Six years ago, an elusive phenomenon promised to revolutionize the consumption of softcore porn in public. The 50 Shades of Grey book series went viral and took the world by storm. Mothers and teenagers alike poured over the naughty novels and then, finally, the craze hit the big screen on Valentine's Day 2015.
But fast forward two years, we're now met with the first teaser of the final chapter in 50 Shades Freed, set to hit cinemas on Valentine's Day 2018. And our suspicions have been confirmed: it was always a fluke, there are only broken erotic promises and it is high time for this saga to end.
Neither entertaining nor actually provocative
Many have condemned the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon because of its racy nature. Calling it garbage, definitely not appropriate for teenagers and simply pornography, its success has been considered somewhat a mystery.
But the 50 Shades Freed trailer proved that this isn't where the problem lies, the problem has always been that E.L. James' books have been softened into oblivion on screen and the films actually lacking what made the books so appealing to its fans: the excitement and danger of the whole fictionalized world of sex itself.
The initial teaser hints at a whole lot of new situations for Mr. and Mrs. Grey now. A set of unoriginal, unemotional vows provide the only dialogue of the trailer, as Christian benignly explains his trust and respect for his new wife.
The purity of a wedding dress and the twinkle of a silver ring do nothing to add any emotional involvement for viewers, and certainly feel far away from the initial danger promised in the books.
The pacing is slow, Anastasia's emotionless nature is somehow reminiscent of Bella Swan's in Twilight. For a movie that is meant to provide the closing chapter to the exciting and controversial saga, it all just feels rather tame.
In this third installment, Christian is controlling and possessive. The trailer hints at this with brief glimpses of Taken-esque attempted kidnappings. There are knives and gunshots galore, and yet the tension still feels as fake as Ana's half-hearted orgasms.
The problem is that by this point, the film saga hasn't won over any new fans and has done little to impress its existing ones. Grey's pseudo-James Bond walk out of the waters feels like something your dad would try on holiday, a far cry from the attractive man fans dreamt about years ago. Ana does no more than passively lower her sunglasses.
As the trailer ramps up, the briefest sexual allusions are shown, still very much two-dimensional and meek. An unconvincing climaxing close-up is followed by an awkwardly wide shot of Christian creeping his hand up Ana's dress. It's not exciting, it's not provocative. It's just a bit boring.
When they say "Fifty Shades Freed" they are talking about Dakota not having to do anymore 50 Shades movies. pic.twitter.com/JVvIqqhp88— MaddingCrowd (@MaddingMadWorld) September 10, 2017
Whatever audience they're trying to reach just feels too far away. While the books were bold and not exactly thought-provoking or philosophical, they made their point and invited forbidden curosity.
But each Valentine's Day, the films have just grown more tame and now see their climax in a film that offers marriage, sex, shiny cars and apparent death threats, and yet shows no promise of the excitement that these classic Hollywood tropes usually would.
Many harsh film buffs will be rubbing their hands and warming up their 'I told you so's ahead of the final chapter, never convinced by any part of this somewhat confusing deal.
But sadly, even the diehard fans may have to admit it: With 50 Shades Freed we see a film about sex that isn't actually sexy or exciting in the slightest. It's about time that Valentine's Day was released from its engagement to 50 Shades, to let us satisfy ourselves IRL again once and for all.
You can watch the debacle for yourself here: