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Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver Review

A woman wearing a ripped tank top points a gun at someone, lowering her head, in Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver

Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver is a slight improvement over its predecessor, but it throws out its storytelling efforts for a protracted, empty spectacle.

Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action / Adventure
Run Time: 122′
Netflix Release: April 19, 2024

Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver is the continuation of Zack Snyder’s sci-fi/fantasy film Rebel Moon. Honestly, I’m not sure how many people even know Part Two is out this weekend. Hell, how many people even knew or remembered Part 1 existed?

I was really not a fan of that movie last year, but I just threw my arms up and hoped that maybe there would end up being more to the overall story that justified so much effort going into it. In Part Two, we rejoin Kora (Sofia Boutella, of Argylle) and her newly formed ragtag group of heroes. They return to Kora’s farmland home to prepare its villagers for a battle against the evil Motherworld, which is led by a revived Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein).

Since Rebel Moon Part One essentially ripped off every sci-fi movie ever made, my biggest fear with Rebel Moon Part Two was that it would just rip off Seven Samurai with this premise. And it … kinda doesn’t. It’s clearly similar, but it goes in a direction that at least feels like its own thing. The problem, though, is that its own thing is all flash with very little substance. Part Two is an overall better movie than Part One, but it still didn’t win me over. Which is especially a shame because in its first 45 minutes or so, I was getting somewhat invested.

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I swear the acting from pretty much everyone is markedly improved from the first film. None of it was bad before, but every actor seems able to convey a broader range of emotions that makes them come across like real people. Sofia Boutella in particular does really well at mixing her character’s emerging warmth with her remaining traumatized harshness, and Bae Doona as one of the warriors has a few really memorable and even touching moments of great physical acting that further the depth of her character.

The interactions between all our heroes leading up to the grand battle are reasonably charming, enough to make me want to see them succeed. They even reveal their own brief backstories that would have tied in extremely well to the story had they been further explored in … oh, I don’t know, the film that was made to introduce them. I like how part of their plan involves playing into the village’s perceived role of oppressed workers. Noble’s motivation this time around is also more interesting. He’s clearly been corrupted by his lust for revenge and glory in taking down Kora, so much so that he’ll disregard and compromise his own institution’s goals.

Staz Nair as Tarak and Djimon Hounsou, two men dressed as generals, lean on a stone fence while holding a gun and an axe in Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver
Staz Nair as Tarak and Djimon Hounsou as General Titus in Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver (Clay Enos / Netflix © 2024)

Unfortunately, this is all just half of the film; the other half is devoted to nothing outside of action and loud noises. Once the battle for the village gets going, that is the whole rest of the movie. Rebel Moon Part Two essentially puts all work with its characters and ideas back in the box for an extravaganza that just. Keeps. Going. With rare exceptions where it lets some of the humanity breathe again, Part Two gets lost in the notion that bigger and louder must mean better, or that it’s done such a good job of getting us so swept up in the story that we’ll unquestionably welcome an entire hour of just action and destruction.

I’ll give credit that said action and destruction are all very impressively made. Like the last film, Part Two excels in bringing well-conceptualized visuals to life through very seamless special effects. Excessive slow-mo that’s clichéd to harp on at this point aside, Snyder’s cinematography is at the top of its game, with almost every grand shot looking like an awesome graphic novel come to life and rendered to perfection. Tom Holkenborg’s meaty score adds what would be a chilling extra layer of spiritual weight had the writing been able to compete with it, and the action is well-choreographed and nicely gritty.

But all of those merits just wear out their welcome when it becomes clear the film has nothing else to offer and falls back on its same tricks over and over. At two hours, Rebel Moon Part Two is not a very long movie, and the first half actually flies by. But by the time we hit our third climax, I was going numb and wanting to just get it over with. It’s not like the emotional setup to the battle was phenomenal anyway, so there wasn’t an ocean of good will to get me through it. And it’s not like the first film did any heavy lifting on top of that. The Rebel Moon storyline is acting like it’s as deep and nuanced as the Dune franchise when it simply is not.

There are crumbs of ideas that could have given this franchise that extra heft. It’s hinted that the process of reviving Noble messed with his mind, and I would have liked to see that focused on more. Anthony Hopkins plays a former mechanical knight looking for a purpose, but his journey amounts to the same amount of scarce conversations and pretty images that he had in the last movie. Kora and her friend Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) fall in love because the script says they do and not because there’s more than one minute of them sharing romantic chemistry. A certain character death had the potential to wreck us as viewers had its associated parties been given more time to bond.

Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver Trailer (Netflix)

I’m so frustrated by these Rebel Moon movies because the resources and technical talent that go into them deserve so much better. So many of the images on offer make me so badly want to like this movie. I want to be able to say there’s a strong emotional or intellectual core behind them that I can defend and embrace. There is a robot with deer antlers and a tattered cape in this movie … how is that not part of the most badass film ever made?!

When someone in Hollywood is given as much to work with as Snyder got, for a brand new and original IP where anything can go, I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to make sure that potential goes into the best, most exciting story that can be thought up. Even if that story fails, I would at least expect a noble failure instead of writing that barely even seems to try. Maybe some executive producer thought that would be too big a financial risk … in which case, why even spend this much money to begin with, on a streaming only movie, no less? Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver is gorgeous to look at and listen to, but nothing under the surface makes it worth the time you’d spend watching it.

Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver is now available to stream globally on Netflix. Read our review of Rebel Moon Part One: A Child Of Fire!

Rebel Moon Part One: A Child of Fire Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
Review: The impressive visuals and sound of Netflix’s Rebel Moon Part One: A Child of Fire can’t disguise the recycled nature of its story.
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