The final installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed, arrives in theaters this weekend. It’s a movie about marriage, boobs, exorbitant wealth, getting bullied by poor people, and above all, the ins and outs of the independent publishing industry. It’s the final chapter in the trilogy of adaptations of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey books: 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, which only an alien could love, and 2017’s Fifty Shades Darker, which we mathematically proved was darker than advertised.
Verge reporters Lizzie and Kaitlyn went to see it at the AMC in Lincoln Square on a rainy night in February — a full week before Valentine’s Day, a full 10 hours after receiving, unsolicited, an advance copy of Hey U Up? (For A Serious Relationship): How to Turn Your Booty Call Into Your Emergency Contact in the mail from Hachette Book Group, and a full 20 minutes after knocking back two $12 glasses of syrah. It was the most romantic day of the year, and the best moviegoing experience of their lives, leaving them with only one question:
WHY, APART FROM THE OBVIOUS MISERY OF THE PRINCIPAL CAST, WOULD THIS FRANCHISE END AFTER JUST THREE INSTALLMENTS?
Are you aware that there have been five Pirates of the Caribbean movies, even though that franchise doesn’t make us anything but miserable? That a third John Wick movie is arriving in a couple of months, even though the second one was cataclysmically boring? That there have easily been 700 movies in the last 10 years where a boy becomes a superhero because his wife, child, mother, or male role model is murdered in front of him?
Fifty Shades makes money. Fifty Shades makes us happy. The third one is called Fifty Shades Freed, and during it, we felt free. Why must it end here, just because the filmmakers have adapted all the books in the trilogy?
SPOILER WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE PLOT OF FIFTY SHADES FREED BELOW
Fifty Shades Freed opens with Christian Grey and his girlfriend Anastasia Steele getting married in front of a wall covered with white roses. It also opens with Lizzie and Kaitlyn covering their eyes to avoid being blinded by the oppressive whiteness of Dakota Johnson’s dress, skin, and teeth, which are looming over them at a height of 30 feet, as they settle into their seats in the second row of the packed theater. How we felt: free.
The vows are, you might say, demented. They focus mostly on Ana “respecting” Christian for all her days, as well as Christian “keeping her safe” from, you know, whatever. Their first dance is to “Capital Letters,” a song by Pitch Perfect’s Hailee Steinfeld. The choice is fun but ultimately a little shady, since Christian’s sister Mia is played by Rita Ora, whose song “For You” will also be in this movie, but is not quite what Christian wanted for his big day. No offense, sis! How we felt: free.
Five minutes into their wedding reception, Christian informs Ana, “I’m tired of the riff-raff” (their friends and family), and they leave on his jet. How we felt: free.
Christian and Ana have sex in a gold-plated bed in Paris, then arrive in Greece, where they sit next to each other on a beach and text. Ana says, “Didn’t get much sleep last night,” and lowers her sunglasses as if to say, “Because of sex.” Christian texts her back. How we felt: free.