Blu-ray Review: Fifty Shades Freed

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The Fifty Shades trilogy reaches its climactic conclusion in Fifty Shades Freed, now on Blu-ray (also 4K UltraHD). Sort of the guilty pleasure to end all guilty pleasures, these films aren't "good" in any traditional sense. But they're pretty enjoyable when taken at face value. They're decidedly B-movies and proud of it. This final chapter, Freed, is unfortunately the weakest of the three but that shouldn't detract fans of the series (both the E.L. James source novels and the filmed adaptations).

Turns out that Ana (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) just aren't quite as scintillating as a married couple as they were prior to tying the knot. Some fun is had early on as Ana adjusts to being, officially, Mrs. Christian Grey—a title she'd rather not fully embrace. Christian is miffed when his bride decides to retain her maiden name, Steele, for professional purposes. It also becomes clear that Mrs. Grey will not tolerate flirtation between hired hands, such as home designer Gia (Arielle Kebbel), and her husband. Ana is feeling newly empowered, which ultimately makes Christian uncomfortable.

But while the evolving home life of the newly domesticated Christian, who wasn't counting on Ana's desire for a more or less traditional lifestyle, is a worthwhile focus for Freed, unconvincing thriller elements keep getting in the way. Christian's rival Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) is obsessed with Ana and stages some rather surprisingly successfully attempts to disrupt her life (considering the new 24-hour security detail Ana now lives with). As a personal rift develops between the newlyweds, a kidnapping plot becomes the real engine driving the formulaic plot. As for steaminess between the Grey's, well, let's just say this is essentially the least kinky film of the three.

Universal Studios' Blu-ray edition offers both the theatrical cut and an "unrated" edition that runs about five minutes longer and ups the ante a bit in terms of flesh on display. There's also a single separate deleted scene included as a bonus ("Hickey and Apology"). The meat of the extra features is found in the series of short featurettes "The Final Climax" (which totals just over a half hour). Dornan and Johnson talk about their characters in "Christian & Ana by Jamie & Dakota" (six minutes). "A Conversation with E.L James. and Eric Johnson" (eight minutes) is a strange pairing—the author of the novels and the supporting cast member who plays the film's villain? And then there are a few music videos thrown in for good measure.

Fifty Shades Freed places an emphasis on car chases and shootings that does the story of Christian and Ana no real favors. Luckily Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan remain as photogenic as in previous installments. While not a film that inspires deep thought, Freed passes as relatively painlessly as the first two.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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