Fifty Shades of Grey: Smouldering scenes fail to fire in this over-hyped bonkbuster
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Drama. Starring Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden, Rita Ora, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Cert 18)
So, after all the hype and the massive advertising campaign, not to mention all the free ancillary publicity this release generated, the movie version of EL James' multi-million-selling bonkbuster finally arrives in time for St Valentine's Day and, in truth, it's not nearly as bad as I was expecting.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that Sam-Taylor Johnson's adaptation of the dominance and submission saga is particularly good either, merely that a complete howl-with-laughter disaster along the lines of Showgirls has somehow been avoided.
This is mainly down to the fact that screenwriter Kelly Marcel has ditched most of James' truly appalling writing while Taylor-Johnson does a decent if deadly dull job in keeping things moving, albeit at the kind of pace which a snail would find sluggish.
Leaving aside for the moment the sheer moral dubiousness of the plot - naive young virgin Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) becomes the sex slave of hunky billionaire control freak Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan in a potentially career-ending role) in return for a lifestyle of utter fabulosity - there are considerable problems with Fifty Shades of Grey, the main one being that it simply isn't remotely erotic in any way.
The on-screen chemistry between Johnson and Dornan is non-existent, the pair not generating a joule of the heat displayed by, say, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in 9 1/2 Weeks.
Once we do get to the sex scenes - the first one about 40 minutes in if you're interested - Taylor-Johnson feels, ahem, constrained and actually rather perfunctory.
Still, I suppose making a just-about-tolerable if ridiculously long film from dreadful source material is something of an achievement in itself.
And while more than 70,000 tickets have been sold for its opening weekend in this country, I wouldn't expect too many repeat viewings. People may be susceptible to hype, but they're not stupid.
Read Paul Whitington's take: Bored to be wild: Fifty Shades of Grey is just brain-dead