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19th April 2024

Rebel Moon Part 2 review: sloppy, horrid, and unimaginative

The sequel—Part Two: The Scargiver—ought to benefit from a defined focus but mucks it up with frivolous scenes, the worst possible dialogue, and by routinely prioritising exposition over its horridly underdeveloped characters.

Akhil Arora, a member of the Film Critics Guild and a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic with over eight years of experience

Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon Part 2
Sofia Boutella as Kora in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver // Photo: Clay Enos/Netflix

Rebel Moon was just the worst. Zack Snyder—the director, co-writer, and (strangely) also the cinematographer—spewed lore as if he was penning a Wikipedia article, not a movie. It was apparent that he had no idea what it took to flesh out characters and develop their interpersonal dynamics. Snyder displayed an utter inability with the camera, too. Rebel Moon looked like it had been shot on a giant parking lot with its endless horizons and poorly applied VFX. All this despite having the easiest of templates: a movie about gathering a team of galactic warriors. So, unless Snyder decided to scrap and reshoot the whole thing in four months—a trailer for Part Two: The Scargiver was appended to the end of Part One: A Child of Fire, after all —the sequel was never going to be a big improvement over the first one.

Rebel Moon 2 has no reason to exist

In most ways, that is exactly what we get with Rebel Moon 2. Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and Shay Hatten—who also wrote Part One—deliver terrible, terrible dialogue. The lines are so generic and devoid of specificity that they could have been written by AI models. Heck, AI might do a better job. Snyder feels like he’s delivering something epic, which explains the accompanying epic music, but instead, he’s delivering bottom-tier. On top of that, as with the original, Rebel Moon Part Two is filled with dreary exposition. Instead of jumping into the thick of things—Part One ended with the promise of a David vs. Goliath battle—Snyder wastes half of the film’s runtime slashing about, giving you backstory after backstory in a desperate bid to get you to care for the ensemble.

Zack Snyder at Netflix's Rebel Moon Part Two: Songs Of The Rebellion Album event on April 3, 2024 in Queens, New York

All 11 Zack Snyder movies, ranked

Rotten Tomatoes-certified critic Akhil Arora ranks all films directed by Zack Snyder, from Dawn of the Dead to Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver. Arora praises Snyder’s unique style of framing action, while critiquing literally everything else about his movies.

Even as they lie together in bed, rather than be vulnerable and share how they feel about each other, the characters bring in more exposition. You almost feel for them, not because of what they are telling you but the fact they find themselves stuck in a Snyder movie. And he’s so self-serious about the whole thing that even the inherent humour present in his info dumps eludes him. (In one instance in Rebel Moon 2, a string quartet continues to play with zest while a royal family is executed, and a coup is enacted.) For Snyder, it’s all epic and grim and universe-altering. UGH! It doesn’t help that Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver, as with its predecessor, is filled with wooden acting by what seem like third or fourth choices for each cast member.

Ultimately, what should have been the third act of the first Rebel Moon movie is poorly stretched into a full-length feature. It has no reason to exist.

Ed Skrein in Rebel Moon Part 2
Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver // Photo: Netflix

A battle awaits. But first, let’s farm!

Rebel Moon 2 opens with another lazy Anthony Hopkins opening voiceover that essentially serves the same purpose as a Star Wars opening crawl. (The Rebel Moon movies were conceived as a Star Wars pitch back in the day, but it’s almost as if Snyder is afraid of mimicking them too closely.) This time, Hopkins—who also voices the humanoid robot knight Jimmy / James, the last of its kind—recaps Part One in the most unintelligible fashion. The sequel throws a dozen names and places at you but doesn’t have the mind to show you any faces or replay scenes so we might (potentially) recognise them. What’s with all the tell and zero show? Has Snyder forgotten his knack for opening montages?

Alas, that’s only the beginning of a downright useless first hour. After picking up where Part One left off with Ed Skrein’s reborn villain Atticus Noble, Rebel Moon 2 wastes its runtime with all kinds of exposition and slow-motion shots of farming. Yep, you read that right. Snyder spends half of the conclusion to his two-part tale about villagers making a last stand against an imperial tyrant—essentially a dressed-up sci-fi take on legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s excellent Seven Samurai—giving you slow-motion shots of people and crops. Harvesting, milling, and packaging—the whole shebang. It’s an obvious sign of filler, that Snyder is trying to pad up a movie of little worth. (There’s so much slo-mo here, in fact, that it feels like a 60-minute film has been stretched to 120.)

