May 30, 2024 1:33 pm

Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver
Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver

Will there ever be a version of “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” that makes the movie and its franchise seem essential? Director and co-writer Zack Snyder has already tried to whip up his fanbase by teasing “R-rated” versions of the first two entries in his ongoing “Star Wars” ripoff cycle, a lifeless homage to that other IPed-to-death sci-fi series. The well-covered struggle to release the Snyder cut of “Justice League” notably improved what was only ever a passable super-programmer. It’s also established an unfortunate precedent for how “Rebel Moon” is now being advertised, as a victim of its own release strategy.  

Unfortunately, while I can’t review a version of “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” that I wasn’t allowed to see, I can say that I doubt more (or just more extreme) violence and sex will improve this joyless expansion of the previous movie’s Kurosawa-sploitation space opera. The shortcomings that kept the first “Rebel Moon” from ever taking off are still apparent in its sequel, particularly Snyder’s disinterest in his actors’ performances as well as this movie’s vast array of bland visuals and flavorless dialogue. Like the last one, the latest “Rebel Moon” looks like it was rushed through production to compete with whatever “Star Wars” series is now streaming on Disney+. The Snyder faithful may see something in “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” that the rest of us can’t, but that doesn’t make this tired sequel any less puny.

Previously on “Rebel Moon”: A group of misfit rebels banded together and seemingly defeated the Imperial Space Nazis, led by the goofily accented Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) and the lanky rage-case fascist Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein). Noble was killed at the end of “Rebel Moon—Part 1: A Child of Fire,” but even the end of that movie hinted that he wouldn’t be dead for long. Sure enough, he’s back again and now angry enough to retaliate against the smalltown farmers of Veldt, an idyllic moon with Smallville-style fields of space-grain, Oshkosh B’gosh catalog-ready space-farm children, and “Asterix”-type longhouses, too. 

Who will save the people of Veldt, represented here by the young and ripped hunter Den (Stuart Martin) and the older but also chiseled Hagen (“A White, White Day” star Ingvar Sigurdsson)? The same motley crew as last time, still led by the scowling ex-general Titus (Djimon Hounsou, the generically mysterious Kora (Sofia Boutella), and her unconvincing love interest Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), the last of whom is also from Veldt. In case you’re wondering what else has changed since the last “Rebel Moon”: there’s a scene where our heroes share what they’re really fighting for, which they emphasize through momentum-throttling, voiceover-smothered flashbacks. 

Among other acknowledged influences on the “Rebel Moon” movies, Snyder claims kinship with the graphic-design-forward and stoner-friendly “Heavy Metal” brand of comics, an inspiration that Snyder teases in Martin’s character name (named after Richard Corben’s serialized space-barbarian “Den” comics). I don’t see it, and it’s not because Martin isn’t obviously trying to emphasize the sheer immensity of his emotions. I imagine that Den never lives up to his namesake because of of Snyder’s blunted vision and not Martin or his performance. For supporting evidence, see how often intensity and action figure poses stand in for character and detail in just about everyone else’s performances.

More is often less in “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver,” not only when it comes to the movie’s sweaty, vein-activating performances, but also its over-exaggerated and under-choreographed action scenes. Kora and Gunnar’s overblown romance is also defined by bold, sweeping hints at romantic passion, like when he unbelievably confesses to her what motivates him: “It was you. It was losing you.” Never mind the gawky adolescent phrasing and the unbelievably flat line-reading—this gesture towards big-ness exemplifies the Snyder-y style of “Rebel Moon,” a series whose sound design is always more convincing, in both its nuance and sheer volume, than whatever’s on-screen. 

Seeing “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” in a theater would probably be the best way to go, since that way you can hear the movie loud enough to imagine you’re watching something better. Then again, the fact that Netflix produced both movies—their most expensive production of 2023!—and is apparently now releasing at least two cuts per installment, suggests that not many people will be able to see this movie beyond their living rooms. In this light, it’s hard to imagine the necessity of a separate R-rated version of either movie. 

The problem with the “Rebel Moon” movies isn’t that they need to be bigger or heavier to be better. If everything else feels as anemic and negligible as the non-sexual scenes in a floppy, overproduced porno, then I don’t think that adding more of everything will greatly enhance anything. 

