Tag «Author: E.L. James»

Movie Mondays: Fifty Shades Darker

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this edition’s offering:

Book: Fifty Shades Darker by E L James (2011) | Movie: Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

 

Series: Fifty Shades
Author: E L James
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Man, it’s been a long time since I read this novel! But, it’s probably the one I enjoyed reading the most in the trilogy.

Unlike its predecessor, this one has a much stronger plot (aka not just sexy times). We learn more about Christian’s past, we get a suspenseful plot line and plenty of romantic moments.

It’s a solid sequel I think for a series of this nature.

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Rating: 4/5
Series Review: Full series review here!
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Were My Expectations Met?

I watched the original movie two hours before I saw this in theatres for a little refresher. It reminded me that the first movie had some awful dialogue and not a whole lot going on in terms of plot. So what I wanted from Darker was a more suspenseful plot (given the source material’s suspenseful moments) and for Jamie Dornan as Christian to be not as awkward in the role.

And my expectations were met! I thought this movie was much better than its predecessor. It just seemed a lot more natural in its delivery. There was a touch of (intentional) humour in some scenes which was much appreciated but it was also serious when it needed to be. And for being a two hour movie, it didn’t drag on excessively (and looking back, I’m not sure what you would cut out either).

How Close is it to the Book?

Pretty close actually from what I can remember. It hits all the major highlights of the novel.

I was a little disappointed in one thing which you can read about in the spoiler window below.

My Spoiler Rant

One thing I really appreciated about Fifty Shades Darker was Ana’s insistence that they speak to a therapist to work out Christian’s issues; particularly before she accepts his marriage proposal. I just thought it was a nice, realistic touch to the story and one that doesn’t perpetuate the idea that love can heal all on its own. Whereas the movie lacks this idea by never having a therapist scene and makes it seem as if Christian can change who he is by shear will alone.

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Did I Like the Cast?

I still think Dakota makes a fabulous Ana. She was so on point with this movie.

And Jamie seemed a lot more comfortable in the role of Christian. I think his dialogue improved because he didn’t seem as ridiculous saying his lines as he did in the first movie. Or maybe they just toned down the cheese in general? Regardless, I liked his acting a lot more in this one.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m excited to see how they are going to handle the last novel, Fifty Shades Freed. It’s got a lot of drama and I can’t wait to see it!

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Not only was this book so much better than its predecessor, but it was so much easier to watch on the big screen. I liked the approach the movie took, working with the highlights and making things seem a little more natural and not as forced as the first movie seemed.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!


Synopsis for Fifty Shades Darker (from Goodreads):

Daunted by the singular sexual tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven, and demanding Fifty Shades. While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront her anger and envy of the women who came before her and make the most important decision of her life. Erotic, sparkling and suspenseful, Fifty Shades Darker is the irresistibly addictive second part of the Fifty Shades trilogy.

Trailer:

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Movie Mondays: Fifty Shades of Grey

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James | Movie: Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK(s)

Book Cover | Movie Poster

The Book:

Series: Fifty Shades Trilogy
Author: E.L. James
Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Romance, Adult, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single

Thoughts:

As I said in my series review, I did enjoy the series of Fifty Shades of Grey because I can recognize that it is fiction and it is supposed to be a fantasy.

Does that mean I agree with the message? No.

Do I think they are the greatest books ever written? Of course not.

But I can say I was thoroughly entertained when I read them and I found them to be highly addicting (I read them all in a weekend–not that they are very complex books in the first place).

Part of that reason is the pursuit of Ana by Christian. To me, it does border on the obsessive (which is something I really struggle with when reading BDSM novels; they sometimes straddle that line between abusive and consensual and I have a hard time digesting that), but it was entertaining and I loved the sexual tension. I’m sure I’m not the only girl in the world who wouldn’t mind if a handsome (minus the BDSM fetish) billionaire pursuing regular old me–and the book sales alone prove that this is the case because that is what this series provides: a fantasy.

Christian isn’t really my type of guy but I really loved him with Ana in the later books (once we move away from the sex-only chapters). And I really liked Ana. Sure, some of her narration is a little silly and she is naive early on, but I didn’t find her annoying. I liked that she challenged him and I thought she complimented Christian well and to me that is the most important thing in a romance novel.

