Review: Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver

Rebel Moon Part 2 movie poster

Whatever we might have hoped for, it isn’t here.

The moon of Veldt, now defended by half-a-dozen mercenaries and ex-soldiers, braces for war as the evil galactic Imperium returns to… get the grain they were promised?

Written and directed by Zack Snyder, The Scargiver follows exactly where Part 1: A Child of Fire left off. That is to say, we return to a cast of uninteresting characters with no backstories or agency. A place we have very little emotional attachment with, revolving around a mythos and history we can’t understand. Really, the review for Part One could be copy-pasted into this space and save some time.

We have a returning cast of Sofia Boutella (who needs a new agent) Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein, Ray Fisher, Bae Doona, among others, but unfortunately A Child of Fire was critically panned from nearly everyone; with a 5.6 on IMDB, mostly due to the undeserved anticipation it had before release. This was Zack Snyder’s freedom from the Hollywood system! Giving us a new, exciting universe to explore…

But Part One failed to deliver anything but regurgitated ideas from better franchises, bloated with Snyder slo-mo. Unfortunately Part Two does the worst thing it could do: prove that all of this could have been one movie.

Still from Rebel Moon Part 2
Just shoot him?

Audiences watching this entry will be of two camps. One, the camp of morbid curiosity, and two, those hoping for more information. However, neither side will be especially rewarded by slogging through this “final act”.

The biggest influence Rebel Moon has, obviously, is Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, or by extension John Sturges The Magnificent Seven. We have a defenceless farming world beset by an enemy force intent on taking everything they have, and in response the farmers recruit warriors to defend them. Part Two does not deviate from this story. There is one fleeting moment when it considers subversion but quickly opts out.
But while its forebears were neat little packages, this series suffers symptoms seen in other movies when a studio splits a book into two screenplays. The second half is wall-to-wall action as the story comes to its conclusion and character arcs are realized. Wait, Rebel Moon isn’t based off a book; this is self-inflicted, deliberate screenplay writing. Wait, did I say character arcs? There aren’t any.
Why is this happening again?

This isn’t being needlessly cruel; the film barely evolves from the first film. The screenplay gives characters “backstories” in the only way it knows how. Predictably, this is with flashbacks, one character after another, while sitting around a table. The film feels positively laboured as it obligated to say something about these people. Yawn.

Still from Rebel Moon Part 2
This didn’t need to be two halves! (Yes, this image is here just for this caption)

It is difficult to not get lost in the weeds, but one scene begs to be elaborated on. Early on, unfortunately, we see more of Boutella’s character Kora’s backstory. A grim recounting of her turning point.
We see characters led into a room as ominous, grieving music from the film’s score plays. “This can’t be good”, the audience naturally thinks. Then the procession see a band of blindfolded violinists and double-bass players playing the score’s music. This diegetic music makes the scene absolutely hilarious as horrific scenes are carried out, our lead character goes through trauma, complete with perfect music cues from the corner of the room! This isn’t even unrealistic, the band is visibly still playing in the background.

Sufficed to say, opening the film with such a scene wrecks any gravitas or good intentions forever.

The film is nothing but a visual experience, but even then it is not a unique one. The battles are grainy with laser blasts composited over them. There’s no more world building or lore, nor are characters evoking any unique stories or personalities. It doesn’t even end; that’s right, the film promises more.

Diminishing returns, Netflix. Diminishing returns.

2 out of 5 stars

Additional Marshmallows: Asides from the violinists, the other unintentionally funny scene was the robot, who is bafflingly called James. This robot was barely in the first film and has spent nearly 3 hours being suspicious and watching from a distance, having stapled antlers to his head and being weird. But when he reveals himself to Kora again, all she says is: “Oh, hi, James.”

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