Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver (2024, dir. Zack Snyder)

by | Apr 19, 2024

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 122 mins

UK Distributor: Netflix

UK Release Date: 19 April 2024

WHO’S IN REBEL MOON – PART 2: THE SCARGIVER?

Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein, Michiel Huisman, Doona Bae, Ray Fisher, Staz Nair, Fra Fee, E. Duffy, Anthony Hopkins, Stuart Martin, Cary Elwes, Rhian Rees, Charlotte Maggi

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Zack Snyder (director, writer, producer, cinematographer), Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad (writers), Eric Newman and Deborah Snyder (producers), Dody Dorn (editor)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A group of intergalactic rebels make their stand against a totalitarian regime…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON REBEL MOON – PART 2: THE SCARGIVER?

Despite director Zack Snyder’s rather ridiculous recent claims that more people watched the first part of his Netflix sci-fi epic Rebel Moon than those who saw Barbie in cinemas, there doesn’t seem to be a person alive who is still talking about, let alone remembers anything about, his film. Partially to blame is the streamer’s bizarre model that spends millions of dollars on big, bombastic blockbusters and then dump them onto their service with barely any fanfare, but also the fact that Rebel Moon – Part 1: A Child of Fire was, to be frank, pretty bad; a narratively redundant, visually unappealing bore that brings out some of the worst qualities in the divisive filmmaker. The film’s poor reception meant that it quickly faded into the endless Netflix scroll, while the few who were still willing to watch the second part, released four months later, would only do so out of obligation instead of genuine interest.

The good news is that Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver is an improvement over the far weaker first part, in a number of crucial areas. However, while there’s more stuff going on in this film, it still doesn’t amount to anything particularly special, even among Snyder’s wildly indulgent filmography.

Picking up where Part 1 left off, Kora (Sofia Boutella) and her recruited gang of intergalactic warriors – Titus (Djimon Hounsou), Nemesis (Doona Bae), Tarak (Staz Nair) and Millius (Elise Duffy) – return to Kora’s farming community on the moon planet of Veldt, which has been threatened by the totalitarian government of the Motherworld. The warriors empower the humble villagers to make vast preparations for the upcoming battle against the Motherworld’s soldiers – led by Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein), whom Kora had previously defeated in battle – and soon, the stage is set for a decisive fight that could dictate the fate of the universe.

As I mentioned in my earlier review for Part 1: A Child of Fire, the concept for Rebel Moon emerged from Zack Snyder’s failed pitch for a spin-off to Star Wars, which was itself famously inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa, whose classic film Seven Samurai is basically what this two-part sci-fi movie is. Part 2: The Scargiver doubles down hard on the Seven Samurai similarities, with a majority of the film simply replicating the plot of that film near-verbatim (but, y’know, in space), whereas Part 1 was shameless in its ripping off of several other properties from Blade Runner to District 9 to even a famous shot from Free Willy. This one at least keeps the redundancy to a minimum, in a much more focused and contained narrative that actually allows for clearer character development, stronger performances from a committed cast, and better visuals that aren’t quite as ugly as what came before (then again, I saw Part 1 on a 70mm projection, which somehow made the ugliness stand out more than it does on mere digital).

That isn’t to say that Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver completely transcends the faults of its predecessor, for the script (which Snyder co-wrote with Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad) still manages to bog itself down in exposition that awkwardly passes for straightforward dialogue, while most of the main characters have bland personalities that are interchangeable with each other. It just so happens that Part 2 has less of those flaws than Part 1 does, even though you’re ultimately left detached from any real emotional connection with these people or the universe that they all function in, because it’s all so been-there-done-that that you often find yourself reminiscing about the films that it’s emulating than the one you’re actually watching.

That said, Snyder at least has the decency to tone down his ultimate vision for the sake of a decently entertaining viewing experience, particularly during the film’s action-packed second half which features some well-executed imagery amidst a restrained collection of his usual Snyder-isms (the speed-ramping, for one, is severely reduced in comparison to Part 1, which I’m still convinced was over two hours long because of the director’s fetish for slowing down then speeding up action footage).

I just don’t understand why Snyder felt the need to turn this into a two-part movie, as the end results clearly show that there is no benefit to having this particular story be dragged out for as long as it has. The plot itself, once you remove all the redundant world-building, is as straightforward as can be for a single feature – so much so, that even the likes of Pixar adopted this Seven Samurai formula for A Bug’s Life, a film that incidentally has better overall writing than either of the Rebel Moon movies – but Snyder, for whatever reason, seemed to be convinced that there was an expansive universe inside of it that, so far, has wielded mediocre to flat-out dull findings.

It’s to a point where I can easily see someone taking both movies and then creating a fan edit of them into a single, two-hour (or, at a push, two-and-a-half hour) movie, one that reduces most of Part 1 into a three-minute recruiting montage of these intergalactic warriors that might as well have each of them saying “You son of a bitch, I’m in”, and keeps the remainder of Part 2 intact because, let’s face it, it’s the more interesting half.

I’m honestly far more excited for that prospective fan edit than I am for the sequels that it seems to be teasing right at the very end, which retcons a major character’s grievance for no other reason than to create an excuse to continue this franchise into the foreseeable future. If Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver is any indication, there’s a slim chance that these movies will indeed get a little bit better as they go along, but even then I’m doubtful that they will amount to a genuinely intriguing space opera in the same vein as Star Wars or Dune or even Avatar, which despite its own scripting issues at least has a more emotionally engaging set of characters in a world that is genuinely interesting to explore.

Rebel Moon, from these first two films alone, still has a long, long way to go if it’s to even be in the same conversation as those other sci-fi sagas.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver is a noticeable improvement on its duller and more redundant predecessor, with stronger character moments and visually engaging action, although its ultimately bland storytelling prevents it from being anything truly memorable in the long line of sci-fi epics beforehand.

Two out of five stars

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