Will there ever be a version of “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” that makes the movie and its franchise seem essential? Director and co-writer Zack Snyder has already tried to whip up his fanbase by teasing “R-rated” versions of the first two entries in his ongoing “Star Wars” ripoff cycle, a lifeless homage to that other IPed-to-death sci-fi series. The well-covered struggle to release the Snyder cut of “Justice League” notably improved what was only ever a passable super-programmer. It’s also established an unfortunate precedent for how “Rebel Moon” is now being advertised, as a victim of its own release strategy.   Unfortunately, while I can’t review a version of “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” that I wasn’t allowed to see, I can say that I doubt more (or just more extreme) violence and sex will improve this joyless expansion of the previous movie’s Kurosawa-sploitation space opera. The shortcomings that kept the first “Rebel Moon” from ever taking off are still apparent in its sequel, particularly Snyder’s disinterest in his actors’ performances as well as this movie’s vast array of bland visuals and flavorless dialogue. Like the last one, the latest “Rebel Moon” looks like it was rushed through production to compete with whatever “Star Wars” series is now streaming on Disney+. The Snyder faithful may see something in “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” that the rest of us can’t, but that doesn’t make this tired sequel any less puny. Previously on “Rebel Moon”: A group of misfit rebels banded together and seemingly defeated the Imperial Space Nazis, led by the goofily accented Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) and the lanky rage-case fascist Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein). Noble was killed at the end of “Rebel Moon—Part 1: A Child of Fire,” but even the end of that movie hinted that he wouldn’t be dead for long. Sure enough, he’s back again and now angry enough to retaliate against the smalltown farmers of Veldt, an idyllic moon with Smallville-style fields of space-grain, Oshkosh B’gosh catalog-ready space-farm children, and “Asterix”-type longhouses, too.  Who will save the people of Veldt, represented here by the young and ripped hunter Den (Stuart Martin) and the older but also chiseled Hagen (“A White, White Day” star Ingvar Sigurdsson)? The same motley crew as last time, still led by the scowling ex-general Titus (Djimon Hounsou, the generically mysterious Kora (Sofia Boutella), and her unconvincing love interest Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), the last of whom is also from Veldt. In case you’re wondering what else has changed since the last “Rebel Moon”: there’s a scene where our heroes share what they’re really fighting for, which they emphasize through momentum-throttling, voiceover-smothered flashbacks.  Among other acknowledged influences on the “Rebel Moon” movies, Snyder claims kinship with the graphic-design-forward and stoner-friendly “Heavy Metal” brand of comics, an inspiration that Snyder teases in Martin’s character name (named after Richard Corben’s serialized space-barbarian “Den” comics). I don’t see it, and it’s not because Martin isn’t obviously trying to emphasize the sheer immensity of his emotions. I imagine that Den never lives up to his namesake because of of Snyder’s blunted vision and not Martin or his performance. For supporting evidence, see how often intensity and action figure poses stand in for character and detail in just about everyone else’s performances. More is often less in “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver,” not only when it comes to the movie’s sweaty, vein-activating performances, but also its over-exaggerated and under-choreographed action scenes. Kora and Gunnar’s overblown romance is also defined by bold, sweeping hints at romantic passion, like when he unbelievably confesses to her what motivates him: “It was you. It was losing you.” Never mind the gawky adolescent phrasing and the unbelievably flat line-reading—this gesture towards big-ness exemplifies the Snyder-y style of “Rebel Moon,” a series whose sound design is always more convincing, in both its nuance and sheer volume, than whatever’s on-screen.  Seeing “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” in a theater would probably be the best way to go, since that way you can hear the movie loud enough to imagine you’re watching something better. Then again, the fact that Netflix produced both movies—their most expensive production of 2023!—and is apparently now releasing at least two cuts per installment, suggests that not many people will be able to see this movie beyond their living rooms. In this light, it’s hard to imagine the necessity of a separate R-rated version of either movie.  The problem with the “Rebel Moon” movies isn’t that they need to be bigger or heavier to be better. If everything else feels as anemic and negligible as the non-sexual scenes in a floppy, overproduced porno, then I don’t think that adding more of everything will greatly enhance anything.  Read More