THE upcoming Valentine’s Day is set to be dominated by the release of erotic film Fifty Shades Darker as the box office looks set to pull in a massive amount of couples.
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Fifty Shades Darker is the second film adaption of the second book of the same name in the book series Fifty Shades of Grey. It comes two years after its predecessor Fifty Shades of Grey debuted in 2015, also around Valentine’s Day.
The Fifty Shades of Grey film series is an adaption of the novels of the same name about the romantic relationship between its two lead characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. They are three books in the series, all of which became New York Times international best sellers for its British author Erika Mitchell.
Ster Kinekor Zimbabwe will screen Fifty Shades Darker locally on Friday, which will be the only day the film will be shown to local audiences.
In this second film adaption, Steele, played by Dakota Johnson, tries to move on from her relationship with Grey (Jamie Dornan) as the first film ends in them breaking up. However, a wounded Grey convinces her to resume their romance but under Ana’s conditions. As the couple begins their normal relationship, Grey’s past threatens to tear the couple apart.
Basically, Fifty Shades Darker’s theme plays with the classic romantic tale of serious obstacles and spanners thrown into reconciliation. In the first film, the couple broke up due to Grey’s BDSM practices.
BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices for role playing involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other related interpersonal dynamics.
It was these BDSM practices that later became the hallmark of the Fifty Shades of Grey book series that captured married women, girls and even some guys across the globe.
Though Fifty Shades Darker sees Grey willing to change in accordance to Steele’s demands Steele was not the first one to receive Grey’s sexual deviances and as such, leads to his past relationships coming back to haunt him.
What the film does well is to incorporate thriller and suspense into the production, which helps drive the plot forward. But just as the first one, the film at times seems overstuffed and not really fleshing out plot points to their maximum potential.
Thankfully for the film’s producers Universal Pictures and Focus Films, they will no doubt be pleased this second adaption in the book series ups the sexual ante by exploring just what made Grey such a sexual deviant.
As such, eroticism heavily features in the film even as an undertone in non-sexual scenes.
This worked well for Fifty Shades of Grey where despite being slammed by critics with a rating of 25%, it managed to pull a box office miracle of $166,67 million in the United States for a global haul of $571 million.
Currently, Box Office Mojo estimates that Fifty Shades Darker will also be critic proof despite an even lower critic rating of 8%. Going into the weekend, the projections were for a $43,5 million opening weekend though this is lower than the first film.
But, the silver lining could be the film being the top choice for couples as releasing it before Valentine’s Day would almost certainly help lovers turnout in the film’s second weekend outing.
The other new releases include the highly-anticipated family film Lego Batman from Warner Brothers.
The film will undoubtedly finish at the top of the box office chart as it has a whopping 91% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.
Lego Batman is the second in the Lego film franchise following the highly successful 2014 film The Lego Movie that went on to earn $469,16 million worldwide.
Why this film was also a hit was that it was not a typical 3D animation as it made off the popular children’s Lego-brand toys that consists mostly of interlocking plastic bricks. As such, the film has offered movie goers something new and completely different to distinguish itself from the rest of the 3D animation pack.
Also in Lego Batman’s favour is the film being based on popular DC superhero Batman who has come back into the spotlight after Ben Affleck’s reincarnation of the role in last year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In Lego Batman, there are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman, voiced by comedian Will Arnett, wants to save the city from the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe learn to lighten up.
It will be up to his superhero sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) and loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) to show him a thing or two on how to lighten up.
Though Fifty Shades Darker is the most popular film between the two, Lego Batman’s good reputation and its being centred on Batman will no doubt act as counter programming to the former.
Lego Batman is loaded with laughs and manages to incorporate adult humour into a film traditionally targeted at younger audiences without affecting its main target audience.
The quips and jokes keep the ribs cracking from the start of the film to its end.
Also, Batman is known as a no-nonsense superhero and the chance to see him being used in a lighter tone will also draw the hero’s fans to watch the film.
Rounding off the slew of new films is Summit Entertainment’s (an American film production and distribution company) release John Wick: Chapter Two.
According to Box Office Mojo, the film is looking at a third placed finish with an opening north of $20 million.
The box office tracker says the first film was a bit of an out-of-nowhere surprise when it opened with $14,4 million in October 2014 and pulled in $43 million domestically and $86 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.
John Wick also had the appeal of Matrix star Keanu Reeves who plays Wick, a retired top assassin, in what has become one of his most favoured action performances in recent years. Reeves channels his dramatic chops into this action role, which is one major highlight of the film.
The realistic action set pieces also helps make the film more relatable by showcasing the stakes involved in John Wick: Chapter Two.
John Wick: Chapter Two has a critic rating of 89% from Rotten Tomatoes, cementing the film’s story as a must see.
The movie picks up with legendary hitman Wick (Reeves) being forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, Wick travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.
The film will definitely appeal to action lovers.