In Review

Fifty Shades Darker trailer: Can sequel keep the thrills alive?

'Helicopter high-jinks' and 'slick designer interiors' combine with heated glances and S&M perversion

A steamy new trailer has been released for the Fifty Shades Darker movie. It swaps blindfolds for masks and asks viewers to "slip into something darker", but can the S&M movie franchise keep up the momentum of its record-breaking success so far?

The follow-up to Fifty Shades of Grey, Darker adapts the second novel from EL James's best-selling trilogy and sees lovers Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) reunite after their breakup at the end of the first instalment. It has also swapped its female director (Sam Taylor-Johnson) and scriptwriter (Kelly Marcel) for men, with a new director James Foley and writer Niall Leonard.

The new trailer shows Ana preparing for a masquerade ball and donning a mask. The romance escalates as Ana tells Christian she will take him back as long as they have "no rules, no punishments and no more secrets".

But Ana might be in over her head, as the movie introduces new characters, including Christian's older dominant ex-lover (Kim Basinger), and another former lover and possible stalker (Australian actress Bella Heathcote). Ana also has to fend off the attentions of her boss (Eric Johnson).

Reaction to the trailer ranges from breathless excitement to ennui.

Don't panic, but the full trailer has just dropped and there's a masquerade ball and "darkness lurking around every corner!" declares Maggie Pehanick on Pop Sugar. "For now, watch it on repeat."

Many people remember the first film as being "a mildly kinky introductory course to light S&M perversion", but it's "a darn sight better than the reputation which precedes it", and would have made "a perfect stand-alone movie", says Little White Lies.

Alas, the market decides, says Little White Lies, so here we are with the inevitable sequel, which "looks like a school play version of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut mixed with some helicopter high-jinx and lots of slick designer interiors". In fact the trailer gives a lot away, so you might want to avoid it if you hate spoilers.

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The first big-screen adaptation of EL James's best-selling books was "sexhaustingly dull" and "meh'd by critics", says Brian Raftery in Wired. And even though co-stars Johnson and Dornan "looked as though they'd rather snort live yellow-jackets than work together again" it made lots of money, hence the sequel.

It features lots of heated glances, says Raftery. "In fact, there's so much looky-looing in this trailer, they could have named it Fifty Shades 2: I'll Take the Stares."

But while the movie franchise is on an unprecedented, boundary-breaking trajectory, says Raftery, it will need to "up the thrills a bit in order to appeal beyond the books' loyal fan base".

The film is due for release on Valentine's Day next year.

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