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Fifty Shades Darker Unrated Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Fifty Shades Darker 4KSo yeah I’m a guy.  And yes I have not only reviewed Fifty Shades Darker here on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, but this is admittedly the second time I saw the film.  The first was in the theater!  Okay, here’s my man card.  The truth of the story is like the first film the studio strategically releases this title anchored on the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day.  So us guys have no choice but to take our women out to see this one.  Just like paying taxes each year it’s our civic duty to the special ladies in our lives.  Truth be told also that I actually read the first novel in this franchise.  I did not like it enough to warrant reading the subsequent novels, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t the least bit curious as to what happens to Anna and Mr. Grey.  So that’s my lovely lead in to this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review.  You guys wanna suffer some more paragraphs with me?  Come on!  Misery loves company.

Fifty Shades Darker

Film

For those of you uninitiated to the whole “Fifty Shades” franchise tag there’s three main books all written by E. L. James.  I say main books because there’s another one that’s supposedly based on the character Christian Grey’s point of view while these three “main” ones are based on Anastasia’s.  God!  I already know too much about this.  LOL.  So anyway Fifty Shades Darker here is the sequel to the 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey (Blu-ray review here).  Fifty Shades Freed, which I believe is already filmed is the third entry in the trilogy.  Whew!  I made it through all of that.  Good!

Fifty Shades Darker is billed as an erotic romantic drama film and is directed by James Foley off a script written by Niall Leonard.  As I said up above it’s obviously based on the novel of the same name by E. L. James.  The film thankfully once again stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, with Eric Johnson, Eloise Mumford, Bella Heathcote, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Kim Basinger and Marcia Gay Harden in supporting roles.  Yes!  I was as surprised as you are to find out my Vicki Vale played a part in this one too.

Fifty Shades Darker was released in the United States on February 10, 2017.  The film garnered negative reviews once again, with criticism aimed at its screenplay, acting and narrative, but get this.  It still managed to gross $378 million worldwide against a reported budget of $55 million.  Say what you want about the property itself, but sex sells.  That much is evidently true.  The movie world is void of erotic pictures like this and the women have spoken.  They have rose up like the apes (in Planet of the Apes) and demanded more.  Hollywood has reluctantly listened to their pleas and will graciously accommodate a third film in this series.  And why not?  There’s so much other crap that gets made like X-Men Apocalypse.  Why stop this money wheel from spinning?  I see no reason.  I’m just confused as to how Christian Grey has sex with his pants on all the time, but I digress.  LOL.

So let’s get you all up to speed with what happens here in Fifty Shades Darker before we move onto the real reason you’re probably all here…those 4K A/V disc vitals.  If you have not seen the first film, the following is a SPOILER WARNING.  You have now ben warned.  If memory serves me correctly, when we last saw Christian and Anastasia at the end of Fifty Shades of Grey Ana left Christian and the final shot was of the elevator doors closing separating the two.  Needless to say Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) feels great personal loss over the breakup.  He continues to be inflicted by nightmares about the abuse he suffered during his childhood.  Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) on the other hand is prospering since we last saw her.  She has begun her new job as an assistant to Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson), an editor at Seattle Independent Publishing.  However, Hyde seems to have his own agenda as his eyes appears to show more than just a casual work interest in Ana.

As strange luck would have it Ana attends her friend’s Jose Rodriguez’s (Victor Rasuk) art gallery show and is shocked to find Christian there.  I didn’t see that coming did you?  Ha ha.  It takes some persuasion on Christian’s part, but with some reluctance she agrees to have dinner with him.  I mean come on though.  He’s Christian Grey.  You can’t refuse Christian Grey.  Can you?  Christian eventually tells her that he wants her back, but Ana is reluctant because as she clearly remembers he enjoys inflicting pain on her behind.  He goes on and on about how he has changed and would agree to Ana’s terms of no rules and no punishments if they could just resume their relationship.  She agrees and they all live happily ever after.  NOT!  Fooled you!  Of course there’s some teen level drama thrown in just to make some conflicting ripples  in the storyline, but in my opinion it’s nothing Earth shattering.  It’s actually kind of boring sitting through this a second time.  There’s the classic whiff of death moment, but it’s over before you know it.  The bread and butter here is the erotic nudity and sex scenes.  It’s all anybody cares about and thankfully the filmmakers don’t let peeps down in that category minus Grey with pants on most of the time.  As per my usual words of advice your mileage may vary with this one.  Vroom!

Fifty Shades Darker

Video 

The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Fifty Shades Darker with some comparisons to the 1080p Blu-ray version.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Size: BD-66
  • Clarity/Detail: There is a noticeable uptick in detail between this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation and its 1080p counterpart, but like the sex in the movie this one looks pretty vanilla in my opinion.  I understand this one to be shot natively in 3.4K and up-converted from a 2K master.  Stubble, pores, freckles, scars and strands of flowing hair are prominently on display for all to behold including the fabrics and textures in just about everything else such as sweaters, wood grain and bricks on the wall.  Despite all of this though the image is soft and light at times too.
  • Depth: The onscreen characters all exhibited a three-dimensional pop lifting them up and separating them from their intricate backgrounds.  From vast wide shots spanning the length of downtown Seattle streets to tighter environments like Anastasia’s workplace I was pretty happy with the depth of field in this one.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are deep and inky the majority of the times and warm, natural and inviting others.  The good thing is though thanks to the HDR nothing ever gets lost in the shadows.
  • Color Reproduction: They effectively made it feel like Seattle with the film’s color palette  that goes hand-in-hand with the terrain’s actual geography.  So I guess you could say that the colors are accurate and screen authentic throughout with no artificial looking boosters.  Shots look spectacular in the bright outdoor sunlight and rich, bold and fulfilling other times indoors, but that’s not always the case either so this one fluctuates a bit depending upon the onscreen environment.  It doesn’t always look like a million bucks.
  • Flesh Tones: The pasty white skin tones and hues are all naturally looking and authentic, not that you see a lot of skin throughout (wink, wink).  Okay I guess you can say you get to see your fair share of Dakota throughout.  I even think Jamie took his pants down once according to my fiancee’s excitement.
  • Noise/Artifacts: I didn’t notice any noise or other nasty artifacts present in the 4K transfer that would damper your viewing pleasure of this Blu-ray presentation.  A light sprinkle of grain in the very beginning, but nothing to write to Universal about.

Fifty Shades Darker

Audio 

Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Fifty Shades Darker.  Astonishingly both the 4K UHD disc and the regular 1080p Blu-ray come armed with a DTS-X surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-X Immersive Audio, DTS Headphone X, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 5.1, French DTS Digital Surround 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: The tones, score and sounds employed here accurately recreate the onscreen atmosphere, but that’s about all.  There are some louder moments like a gun shot and a helicopter crash for example, but they are very few and far between.  The bumping moments in the surround track basically occur whenever a prominent hip hop song happens within a scene, but other than that dialogue is the priority here and it never gets lost in the mix.
  • Height: Much to my surprise there’s a height surround track to boot here.  It littles very much though because it’s used sparingly and mostly for ambiance.  However, there are noticeable moments like rain falling, fireworks popping, shower scenes and a helicopter flying overhead.
  • Low Frequency Extension: This is a drama so you shouldn’t expect too much here, but the subwoofer did come alive during the more lively scenes where the pop jams are pumping, fireworks are popping, guns are going off and helicopters are crashing.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rear surround speakers employ the normal ambiance and effects you’re accustomed to with a motion picture like this in addition to the score and soundtrack bleeding through, city life and pedestrians in downtown Seattle, cars passing by, rain, a helicopter and more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialog rendering and levels are clear, intelligible and well prioritized throughout the presentation.

Fifty Shades Darker

Extras 

In addition to both the original theatrical version (1 hour 58 minutes) and a steamy new unrated version (2 hours 12 minutes) with obviously over 13 minutes of footage not seen in theaters, Fifty Shades Darker Unrated Edition on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD also comes with more than 30 thankfully brief minutes of never-before-seen bonus content.  This includes cast interviews, behind-the-scenes features and a sneak peek at what lies ahead in the upcoming Fifty Shades Freed!  Don’t forget with this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray package the feature film is also housed on the 1080p Blu-ray disc as well as a redeemable Digital HD code good towards watching it with any of your favorite UltraViolet retailers and also works in iTunes.  So for now let’s take a closer look at what you’ll find in the way of extras on that 1080p Blu-ray disc.

  • A Darker Direction (HD, 4:42) – In this extra Director James Foley explains how his vision had to meet with fans’ expectations.  What draws a director this?  I’m not sure, but Foley expressed interest in this material and the rest is history.
  • New Threats (HD, 8:54) – Here we have an introduction to some new, dark and threatening characters, including Jack Hyde, Leila and, of course, Elena Lincoln – aka Mrs. Robinson (Vicki Vale yo!).  Needless to say Jamie has always been a big fan of hers.
  • The Masquerade (HD, 6:35) – This featurette is about one of the film’s most iconic scenes: the masquerade benefit event at Grey Mansion.  It explores the production design and costumes and goes behind-the-scenes with the filmmakers and main cast members.  I’m not big on masquerade balls so maybe you’ll appreciate this one more than me.  The intricacy put into the design of this all is cool though.  See I can be appreciative of fine art!
  • Intimate With Darker (HD, 7:14) – Here we have an intense look and discussion about the intimate, sensual and provocative world of Fifty Shades Darker, including a visit to the Red Room and, of course, the new “toys!”  Oolala!  They talk about how they broke the sex scenes up throughout the course of the filming.  Nice!
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 1:53) – There are a total of two deleted scenes found here with a convenient Play All option if you’re too lazy to flip between them.  I’m just saying!
  • A Tease to Fifty Shades Freed (HD, :35) – The moment you all waited for…a tease to the next Fifty Shades film!  And it’s a quick one unlike the film I just suffered through to write you this review.
  • Writing Darker  (HD, 3:16) – In this extra Author E.L. James and screenwriter Niall Leonard trace back the history of the book and introduce viewers to the much darker story and its adaptation to the big screen.  E.L. claims she had no idea it would originally be a trilogy and originally the first two books were one.
  • Dark Reunion (HD, 7:58) – Here the filmmakers and cast members discuss being reunited for this second film, and we explore a little bit as to where we find Ana, Christian and their friends.  Jamie even talks about his gym training a bit.  Yay!

Fifty Shades Darker

Summary 

I just adore Universal’s marketing line for this home media release.  It reads and I quote “Fans can now stay in and have the ultimate at-home movie night with Fifty Shades Darker Unrated Edition, and this time, there are no rules and no secrets.”  Awesome!  There’s just pants!  Ha ha.  So just remember you do get 13 extra minutes here that wasn’t seen in the theater.  You know you can’t dispute that fact.  Laters, baby!

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DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.  And now a word from our sponsor…

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Re-Live All The Red Room Drama

With Christian and Anna in 

Fifty Shades Darker Unrated

on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 9th

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Fifty Shades Darker 4K Cover

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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