Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver: We’ve Got Good News and We’ve Got Bad News

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver: We’ve Got Good News and We’ve Got Bad News

The good news about Zack Snyder’s latest film, Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver is that, without a doubt, it’s better than its predecessor. It’s more focused, cohesive, and character-driven, telling a story that nearly makes Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire feel insignificant. Unfortunately, there’s also bad news. The bad news is those positives don’t outshine the negatives. It’s slower, unbalanced, and emotionally vapid. But, if you enjoyed the first film, you’ll like this one even more. If you didn’t enjoy the last film, you probably won’t like this one either, but it’s at least a more well-rounded affair.

Most of that is a result of the film’s structure. In A Child of Fire, the story follows Kora (Sofia Boutella), a mysterious warrior who travels the galaxy to recruit a band of warriors to defend her home planet of Veldt from the evil soldiers from Motherworld. As a result, the film had a lot going on. There was set-up, conflict, and a lot of new locations and characters—and then just when things were coming together, it ended.

Djimon Hounsou in Rebel Moon 2

In The Scargiver, almost all of the action takes place in a single location as Kora and the surviving characters from the first film make a home on Veldt and begin preparations for the coming war. With less plot to get through, Snyder is able to spend more time with the characters. Kora reveals all her secrets to Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) as they finally get together and make good on the previously teased romance. The townspeople have multiple training sessions with various weapons and characters, giving even minor players places to grow. And each of the remaining warriors, such as Titus (Djimon Hounsou), Nemesis (Doona Bae), and Millius (Elise Duffy), dive into their pasts while forming relationships with townsfolk in the present. The coming battle then gains actual stakes as everyone develops new friendships, loves, and more. We actually kind of care about who lives and dies. At least hypothetically.

A downside to this more character-focused, insular story is that it’s not Snyder’s forte. So, while he’s doing the right things in theory, it doesn’t always work practically. Scenes drag. Pacing gets awkward leading to disconnection. And, ultimately, the valiant attempts at eliciting emotion largely miss the mark. For example, scenes of farming are oddly told with dynamic slow motion usually reserved for action, totally taking you out of the moment. A crucial scene between our heroes gets overly repetitive and frustratingly bloated when every single character gets their own flashback, told one after the other. Each scene tells us something about the story, but the methods employed feel closer to a checklist of obligations than dramatic development, almost as if we’re just killing time waiting for that final battle. The Scargiver certainly does its best to connect the characters with the audience, but it never quite gets there.

This goes on forever.

Nevertheless, this is a Zack Snyder movie, so if it’s all building to a big battle, odds are that battle is going to deliver, which this one does. After two movies escalating toward this one showdown between the heroes of Veldt and the villains of Motherworld, Snyder not only gives us action galore, but plenty of twists and surprises along the way. The final act isn’t just a fun set piece with plenty of guns, vehicles, battles, and explosions, it unfolds like its own mini-movie. There are highs, there are lows, and then the climactic battle has its own climatic moment that blends elements from Star Wars and Tron. Which we know sounds odd, but it works.

As Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver ended, a few things quickly popped into my head. First, very little of the first movie seemed relevant here. Charlie Hunnam’s betrayal, the giant spiderlady, Anthony Hopkins’ robot character Jimmy, the resurrection of Ed Skrein’s Atticus Noble—a few of these things are part of this story, but none of them pay off in an important, impactful way justifying a whole other movie. In fact, it was almost as if you didn’t need to see, or even remember, the first movie to understand and enjoy this one.

The battle begins.

I also realized that while Snyder is well known for making his movies longer— both parts of Rebel Moon have longer, R-rated versions coming later this year— Rebel Moon simply should have been shorter. Think about it. The biggest problems with Part One are that you don’t care about anyone, and that it’s overstuffed and disjointed. Part Two has opposite, yet complimentary, problems. It focuses more on the characters, but it drags out and gets stale. So, if both parts were trimmed and put together into one complete story, you might be left with something more complete and satisfying than its longer, split-down-the-middle self.

Alas, that’s not the Rebel Moon we got to see. We got Part One and now Part Two, a better film in almost every way, but still one that doesn’t work in the way it wants to. The final act is fun and there is some cool action and world-building throughout, but in the end, even an improvement doesn’t warrant Rebel Moon – Part Two a recommendation.

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

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