Fifty Shades of Grey
The E.L. James bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey is famous for bringing BDSM sex into the trash-novel mainstream, but this adaptation from director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) is just a sleek and dull piece of lifestyle porn. Taylor-Johnson seems far more interested in fetishizing sports cars and tailored suits than whips and chains, and the vanilla sex scenes quickly become monotonous and familiar, offering the same oblique, candlelit tracking shots of undulating body parts that we've been getting for decades. This isn't the next Basic Instinct; it's the next Sliver. Dakota Johnson stars as virginal lip-biter Anastasia Steele, and Jamie Dornan plays the mysterious Christian Grey, a Seattle tech billionaire who entices Anastasia to become his sexual submissive. Both actors are trapped by the rigid banality of their characters, and they fail to manufacture any chemistry—without that heat, this is just a story about a contract negotiation. D.B.