Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Fifty Shades of Grey is Too Safe to Satisfy

Plus, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Better Call Saul are Certified Fresh

by | February 12, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a risqué relationship (Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson) and slick super-spies (Kingsman: The Secret Service, starring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson). What do the critics have to say?

Fifty Shades of Grey

24%

If you thought Twilight needed fewer vampires and more handcuffs, Fifty Shades of Grey was written for you. E.L. James’ Twilight fan fiction-turned-erotic novel has become an international sensation in its own right and spawned a big screen adaptation that hits theaters this week. Unfortunately, critics say the film is surprisingly tame, considering its source material. Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele, a timid undergrad tasked with interviewing a wealthy, good-looking entrepreneur named Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). The mutual attraction is clear, but Ana soon learns that Christian has some rather unusual bedroom habits and must decide whether or not she’ll follow his lead. The pundits say Fifty Shades of Grey works better on screen than it does on the page, but it lacks the requisite heat to register as a truly titillating treat. (Be sure to check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we look at 15 Boundary-Pushing Movies That Broke Sexual Taboos, and our gallery of 50 sexually explicit relationships on film.)

Kingsman: The Secret Service

75%

If Austin Powers were a tad darker and a whole lot bloodier, you might end up with something like Kingsman: The Secret Service, Matthew Vaughn’s high octane sendup of gentlemanly espionage that critics say is fun and subversive, if a bit over the top. Colin Firth plays veteran super spy Harry Hart, who recruits a twentysomething troublemaker named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) into the ranks of his secret organization. When a tech mogul (Samuel L. Jackson) is suspected of utilizing his power to wreak havoc on the world, Harry and Eggsy set out to track him down and stop him. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Kingsman: The Secret Service is a cheeky, unabashedly absurd caper that gleefully plays on genre clichés, though its stylized violence may be too much for some.

What’s Hot On TV:

Better Call Saul (Certified Fresh at 100 percent) is a quirky, dark character study that manages to stand on its own without being overshadowed by the series that spawned it.

Thanks to a liberal dose of propulsive, bloody action and enough compelling character moments to reward longtime fans, critics say The Walking Dead‘s (Certified Fresh at 97 percent) fifth season continues to deliver top-notch entertainment.

Though the characters verge on stereotypes, they are aptly executed by The Slap‘s (68 percent) bright cast, allowing the show’s topical themes to shine through in a provocative, meaningful way.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, a drama about an Israeli woman who is put on trial for breaking religious law when she applies for divorce from her abusive husband, is at 100 percent.

  • What We Do in the Shadows, starring Jemaine Clement in a mockumentary profile of a quartet of vampire roommates living in New Zealand, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.

  • Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, an action-horror film about a zombie outbreak in the Australian outback, is at 67 percent.

  • The Rewrite, starring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei in a romantic comedy about a struggling screenwriter who takes up teaching at a local university, is at 61 percent.

  • The Last 5 Years, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan in a musical comedy chronicling the failed relationship between a novelist and a struggling actress, is at 61 percent.

  • Spike Lee‘s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, a horror drama revolving around three people who are connected by a cursed ancient artifact that inspires bloodthirst in humans, is at 45 percent.

  • Old Fashioned, a romantic drama about an antique shop owner who falls for the free-spirited woman who rents the apartment above his shop, is at 25 percent.

  • White Rabbit, starring Nick Krause and Sam Trammel in a thriller about a troubled young man who slowly succumbs to his mental illness, is at 14 percent.