Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver

Rebel Moon

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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), generically mysterious Kora (Sofia Boutella), and her unconvincing love interest Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), who is from Veldt too.

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 Heavy Metal comics – graphic-design-forward and stoner-friendly – 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 because I think Martin doesn’t obviously try to show how big his feelings are.

I imagine that Den never lives up to his namesake because of of Snyder’s blunted vision instead of 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.

In “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver,” excess spoils the whole thing as seen in the sweaty and vein-popping performances of actors, just as it also does with action scenes that are too exaggerated and unchoreographed. Moreover, Kora and Gunnar’s overplayed romance is defined by grandiose innuendos towards romantic passion such as when he shockingly tells her what motivates him – “It was you. It was losing you.” Sure, this appears awkwardly adolescent sounding and said so flatly but that’s how Snyder-y style of ‘Rebel Moon’ presents things, whose sound design alone always feels more real than anything on screen in its intricacy or loudness again.

One could argue that it would be best to see “Rebel Moon—Part 2: The Scargiver” at a movie theater since there is a possibility to can listen to it at theatre volume levels making one almost believe they were watching something better. Then again, seeing how Netflix has funded both movies—their most expensive project this year! –and now even released two edits for each part suggests that there won’t be many people able to experience this film outside their homes. Furthermore, who really needs an R-rated version of either movie?

“Rebel Moon” films do not really require being bigger or heavier. If everything else herein feels as anemic and negligible as most non-sexual scenes from overproduced floppy porn then I don’t believe adding more will substantially improve any of it.

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