Once we move away from the sex scenes (ie mainly book 1) and actually get some plot, that’s when I started to enjoy the novels. I loved the family drama and trying to figure out Christian’s dark past–which I think that helped to initiate my love for New Adult novels where those plot-lines are present in spades.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, what matters to me is that I read a book that entertained me and kept my attention; and Fifty Shades did that for me. The writing isn’t that great–it is often repetitive–and I could have done without the piles and piles of sex but I enjoyed reading these books. They are definitely not for everyone: but if you want to try a BDSM novel and enjoy over the top drama, this is a good series for you to pick up!

Rating: 4/5
Series Review: Full series review here!

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The Movie:

I will admit: I am one of those people who followed any movie news about this movie (not that it was a particularly hard thing to do because it was everywhere) so it isn’t a huge surprise I went to see Fifty Shades opening weekend.

I’ll start with the casting, because I think that is the most important thing about this movie. When Charlie Hunnam was originally cast as Christian, I wasn’t all that excited. I don’t watch Sons of Anarchy but I could see why they would cast him in the role. But when he dropped out, I was eagerly awaiting to see who would be cast. So when Jamie Dornan was cast, that’s when I got excited for the movie. I loved Jamie when he was on Once Upon a Time so I was happy with the pick. (Though for the record, Ian Somerhalder was my pick for Christian as soon as I read the books.) As for Ana, I wasn’t sure who I wanted in that role–but there were some names tossed out that I knew I didn’t want. Dakota Johnson was an unknown to me but once I saw the promo pics she had the look of Ana so I was fine with that.

When it came to the first trailer, I was actually really disappointed with Jamie and impressed with Dakota. Jamie seemed awkward and not as confident as what I pictured Christian to be; but Dakota acted exactly like I thought Ana would. So when it came to the actual movie, I had no idea what to expect. And I kept it that way by avoiding reviews (which is hard with trending social media) before I went to go see it.

And in the end, I thought both of the actors did very well considering the source material’s awful dialogue. Dakota acted exactly like Ana did in the novels and she did a great job. Jamie took me a while to get used to, but I really warmed up to him as Christian as the movie progressed. I really think his role was hindered because of the dialogue because his mannerisms were perfect. He didn’t have as much intensity as I was expecting (which was the impression I got from the trailer) but I think that was a good thing because it might have come across as creepy. When it comes to their chemistry, I could see why some people might not think it’s there; but to be honest, I never really saw that much chemistry between the two of them at the start of the book either (especially their initial meeting). I thought it got better as the movie progressed–but again, I think the dialogue is what really hurts the chemistry that could be there.

As for the adaptation itself: I think it was pretty true to the books. I’m not sure, it’s been 3 years since I read them but from what I can remember plot-wise it follows pretty close (I often get the first two books mixed up so feel free to correct me). The sex scenes definitely had more nudity than your regular old movie but they weren’t tacky and didn’t show much other than the occasional butt and chest shots.

But I still wouldn’t go see this with your mother 😉

Also, the soundtrack is amazing! The songs were probably the best part of this movie!

(Just a last little tidbit: This movie is only the FIRST book of the series. I thought it was going to be all three so I’m waiting to see if there will be sequels. I know that the director and actors are contracted to do a sequel but I’m not sure if it will happen–it looks possible considering domestic and international box office numbers–and rumours have been swirling that the sequel could be out by next year!)

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is the MOVIE. I like how the movie focused more on Christian and Ana trying to establish a relationship than it did on all their sex scenes (ie. it felt more plot focused than sex). It also lacked Ana’s awkward inner monologue. I think book fans will be happy to see the book come to life in this adaptation–and I really didn’t think it was as bad as people were saying. Cheesy at times, yes, but I think that just reflects the cheesiness as the book. But I don’t think it hurt that I went into this movie with low expectations…

Do you agree? Did you go out and see it; or are you going to avoid it at all costs? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Fifty Shades of Grey (from Goodreads): When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms. Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Trailer:

Series Review: Fifty Shades by E.L. James

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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Synopsis for Fifty Shades of Grey (from Goodreads):
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

breakdown

Series: Fifty Shades Trilogy
Author: E.L. James
# of Books: 3 + 1 (Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed, Grey)

Grey is an alternate POV retelling of Fifty Shades of Grey

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Erotica, BDSM, Romance, Adult, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Movie Review: Catch my thoughts on the movie here!
Publication Dates: May 2011 – June 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Preface:

This will probably taint all future book blogs I do, BUT I actually did enjoy the Fifty Shades Series. Were they the best books I ever read? NO. Did I like all the sex? Not particularly. Is it the next writing masterpiece? Definitely not.

