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Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver — B-grade skop, skiet en donder

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver — B-grade skop, skiet en donder
'Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver'. (Photo: Netflix © 2023)

The final instalment (or is it?) of Zack Snyder’s painfully derivative Rebel Moon saga is here, and against all odds is better than the first film. But there’s a catch.

In this author’s opinion, Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver is a better film than its predecessor. There are two ginormous caveats that go with that assessment though.

First, it’s all relative. The Scargiver is better than Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire in the same way that a punch in the teeth is better than a kick in the nether regions. One is definitely preferable, but they both still hurt. Second, The Scargiver is not a film. Not a whole one anyway. Following on from all the waffling team building of the first Rebel Moon, The Scargiver is nothing more than an extended Act 3 of a collective four-hour story that could easily have been told in two. Its entire plot can be summed up in just eight words: “Farmers fight against an evil empire over grain.” (Just why said empire, possessed of advanced enough technology to travel between galaxies, has to have this specific grain, is never even explained).

Lead Sofia Boutella tries to breathe some badass life into Kora, her former Imperium soldier and titular “Scargiver” turned reluctant rebel leader, while Ed Skrein’s toothy sadism at least makes his returning Imperium Admiral Atticus Noble (he was dead, he got better) a bit of a fun villain, but they and the rest of the cast have threadbare fare to work from. In an unexpected upside though, it’s precisely because there’s so much less going on that there’s less that can go wrong.

Elise Duffy as Milius and Staz Nair as Tarak in Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver. (Photo: Netflix © 2023)

Rebel Moon

Doona Bae as Nemesis in Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver. (Photo: Netflix © 2023)

As a Child of Fire zip-zapped from one end of this same-same-but-different-but-still-same universe to the other, it tried and failed abysmally to build a new sci-fi mythology around the evil Motherworld empire and get the audience to care about the papier-mâché characters fighting against it, all of which were stolen without shame or guile from far superior works. The Scargiver, on the other hand, narrows its scope considerably, ending up as nothing more than a straightforward skop, skiet en donder action film, set exclusively in/above a village on the dusty planet Veldt.

Half of its two-hour runtime is a single noisy battle. Said battle is the film’s entire raison d’être, and here Snyder’s eye for splash-page action comes to the fore, even if his trademark slow-motion is so overused that it borders on the sexually deviant. 

One particularly fiery throwdown between Kora and Noble aboard a rapidly descending spaceship is a thrilling highlight. It’s also on the ship that the Rebel Moon universe’s admittedly intriguing production design shines: an intergalactic ship engine that is a living stone head which still needs manually fed coal ovens, humans brought back from the dead by techno-priests with slimy chrysalises and neon light cables plugged into their gaping skulls.

Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble in Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver. (Photo: Netflix © 2023)

Rebel Moon

Rhian Rees as The Queen, Cary Elwes as The King, Sofia Boutella as Kora and Stella Grace Fitzgerald as Princess Issa in Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver. (Photo: Clay Enos / Netflix © 2023)

Of course, the audience does not get to know more about much of anything, really. Outside of one particularly clumsy scene in which General Titus (Djimon Hounsou) has Kora’s other assembled would-be rebels take turns in explaining their rote backstories, the rest of the film’s non-battle runtime is instead mostly spent on farming montages. If you’ve ever wanted to watch musclebound warriors harvest and mill grain in slow motion, this movie is for you. Meanwhile, the characters are narratively still so gaunt and derivative that they’re nothing more than a collection of visual cues: the terminally bare-chested one with axes, the mopey cybernetic one with totally-not-lightsabers, the hunky but lame farmer… 

At least Jimmy, the Imperium robot knight defector inexplicably voiced by Anthony Hopkins, and who is by far the most interesting character in this entire cosmic kerfuffle, actually gets to do more than just run away, unlike last time.

Not that it matters what Jimmy or any of these characters did in the previous film. There’s so little to parse here that one could watch Rebel Moon – Part Two without having seen Part One and not have an issue following everything. That simplicity can be regarded as a plus. But at the same time, given that with Part One, Snyder and co-writers Shay Hatten, and Kurt Johnstad took a fragment of narrative that other films normally relegate to a few montages and then stretched it into more than two hours of setup for a resolution that was pushed back to a whole other movie, that’s rather annoying.

Staz Nair as Tarak and Djimon Hounsou as General Titus in Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver. (Photo: Clay Enos / Netflix © 2023)

Even worse, when The Scargiver finally and much too briefly digs into Kora’s past and her involvement in the death of the mysteriously divine Motherworld princess she was assigned to protect, the viewer is instead given even more setup for a potential third film – the resolution does not actually resolve. This is on top of the R-rated “Snyder Cuts” of both existing films that have already been promised. These upcoming releases are advertised as extended versions containing better worldbuilding and more violence, strongly indicating that even the filmmakers consider the films we’ve already got to be inferior products.

Given all that, it’s hard to recommend Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver to anybody concerned with anything so pretentious as characters or plots. But viewed as nothing more than a trashy B-grade action movie with shiny A-grade visuals, The Scargiver works. Or at least it works well enough not to leave this reviewer scarred. DM

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver is on Netflix.

This story was first published on PFangirl.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Riaan Roux says:

    Actually liked it

  • Evan Snyman says:

    There was a time when the movies were the only place you’d get to see the Hollywood elite… Then Netflix and some of the other platforms came along, and there was a mushrooming of ideas and talent. The bighitters of Tinseltown were keen to be seen on the smaller screen. Zac Snyder jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use the vehicle to produce his version of a Star Wars epic. I was excited.

    Now I am just glad that I could press the advance 10 seconds button often (very often) so that my disappointment in The Scargiver only lasted about 45 minutes.

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