Blu-ray Review: ‘Fifty Shades Freed’ Blu-ray is less than satisfying
By Gwen Reyes // Critic
Clocking in at under two hours of special features, the Blu-ray release of FIFTY SHADES FREED is not a huge time commitment. And that is unfortunate because, with the close of this trilogy, I wish producers had loaded the discs with as much content as possible. Not because the film is some great piece of art or vital viewing for future film studies classes during their chapters on “erotic thrillers,” but because any fan of the series committed enough to purchase the Blu-ray deserves more than commentaries for only nine scenes, a trio of music videos, one deleted scene and an incredibly boring interview with Fifty Shades author and producer E.L. James and Eric Johnson, who played villain Jack Hyde.
Theatrical vs. Unrated Cuts:
The title menu presents two versions of FIFTY SHADES FREED: the theatrical release or the unrated (aka, sexier?) film. Brief spoiler alert, the unrated version is only ten or so minutes longer, and after going through both options, I do not think the scenes added were an extension of love scenes. Rather, one stretched out the wedding between Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) to introduce a character who debuts later in the film. Other scenes added more dialogue to already bloated moments, but the parts that would have made this “unrated” were overall tame without obvious embellishments. You can read our review of FIFTY SHADES FREED for a refresher on the theatrical release.
The Final Climax: Creative Commentary:
This portion of the special features presents commentary for nine scenes. The list does hit the highs and lows of the film, including the anticipated wedding, Christian and Ana’s honeymoon, Ana fighting for her right to work without Christian stopping by to “check up on her,” and their romantic family trip to Aspen. It was neat watching interviews with set designers, costume designers, and producers. The talent interviews are infrequent, which is frustrating, but understandable when considering travel schedules.
Deleted Scene: “Hickey and Apology”
Despite adding ten minutes to the unrated version of FIFTY SHADES FREED, the director still chose to cut a scene where Ana discovers Christian left a collection of hickeys on her neck and chest. She flips out – it’s what Ana does all. The. Time. – and Christian digs his heels in. He doesn’t see why it’s such a big deal that he keeps her from walking around topless on the beach and it makes me want to punch a wall. I appreciate this scene’s removal from the actual film because when Christian is aloof and cruel, it is too hard to enjoy his story.
E. L. James interview with Jack Hyde
Once James took over more creative control following the first film, she became this shadow covering the entire production. So it only makes sense that she would humor herself with an opportunity to interview the stars of FIFTY SHADES FREED. Dornan and Johnson were busy that day, apparently. Instead, on-screen villain Eric Johnson jumped in to take their spots when he found out he could talk about how he didn’t think his character would get a lot of screen time in the franchise. The interview is relatively superficial, but James and Eric Johnson do have some nice laughs together throughout.
Regardless of how anyone feels about the Fifty Shades cinematic universe, the music, undeniably, reigns supreme. The first film featured two Academy Award-nominated songs, and each album has racked up sales and awards. This time around co-star Rita Ora sings with former One Direction bandmate Liam Payne as they run around a gothic-style estate in “For You.” Hailee Steinfeld acts out her perfect wedding with the help of Bloodpop in “Capital Letters.” While Julia Michaels takes her pick of shirtless hunks in her kitchen during “Heaven.” Although these are all visible on YouTube, the collection of videos was a highlight on the Blu-ray.
Overall the FIFTY SHADES FREED Blu-ray release offers a few hours of behind the scenes features, interviews, and music videos to keep a fan happy. A blooper reel or a retrospective chat with stars Dornan and Johnson would have been a nice touch for the final climax.