ENTERTAINMENT

First 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Reviews Range From 'Half-Baked Excess' To 'Fascinating'

02/10/2015 05:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 10, 2015
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Unless you're Kim Kardashian, "Fifty Shades of Grey" reviews were embargoed until Wednesday morning. But when it rains corny sex dramas, it floods. After a couple of outlets published their reactions to the film, others followed suit, which gives us the opportunity to step back and let it sink in that some people do, in fact, like this movie. HuffPost Entertainment saw it Monday night, and while we haven't published any of our coverage yet, let's just say we weren't huge fans. Regardless, despite the sterilization of E.L. James' more graphic sex scenes and initial questions about whether Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have any actual chemistry, we can report that it seems the record-breaking ticket sales will leave fans of the book quite satisfied. Here are excerpts from some of the first reviews:

1. "It’s a slow build to the smutty bits, and one that’s disappointingly devoid of tension. Even so, the movie is, by definition, a stronger proposition than the book because it strips away the oodles of cringe-inducing descriptions and internal monologue that tip the text heavily toward self-parody. Things grow more compelling once Grey whips out his nondisclosure agreement -- along with a nice Pouilly-Fumé, naturally -- and shows Ana his 'playroom,' expertly outfitted with state-of-the-art S&M gear." -- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

2. "What Taylor-Johnson does best is balance atmosphere with action: Desks, benches, bathtubs and red leather beds are all creatively employed, as is camerawork designed to show us plenty of skin with just a few full-frontal revelations. Dornan, unfortunately, never evolves into anything more than a pretty face. But Johnson is a true find: She's so committed, she makes Ana's every discovery -- in or out of the bedroom -- convincing. Though the books always reflected the trilogy's roots as 'Twilight' fan fiction, the movie aims to give Ana, in particular, a story and identity of her own. She's smarter and sassier than her literary counterpart, while Christian, thank goodness, is less creepy-stalkerish." -- Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

3. "Lifted from the first of E.L. James' wildly successful novels, which started as a form of 'Twilight' fan fiction, the movie plays strictly by the book -- which is hardly a compliment. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson from Kelly Marcel's screenplay, the considerable talent behind the camera and a modicum of considerable performances yield a few undeniable guilty pleasures, but most viewers will be seeking a safe word to escape this two-hour-plus mess of half-baked excess." -- Eric Kohn, Indiewire

4. "It’s a drama that can scarcely sustain one movie, let alone three, and as our heroine becomes ever more aware of just how dark Christian’s dark side is, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' starts to lose its sense of humor and elicit the wrong kind of giggles -- climaxing with a hilariously overblown S&M montage laden with so many slow-motion dissolves as to suggest that Ana wasn’t the only one wearing a blindfold during the assembly." -- Justin Chang, Variety

5. "Director Sam Taylor-Johnson had an impossible mission on her hands to meld the tawdry with the conventional. It's like trying to mash up the sensibilities of Lars von Trier with Nancy Meyers to create an end product that will be appealing on a mass scale. In trying to please everyone, though, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has stripped away the fun and settled on palatable. There have been perfume commercials with more depth and story arc." -- Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press

6. "Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film becomes fascinating for the finesse with which she navigates the prudishness forced upon it. The director is capable of pivoting from romantic comedy to erotic drama at the whack of a flogger, her dexterity allowing the tepid sex scenes to be framed by a surprisingly sensitive story of self-discovery. Substituting heartache for handcuffs, 'Fifty Shades' is the rare studio romance in which the characters actually try to understand one another." -- David Ehrlich, Time Out New York

7. "Gone are the truly dreadful aspects of the book, and the biggest surprise may be that Ana and Christian have developed senses of humor. Still, the film never pretends to be other than what it really is: soft-core porn for the ladies, diluted with an 'R' rating." -- Sara Stewart, New York Post

8. "Grey is adequately played by Jamie Dornan, but he’s essentially a cipher for his thousand dollar watches, crisp ties and a fleet of Audis –- his lesser mode of transport when he doesn’t feel like using the helicopter with the word 'GREY' emblazoned on the side. But the real find in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s better-than-it-has-to-be adaptation of the risibly written and ludicrously popular softcore novel is Dakota Johnson. Reminiscent of only her mother Melanie Griffith’s best characteristics, Johnson’s Ana squeezes believability out of one of the more silly romantic entanglements in recent popular culture." -- Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

9. "Free of full-frontal nudity and excessive thrusting and, well, orgasming as this movie is, it never gets to that envelope-pushing place. Which I suspect will disappoint many people, understandably. Oh well. Maybe I’m a sex-shaming prude, but I didn’t mind getting the less explicit version, because the movie is at its best when it keeps things swift and light." -- Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

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