Anastasia ‘Ana’ Steele knows exactly what she’s doing. For all the brouhaha about a film that supposedly exploits and glorifies ‘submissive’ women, ‘Ana’ is a compliant plaything who goes right along with Christian Grey’s sexual and emotional peccadilloes. Basically Fifty Shades Darker is a fairly bland love story with some mediocre and slightly raunchy sex scenes thrown in. All the while featuring fairly flawed characters. At the end of the original 50 Shades Of Grey, the two stars, Ana (played by Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (played by Jamie Dornan) end their sexually-oriented ‘thing’. (‘Relationship’ gives it too much kudos.) I think I’d fallen asleep in a hotel bed somewhere while watching it, but now, at the start of part 2, we surmise the two are definitely not on together. ‘No rules, no punishment, no secrets,’ she says after the pair re-meet at a gallery opening that happens to feature a whole lot of photographs of Ana that are ALL snapped up by Grey. So, they go for dinner after the gallery outing and instead of her allowing him to order on her behalf – as he had done in the past – she actually breaks the mould asks for a quinoa salad.

Wow, she actually has a mind of her own. Or is she just planning on losing a few kilos so she can actually fit in to some of the ‘red room’ designer dungeon sex gear? This round of new courting goes on and a quite a few of the lines leave you absolutely chuckling. Or hiding your head in your hands because they are just so cringe-worthy. Ana and Christian are actually codependent. Underneath all the crap they twist their lives into, they actually get off on each other. ‘You want a vanilla relationship,’ ‘You got off on the fact that up you hurt me’, ‘calm isn’t my forte’, ‘sex is not gonna fix this right now’ are just some of the lines really like they’ve come from a motivational relationship Instagram feed. To liven things up a bit, Ana has a new boss at the publishing house where she works, Jack, who, by the way he looks at her like, has more than book manuscripts on his mind. Anyway, as Grey eventually gets to the first of the undressing scenarios they have relatively normal, polite and totally consensual sex. Another time Ana asks Christian to ‘Kiss me’. While to most that may mean a seriously passionate and overt slobber on and around the facial lips area, Christian heads to the shins and heads upwards. Ok, so we all saw where that was going. The ‘dating’ goes on and they do have normal (at times vanilla) sex although there is some talk about ‘kinky fuckery’ but unless the time when he looked like he was about to work-bench plank her, the ‘kinky fuckery’ kind of passed me by. The fact he asked her to draw some ‘boundary lines’ on his body with a red lipstick seemed more childlike than a grown man.

But Grey isn’t quite a normal ‘man’. Showing her Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman side, Ana complains she doesn’t have a dress to wear to Christian’s family party but of course he tells her ‘it’s all been taken care of’. At this point, you can tell she’s getting sucked right back in. Again. Grey is pretty much a sad & fairly horrible excuse of a man. He may be rich but he still treats Ana as a subject. He’s an angry man who acts like a petulant child. And there’s this ownership situation, which is pathetic. ‘I don’t know whether I should worship at your feet or spank you,’ says Grey at one stage, apropos of nothing, I think my popcorn fell off my lap at this point. But as I swept it up I could definitely hear a hand palm against a bottom. To amp things up, enter an wise older girlfriend in the shape of Kim Basinger, who seems more Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction than Mrs Doubtfire. “He needs a submissive,” she warns young, gorgeous Ana. ‘If you want to make him happy, let him go,” she tells Ana. Overall, the plot is as thin as the panties Grey asks Ana to remove when they’re dining at some cool munchery . . . before he puts them in his pocket. “I’ll never be able to give you that subservience and submission,” she tells him. This was after he’d inserted a line of shiny, happy, silver balls into an orifice somewhere beneath her belly button. I did notice it made her ability to walk a tad uncomfortable. Well, sex and toys are overriding themes so the balls upped that quota and hey, we were only half way through the film by then. Grey goes on about getting off on punishing women before Ana brings a touch of the Oedipus complex into the while scenario. “Like your mother?” She says. (A bit Christian Grey background here: there’s a bit of a grey issue with a drug-addicted mum situation.)

After previous girlfriends lurking in the background and Ana’s boss, Jack, trying to make a play for her, that’s about it storyline wise. Until the marriage word happens. ‘I want to marry you,’ says Grey. ‘Why?’ says Ana. ‘Because I want to spend every second of my life with you.’ At this point the movie has turned into a potential Saturday Night Live skit. But wait. There is some drama. Suddenly Christian has to attend to business via a helicopter and due to weather circumstances the chopper goes missing. Ana is in an absolute state. Search parties are out, the entire American airforce seems to have been summonsed – well, he is an indulgent American billionaire with some kind of Trump-esque power. But then, as quick as the the click of a pair of handcuffs, he walks into the room where Ana has been waiting. ‘I was so scared. I thought I lost you forever,” she says. Personally, I think that lose may have been quite a good thing. Anyhow, they allow themselves some birthday sex, even though he has been in a near fatal chopper collision. She says ‘yes’ to marriage. And they then have great shower sex. Ana finally asks Grey to take her to his infamous ‘red room’, full of masks, various leather goods, bolts and chains and lots of oily stuff. They both obliged. And seemed to have quite a fun time all-round. Cutting to end chase, Christian hosts his birthday party while Kim ‘Glenn Close’ Basinger looks on. ‘I asked her to marry me and she said yes,’ says Grey to a room full of cocktail-dressed onlookers. A few drinks were thrown into faces after that pronouncement and fully expecting a Rhonda Rousey v Holly Holm inspired fight, Kim Basinger turns on her Loubitons and quickly departs the room. So, some disgruntled ex-girlfriends, the even more disgruntled former boss of Ana’s, a Grey wedding, more sexual exploits and hello, sequel three will be coming to a cinema next year.

*50 Shades Darker opens in cinemas today