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Review: 'Fifty Shades Freed' frees the viewer from further sequels

Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 4:34 PM Central

by John Couture

About the only good news to take away from Fifty Shades Freed is that the climactic chapter to the steamy sexual awakening series means that the torture is over for leads Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Better yet, the viewer is spared from any more flimsy plot retreads and painfully awkward dialog exchanges.

At least we hope. Never say never in Hollywood.

Full disclosure, as a 40-something man, I am not anywhere near the target demographic of the Fifty Shades franchise and that's OK. The movies, like the books before them, became a cultural phenomenon for the fairer sex and an outlet for which that we truly haven't seen on this level. Much like the Twilight series upon which the original fan fiction that evolved into Fifty Shades of Grey is based, you either get it or you don't.

I actually gave the Twilight series a chance as an opportunity to bond with some co-workers, but in the end, the films just didn't hold my attention. I gave the first two Fifty Shades of Grey even less notice and only checked out various bits and pieces to placate my curious nature.

Needless to say, I didn't miss much when it comes to the plot. In this final chapter, Christian and Anastasia are married and the happily ever after gets sidetracked when their collective pasts rear their ugly heads. For Ana, it comes in the former boss with the worst kidnap scheme ever to grace the silver screen, while Christian is faced with the same insecurities about losing control that has plagued him throughout the series.

Even if you're not a diehard fan of the series, the plot is simple enough that a five-year-old could understand it. And no, you shouldn't show any of these films to children. Given this simplistic nature, the stars must to applauded given the temptation to phone it in, especially in the third film, but both Jamie and Dakota are professionals and the film is all the better for their performances.

Unfortunately, three films of salacious conduct on the screen do not do much to correct the major flaw of the series which is the complete lack of chemistry between the leads. Sure, the gratuitous sex scenes feature plenty of skin and simulated sex acts that often stray from the realm of traditional, but you never feel like the actors truly commit to their craft.

I mean I have seen porn actors who have faked better passion on-screen than what you find in this series. That's really too bad because I do feel that there is a lesson in these films for the more prudish of you out there. For some reason, this country is hung up on the taboo nature of nudity and sexuality to the point that this type of subversive behavior is considered too lewd for mainstream film. With the bigger problems facing our society can we all just agree to not get so bent out of shape with a little skin?

Sorry, rant over.

I was fortunate to review the 4K UHD version of the film which does offer a more robust color palette and slightly better visuals from the upconverted 2K master. I was a bit disappointed that in lieu of a better Dolby Atmos soundtrack, the 4K UHD simply reused the DTS:X audio track on the Blu-ray. While DTS:X is fine, there are certain scenes that would benefit from a more robust audio track.

The included bonus features will be a treasure chest for the diehard fans of the series, but they felt a bit lacking overall to a non-fan. They were quick and superficial and didn't really add much to the overall experience. The lone exception was the "Final Climax" 40-minute feature which seemed to at least add a bit of depth and exposition to the film series. Fans of the series will really dig this added feature.

At the end of the day, if you own the first two films, you will buy Fifty Shades Freed to complete your collection. If you have seen the parts of the first two films that interest you, then there isn't much to see here that you haven't seen before.

Fifty Shades Freed is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD.