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Sam Taylor-Johnson
Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Ehle
Writing Credits:
Kelly Marcel

Literature student Anastasia Steele's life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$94,395,000 on 3,646 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R/Unrated

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
French DTS 5.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
English DVS (Theatrical Cut Only)
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 126 min. (Theatrical Version)
129 min. (Unrated Cut)
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/8/2015

• Both Theatrical and Unrated Cuts
• “The World of Fifty Shades of Grey” Featurette
• “Behind the Shades” Featurette
• “EL James and Fifty Shades” Featurette
• “Fifty Shades: The Pleasure of Pain” Featurette
• “Christian’s Apartment” 360-Degree Set Tour
• Music Videos
• “Behind the Scenes of ‘Earned It’” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Fifty Shades of Grey [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 5, 2015)

In a year that features new entries in the Star Wars and Avengers franchises, I can’t call Fifty Shades of Grey the most-hyped film of 2015. Nonetheless, it’s up there, as the movie came with all sorts of advance attention – and enough popular presence for Universal to greenlight two sequels before multiplex seats got cold.

Based on the hit novel by EL James, Shades introduces us to college student Anastasia “Ana” Steele (Dakota Johnson). As a favor to her ailing friend Kate (Eloise Mumford), Ana interviews Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), a successful entrepreneur.

This starts a relationship that goes down unexpected paths. As she gets involved with Christian, Ana discovers that he boasts some kinky sexual preferences. We follow Ana’s journey and how her time with Christian affects her – and changes him as well.

To say that I don’t fit the target demographic for Shades would be an understatement. My gender ensures that more than anything else, as the audience for Shades skews radically female.

What do these women get from Shades? That I can’t explain, as the movie seems so dull and tedious that it becomes difficult to figure out what anyone likes about it.

Granted, the book performed better than the movie, and since I never read it, I can’t compare the two to figure out what made the material so popular in text form. I’d guess that it becomes “safe porn” for women who want to think they’re more daring and outrageous than they are, but that remains supposition.

I do know that virtually nothing about Shades the movie proves to be erotic, intriguing or stimulating. Oh, we find very attractive leads, as both Johnson and Dornan provide fine eye candy. Beyond that, though, they lack any form of chemistry and their sex scenes feel perfunctory and unstimulating.

When they appear, that is. For a movie with a reputation as borderline porn, Shades doesn’t spend much time in erotic situations. Instead, it talks about these circumstances – and talks, and talks, and talks some more.

Shades seems less like a sexy romance and more like a tale of business negotiations. It feels like 90 percent of the story revolves around the “contract” that Christian requires his partners to sign and whether or not Ana will do so.

This leads to endless chatter about the contract and negotiation of terms. Ana argues about it. Christian sticks to his guns. Ana provides counteroffers. Christian comes back with his own changes – and so on. Whose idea of hot, steamy fun is this?

Without risqué material to enliven the movie, Shades plods. It comes with dull, one-dimensional characters who show no sparks. From the start, it never seems clear why Christian takes such an intense interest in Ana. Sure, she’s cute, but she shows no personality or spirit – why does he attach to her so quickly?

And why should we care about what happens to either of them? The movie dollops out tidbits of character exposition from time to time but it never prompts the viewer to take an active interest in the personalities. They’re simply attractive props to get us to the promised tawdry sex – that is, the tawdry sex that never arrives.

Shades started as Twilight fan fiction, and its amateur roots show. The movie comes with laughable, clumsy dialogue and a poor sense of pacing and narrative.

Granted, I probably shouldn’t blame author EL James for the script’s failings, but on the other hand, this seems like “silk purse/sow’s ear” territory where screenwriter Kelly Marcel had to make do with what James gave her.

In the end, Shades couldn’t be more trite and stale if it tried. A predictable tale with only its “kinky” reputation to bolster it, the movie bores.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Fifty Shades of Grey appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. A little softness crept into the image at times, but not frequently. Instead, the movie almost always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette that favored teal. Some amber/orange came into the image as well, but blue/green dominated. The hues consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, and shadows showed good smoothness. Overall, the picture appeared solid.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it worked pretty well. The audio tended to be somewhat restrained most of the time, but some sequences – such as those at bars or on the street – opened up the spectrum in a satisfying manner. Some rain added atmosphere, and other effects added a good sense of ambience.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic. Effects lacked much to stand out, but they appeared accurate, and they showed mild punch when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B-“.

The Blu-ray includes both the film’s theatrical version (2:05:19) and an unrated cut (2:08:29). Because the Blu-ray represented my initial screening of the film, I can’t detail the changes in full.

However, I did rewatch the last part of the theatrical version to differentiate the “alternate ending” the unrated cut promises. In truth, this is more of an “extended ending”, as the unrated version simply keeps going past the theatrical edition’s last shot.

It’s an odd sequence, as it doesn’t change anything, really – it just shows that Christian and Ana continue to think about each other. It adds nothing to the experience and feels pretty pointless.

From there we find some featurettes, and these start with The World of Fifty Shades of Grey. It comes with three parts: “Christian Grey”, “Ana” and “Friends and Family”. Each of those split into additional subsections. All together, these total 44 minutes, 42 seconds of footage.

Along the way, we hear from director Sam Taylor-Johnson, set decorator Sandy Wasco, production designer David Wasco, costume designer Mark Bridges, executive producer Marcus Viscidi, producer Dana Brunetti, property master Dan Sissons, and actors Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay Harden, Dakota Johnson, Victor Rasuk, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Max Martini, and Rita Ora. Across the various areas, we learn about story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes, cars and production design, and related topics.

When the clips look at cast and characters, they seem fairly bland. A few decent details emerge but not enough to sustain interest. However, the pieces about sets/production design/costumes seem pretty satisfying, so they redeem this collection.

By the way, “World” can be a chore to navigate because it lacks a “Play All” option. This means we head back to the menu much more often than should be the case.

With the 19-minute, 28-second Behind the Shades, we hear from Brunetti, Viscidi, Taylor-Johnson, Ora, Johnson, Dornan, Mumford, David Wasco, Sandy Wasco, Bridges, Rasuk, and author/producer EL James. We learn about the source work and its adaptation for the screen, how Taylor-Johnson came to the project and her approach, sets and locations, costumes, photography, and aspects of the shoot.

“Behind” extends the topics covered in “World” in a fairly satisfying manner. Like that compilation, “Behind” sags at times, but it still comes with enough good information to become a useful featurette.

Next comes EL James and Fifty Shades. It lasts five minutes, 45 seconds and features info from the author as she discusses how she decided to write Shades and various elements connected to it. Despite this piece’s brevity, it offers a nice little overview of James’ work.

Fifty Shades: The Pleasure of Pain goes for eight minutes, 42 seconds and offers details from Taylor-Johnson, Ora, Harden, Sissons, Dornan, Johnson and BDSM technical consultant Liam Helmer. We learn of the movie’s BDSM components and how it depicts them. This proves to be a reasonably interesting take on the subject matter.

Christian’s Apartment brings us a “360-degree set tour”. This lets us see close-ups of a variety of elements featured in the aforementioned location. Big fans might enjoy it but it does little for me.

Under Music Videos, we find two clips: “I Know You” by Skylar Grey and “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” by the Weekend. “I Know You” is an okay ballad but the video annoys; it’s a simple lip-synch performance rendered unwatchable due to a camera that never stops circling its subjects. “Earned It” offers a forgettable R&B ballad, but since it comes with a mix of attractive largely-unclad women, it’s a more interesting video.

We also get a behind the scenes featurette for “Earned It”. This piece runs four minutes, 49 seconds and features

The disc opens with ads for Satisfaction, The Gunman, The Boy Next Door, The Loft, Seventh Son, Unbroken, Heroes Reborn and Map to the Stars. No trailer for Shades appears here, but we do get a 29-second tease for the film’s sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Shades. It includes the “Friends and Family” section of “World” as well as “Behind the Shades”.

Going into Fifty Shades of Grey, viewers expected a mildly kinky sex-based romance. Instead, they found a slow, dull snoozer with nothing erotic or interesting on display. The Blu-ray provides pretty good picture and audio as well as an erratic but reasonably informative set of supplements. Shades can’t live up to its hype.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.2 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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