good fun.

Grab a date, have a glass of wine before (or two, three…) and sit back and enjoy the steamy guilty pleasures of Fifty Shades Darker. And this time, we don’t have to wait another two years for the next chapter. Fifty Shades Freed is slated for a 2018 release, with more hot sex, intense drama, and hit songs to slay Valentine’s Day weekend.