Two people hide behind a rock together.

Film Review: Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver


Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver
Director: Zack Snyder
The Stone Quarry and Grand Electric
Streaming on Netflix 04.19

A short time ago, in a galaxy not at all far away from the one introduced in the summer of 1977, Rebel Moon – Part I: A Child of Fire hit Netflix with a dismal 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The last, best hope was that Rebel Moon – Part II: The Scargiver would somehow bind it all together into a cohesive and visionary whole, restoring honor to the name of Zack Snyder, which, if we’re being remotely honest, wasn’t in great shape to begin with, unless you’re a card carrying member of his cult-like fandom.

In The Scargiver, the brave, beautiful and enigmatic Kora (Sofia Boutella, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek: Beyond), known as “The Scargiver”—because she gave somebody a scar one time—returns to the farming colony on the moon of Veldt with her companion, Gunnar (Michael Huisman, Echo 3) and a group of warriors they have recruited to stand against the oppressive might of the Imperium. There’s Titus (Djimon Housou, Amistad, Gladiator) a former general; Tarak (Staz Nair, Game of Thrones), who can communicate with animals; Nemesis (Doona Bae, The Host, Cloud Atlas), a cybernetically enhanced swordmaster and Millius (Elise Duffy, Lucky Me), a rebel soldier itching for a fight. Together, standing side by side with the local yokels and a robot named Jimmy (voiced by Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, The Father), this rag tag group has only days to prepare before the villainous Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein, Deadpool, Alita: Battle Angel) returns with his soldiers to take all of the grain from the harvest. Fortunately, that’s more than this band of copyright-dodging cosmic badasses will need.

A Child of Fire was an epic and insufferable mess which professed to be “influenced by” Star Wars and the works of Akira Kurosawa. This is accurate phrasing only in the the same sense that The Monkees were influenced by The Beatles, Pepsi was influenced by Coke, or at best, that diarrhea is influenced by Taco Bell. The Scargiver is much more streamlined, and it’s basically just the second and third acts of The Seven Samurai in space, so much so that the only way I knew that I wasn’t watching Antoine Fuqua’s 2016 remake of the remake of the 1960 remake, The Magnificent Seven, was that I wasn’t having any fun with it. If The Scargiver is more focused than A Child of Fire, it’s only because it’s merely going through the motions for one hour and blowing things up while piling slow-motion battle scene upon slow-motion battle scene for the next. The characters are all made of cardboard, the dialogue is stilted and, in its very best moments, the plot rises to the level of an episode of The A-Team. George Lucas was open about the way his love of Kurosawa’s works guided Star Wars in the first place, and Bounty Hunters, an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars that was inspired by The Seven Samurai and dedicated to Kurosawa first aired in 2010. In other words, Rebel Moon isn’t even an original idea for a ripoff. 

Boutella is a talented actress with a unique presence, and it’s a shame for her sake that this opportunity at a starring role ranks barely above the 2017 Tom Cruise version of The Mummy on the list of prestige pictures featured on her filmography. Even more sad is that Housou is in a leading role again. A magnificent actor and Oscar nominee (Blood Diamond, 2006) Housou brings gravity and depth to a severely underwritten role, yet even he can’t save the film. Skrein has been getting by far the worst reviews for his shrieking and hammy performance, which I can only describe by saying that it’s almost as if someone put Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket and Judge Doom when he’s revealed to be a Toon in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in a blender and hit purée. While it’s a bad performance, it’s clear that the fault lies at least primarily with the director who told him to play it that way.

As is always the case with Snyder, Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver features intricate and striking visuals, and as always, the divisive director deftly paints pretty pictures with painstaking precision. Unfortunately, even when they don’t feature generic knock-offs of lightsabers, droids or Star Destroyers, they are simply getting to a point where they just feel like the same image recycled ad nauseum, and they are no substitute for a story. —Patrick Gibbs 

Read more Sci-Fi film reviews here:
Film Review: Biosphere
Film Review: Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire