Given that Fifty Shades of Grey ended with Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) dumping billionaire playboy Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) due to his fondness for inflicting pain in the bedroom, you might expect this sequel to be all about getting the pair back together. As it happens, Fifty Shades Darker wastes little time reuniting the couple, setting the scene for yet another romantic melodrama punctuated by a series of rose-tinted romps.

Presumably aware that watching Ana and Christian go through the S&M motions yet again can only carry a film so far, Fifty Shades Darker introduces  a series of external threats to their relationship. These include a new boss for Ana with his own designs on her body, a gun-toting stalker and the jealous older woman (Kim Basinger) who first brought out Christian's kinky side. Sadly none of these additions, nor a final reel helicopter crash, do anything to raise the dramatic stakes above the level you'd expect from a daytime soap opera.

Worse still, Christian Grey remains a man whose every word and action would send any right-thinking woman running straight to the police. He constantly behaves like a creepy, controlling oddball. Team HCC can't see the attraction, but then perhaps we're not this film's target audience. And when it comes to what goes on in the bedroom (or the kitchen, the bathroom, the games room, etc), Fifty Shades Darker's sex scenes are boring at best and laughable at worst. This is clearly a real problem for a piece of so-called erotica.

Picture: The disc packs a rich, warm 2.40:1-framed 1080p encode that is way better than the actual movie, finding beauty in the opulent locations and costumes. Fine textures are pronounced, doing a particularly good job of picking out every hair and dimple in the many close-ups of naked skin.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Is a DTS:X soundtrack a little OTT for a film like this? Possibly, but those with compatible setups are rewarded by its knack of making the various locations feel like very different spaces by virtue of individual acoustics. The height layer also gets a run-out with Chapter 16's helicopter crash and Chapter 19's fireworks.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The Blu-ray serves up both the theatrical cut (118 minutes) and an 'Unmasked' version (131 minutes). Also included are two deleted scenes, a teaser for Fifty Shades Freed, and six featurettes looking at the characters, the director, the writing process and shooting specific sequences.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: It may flaunt some nifty AV credentials, but this limp sequel still fails to generate any real heat in high-definition.

Fifty Shades Darker: Unmasked Extended Edition, Universal Pictures, All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 2/5