My Review:

So why, you might ask, did I (and so many others) like this series if my answers were negative? The answer is that I liked the plot and concept. Roll your eyes, do whatever you must but I am telling the truth–I enjoyed the plot.

Now, I’m not going to lie: so I will admit the truth that there is absolutely no plot in book 1, Fifty Shades of Grey. It is mostly just sex at every turn with little tid-bits of plot thrown in here and there. You know how most romance novels have three solid sex scenes at most and then the rest are just alluded to? Not the case here. I think in the entire series, there are only 2 sex scenes alluded to, the rest we all get to read.

What I did like about book 1 was the pursuit. It is a fiction novel and Christian Grey takes the pursuit to a whole other level. It’s over the top but I can appreciate that it is fiction and it can be over the top. I think that is the best way to read this novel–knowing that it is FICTION and not as a realistic storyline. It provides an escape from other romance novels out there which is why I think it has been so successful.

Fifty Shades Darker follows the evitable pattern of 2nd books where the couple has broken up only to be quickly reunited. But here, I find we get to see another side to Christian and Anastasia. Although Christian can come across stalkerish and a little too alpha male, there is a sweeter albeit darker side (hence the title) and we get to see that in this book. More of his past is revealed and that past comes back to make this book (and the last one) that touch more suspenseful (which is what I enjoyed about this series). I also really liked Ana. She was strong (although extremely naïve in book 1) but I think she grows as a character as the series progresses. I think in this book you really get to see why they are drawn to each other besides the sex.

Finally, the last book Fifty Shades Freed was also enjoyable for me. Again, it’s a little more plot driven and I like that. Not much else to say here without giving everything away.

As for the movie adaption, it can be done I think. There is enough plot in the later books to work with but the first one will be hard to pull off I think. And for my casting picks, I have a few in mind but we will wait and see 😛 You can read my thoughts on the movie here!

updates

–August 22, 2015– Book 4: Grey

When they announced Grey was coming out, I was a little excited. James had included little excerpts of Christian’s POV at the end of the original books and I thought they were interesting reads. While I would have liked one Christian book that encompassed the entire series (not just the first novel), I looked forward to the breakdown of what exactly Christian was thinking in that first book.

Prior to reading Grey, I read the critic reviews that it was just a regurgitation of Fifty Shades of Grey. “It has all the same scenes and dialogue” the complaints would say and I remember scratching my head and thinking: of course it does! It’s an alternate POV sequel for goodness’ sake! I think retellings have a fine line to walk. People want the memorable scenes but they don’t want the exact same novel again and I think that is a hard think to deliver for any author.

It has been 3 years since I read Fifty Shades of Grey so I don’t really remember every single detail of the book (and the movie doesn’t have everything in it). Therefore, I didn’t really mind the “regurgitation”–I feel like it saved me from rereading Fifty Shades of Grey (which I wanted to do in the near future to see how I feel about it years later and after being subjected to its harsh criticism for years). I thought it was in interesting insight into Christian’s mind and I thought James did a great job considering there really isn’t too much plot-wise.

Reading Grey reaffirmed my appreciation for Ana’s character and their relationship overall. While I don’t think her affect on Christian is realistic in real life, I do like novels that have relationships that challenge people to be better individuals. I like to think that love can save, especially in my books and I saw it again in this book. Do I think their relationship is something to aspire to? No I don’t and I like that it brings that much needed conversation to light.

And I really liked that this book emphasized consent and discussion between partners. Ana doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to. She questions, she tries when she feels comfortable doing so but she is always clear that she needs something else in their relationship and that if she doesn’t think she is going to get it, she will walk away. I think people think that because she is a virgin she is manipulated into something she doesn’t want but I never get that impression in either Grey or Fifty Shades of Grey.

I’m going to digress before I write a really long post, so I’ll just end by saying that I liked Grey and recommend that you read it AFTER you read the trilogy (if you did enjoy the trilogy) because it does give some spoilers about events/revelations revealed in Fifty Shades Darker.

Series Rating: 4/5

Fifty Shades of Grey 4/5 | Fifty Shades Darker 4/5 | Fifty Shades Freed 4/5 | Grey 4/5

overall

If you want to try a different type of romance, give it a shot but keep in mind it is over the top. It definitely isn’t for everyone though. I know that the BDSM label turns people off but I would say in terms of the actual scenes it’s a “lighter” BDSM than some novels out there (ex. Maya Banks’ Sweet Series) but if you are uncomfortable with the concept, I wouldn’t read this.

Read if You Like: alpha males, contemporary erotica, mysterious heroes
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM, dislike alpha males

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