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.