'Fifty Shades' advance reviews defy stinker fears

Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:31pm EST
 
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By Michael Roddy

BERLIN (Reuters) - Despite the studio's best efforts to stop reviews of the film adaptation of E.L. James's bestseller "Fifty Shades of Grey" being published before Wednesday's premiere, a few have surfaced and defy predictions the critics would find it a stinker.

The general take is that the movie, to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, is not as flawed as the books, widely criticized for clumsy writing and awkward plotting.

With advance sales of millions of tickets, the movie may anyway be the most review-proof ever made.

James's trilogy, with this the first book to be filmed, is about university literature graduate Anastasia Steele and the man she literally stumbles into a relationship with, high-powered industrialist Christian Grey.

His sexual tastes, enshrined in his "Red Room of Pain", veer deeply toward bondage, domination and sadomasochism, all of which are described graphically in the novels.

"Credit goes to director Sam Taylor-Johnson and her screenwriter, Kelly Marcel, who've stripped the first book of its biggest flaws, while still honoring its essence," Elizabeth Weitzman wrote in the New York Daily News, one of the first publications to break the studio-imposed embargo.

Both of the influential trade publications, Variety and Hollywood Reporter, found merit in the film directed by Britain's Taylor-Johnson, making her first big-budget feature, although neither review could be called anything like rave.

"Arriving on Valentine’s weekend with record-setting ticket pre-sales, the first in a planned trilogy of movies will stoke the ardor of James' fans, entice curious newbies, and in every way live up to the 'phenomenon' hype," the Hollywood Reporter's Sheri Linden wrote.   Continued...

 
Actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan (L)  arrive for the screening of the movie 'Fifty Shades of Grey' at the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 11, 2015.    REUTERS/Stefanie Loos