‘Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver’ Review: Zack Snyder’s Space Opera Concludes With a Bland Bang SuperNayr

Zack Snyder’s “Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver” begins with a voice-over telling us everything that happened in the first “Rebel Moon.” Or rather, almost everything, since the narrator, voiced by Anthony Hopkins, names all the heroes who’ve been enlisted to save a small farming village from an evil galactic empire, including Darrian Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher), who heroically died in the last battle. Except the narrator never says Darrian died, which would have explained why he isn’t in this movie. In “Rebel Moon” even the narrator isn’t paying much attention. That, or he doesn’t care.

It’s either a weird oversight or a clever way to tell the audience not to get invested in anything that happens “Rebel Moon.” After all, a lot of it doesn’t make sense. Especially in “The Scargiver,” in which a lot of the plot revolves around our heroes saving the innocent farmers of Veldt by stacking grain around their village. That way the villains won’t blow them up from orbit. After all, those bad guys need grain more than anything.

Except the bad guys don’t need grain. They’re clearly not hungry, they’re not complaining about gastrointestinal distress, and at the end of “Rebel Moon – Part 1: A Child of Fire” they were given a whole new mission to apprehend our hero, Kora (Sofia Boutella), and come home immediately. No grain necessary. Heck, if they really needed food, they could have just plundered King Levitica’s planet before they blew it all to hell in “Part 1,” instead of demanding sacks of unrefined grain from one tiny village a few months down the road.


It would be nice not to have to spend this much time talking about the grain in “Rebel Moon,” but “Rebel Moon” won’t let us forget about the grain. Zack Snyder, also the film’s cinematographer, shoots grain production the same way Michael Bay photographs the American military in his “Transformers” movies. It’s practically a propaganda film for the wheat industry. “Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver” could do for harvesting what “Top Gun” did for the Air Force.

Anyway, when we last left Kora and Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) they had enlisted a group of intergalactic badasses — all of them visibly human, even though there are tons of alien species scattered throughout these movies — to save Veldt from the Motherworld. They thought they’d stopped the attack by killing the evil Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) at the end of “Part 1,” but he’s been brought back to life by futuristic glow sticks.

“The Scargiver” never explains how Atticus Noble is supposed to be intimidating after he was already killed by the hero, and without a particularly large amount of effort. He doesn’t even get a power upgrade like Agent Smith in “The Matrix Reloaded” or Colonel Quaritch in “Avatar: The Way of Water.” He’s just the same easily beatable bad guy.

Our heroes train the farmers of Veldt to defend themselves, which doesn’t take long, and the villains slowly make their way to Veldt for the final confrontation. Along the way someone must have realized that we never learned much about most of our heroes, so they all sit around a table and share their flashbacks. Nemesis (Doona Bae) was wronged by the Motherworld and longs for revenge. In contrast, Tarak (Staz Nair) was wronged by the Motherworld and longs for revenge. On the other side of things, Milius (E. Duffy) was wronged by the Motherworld and longs for revenge. And finally, there’s Titus (Djimon Hounsou), who was wronged by the Motherworld and — unlike the rest of them — longs for revenge. So, you know, a good cross-section of different motivations there. Lots of variety to choose from.

Oh yeah, and then there’s James, a cool robot voiced by Hopkins, who, for inexplicable reasons, gives himself a neat cape and a crown of horns. I have no notes about James. James can do no wrong. More James, please.

At last there’s Kora, who finally reveals why she’s a wanted fugitive. As you can imagine, it has something to do with the fact that the Motherworld’s royal family recently got murdered, which leads to a weirdly hilarious flashback where the villains have enlisted a string quartet to provide a live score for their political assassination. They keep playing the whole time, no matter what happens, and even change it up as the plot develops, as if they knew exactly what would happen and when. Now that’s professionalism.

Rebel Moon 2

Eventually, the attack on Veldt begins, and it does not stop. Say what you will about the rest of “Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver,” but they spent one-and-a-half movies building up to the big fight, and the fight is very big. And long. And eventually a little tedious. But by gum there is a lot of it, and quite a lot of the action is grand and cool in an adolescent, pulpy way. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s where “The Scargiver” excels.

Where “The Scargiver” doesn’t excel is most of the rest of it. The cast has to rely on shallow characterizations, and only a few — especially Bae and Duffy — stand out. The other characters are often annoyingly inconsistent, like Gunnar, who is told to his face by the villagers that he’s their heart, even though it was his own greed and lack of loyalty that got their leader murdered and the village in trouble in the first place. Was anyone else available for the “heart” position? I don’t know if Gunnar’s the right guy.

Perhaps the saddest thing about these “Rebel Moon” movies is that we already know there are longer director’s cuts coming, and some of these issues could be fixed in those versions, like many were with Snyder’s “Justice League.” Then again, director’s cuts aren’t always better. Sometimes they’re worse, and sometimes they’re a lateral move, like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition,” which wasn’t so much an improvement — since the underlying story issues went largely unaddressed — as it was longer.

In any case, even if a superior version of “Rebel Moon” does come out eventually, that doesn’t make these versions any better, and they’re the only versions we have right now. They’re both shallow and generic space operas, distractingly derivative of better films while adding very little to mix. “The Scargiver” is the more entertaining of the two, if only because this is the movie where most of the stuff happens, but the stuff isn’t terribly interesting, nor does it even make much sense on its own terms. This movie can’t give scars. It’d have to make an impression first.

“Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver” is now streaming on Netflix.


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