Hey, you, tell me your sad backstory

As you might have noticed, I haven’t mentioned a single character by name yet because they are replaceable and interchangeable. Most of them were given two-line descriptions in Part One but even those don’t matter anymore. Funnily enough, Rebel Moon 2 introduces new, important characteristics for some that the original conveniently forgot about. Unable to sketch out its ensemble and having failed to do much on that front in Part One, Snyder devises something entirely artificial in Part Two, as a tertiary character lists out everyone’s traits and personalities and what they mean in a touching but empty scene.

Djimon Hounsou in Rebel Moon Part 2
Djimon Hounsou as Titus in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver // Photo: Clay Enos/Netflix

Elsewhere, Titus (Djimon Hounsou)—a former general in the imperialist forces and now the leader of the village rebellion—sits everyone down and prods them to share their past. How much more blatant can Snyder get? Each character then narrates a sad backstory involving the tyrannical empire, the Motherworld, and how it took everything from them. These stories feel forced and unnatural and all boil down to “Motherworld, bad”. Yeah, okay, we get it. By doing all this nonsense, Rebel Moon 2 wastes about 55 minutes before it really gets going.

Unfortunately, the long-awaited action set pieces aren’t anything special. They are two-dimensional, lack ebb and flow, and don’t give you a sense of how the battleground is laid out. The protagonist Kora (Sofia Boutella) and the cyborg Nemesis (Doona Bae) are involved in a couple of unmemorable swordfights, but they stand out in comparison to what the rest of the ensemble—Kora’s farmer love interest Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), prince-without-a-kingdom Tarak (Staz Nair), smoky-eyed Millius (Elise Duffy), and Titus—are tasked with. (It’s okay if you cannot recall who’s who. As I said, it doesn’t matter.) To make matters worse, Rebel Moon 2’s VFX is shoddy and unconvincing and the ultra slo-mo aggravating.

Snyder dreams of four more Rebel Moon movies

The chief problem is that the characters don’t matter, and their emotions are meaningless. Which, in turn, doesn’t help you invest in the action and takes the thrill out of the equation. Part One was straight garbage. And though Part Two is more coherent because there’s a defined objective and it’s all in one place, it’s clearing the lowest bar ever to exist.

Here’s the thing: these two movies should always have been one. (At best, we would have gotten neither.) Except Snyder wants to deliver four more films in the same vein—the remaining two entries of the trilogy split into two parts each—with the ending of Rebel Moon 2 teasing a bigger fight to come in Part Three. The artificiality of Snyder’s franchise construction is obvious from even the naming of the two films. A Child of Fire and The Scargiver refer to the same bloody character in Kora, which really shows you where the imagination starts and ends and how much thought has been put into this.

Michiel Huisman and Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon Part Two
Michiel Huisman as Gunnar and Sofia Boutella as Kora in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver // Photo: Netflix

If Netflix thinks this is a good use of its subscribers’ money, maybe we ought to start a new movement called #ReleaseSnyder. Instead of demanding longer versions of irredeemable movies, maybe it’s time for Netflix to drop Snyder from his deal. Sloppy, horrid, and unimaginative, the first two parts of Rebel Moon are a shoddy reimagination of Seven Samurai with none of the wit, nuance, or grasp on the basics of filmmaking. Who wants four more of this?

Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver released Friday, April 19 on Netflix worldwide.

Akhil Arora

8 Comments on “Rebel Moon Part 2 review: sloppy, horrid, and unimaginative

Victor Bond
20th April 2024 at 6:54 am

I liked it ::shrug::

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Rosh
20th April 2024 at 6:55 pm

I enjoyed both parts, it was very entertaining! Hope we won’t have to wait too long for the rest.

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Snyder_drivel
21st April 2024 at 1:24 pm

Incredibly shallow & inept storytelling. Really good slow-mo wheat farming scenes.

Don’t blame the actors. They were trapped worse than Portman doing Amidala. Trapped by a director’s outsized ego.

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Jase
22nd April 2024 at 3:21 pm

Enjoyed both rebel moon films great action hope to see more

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glendaloughac
22nd April 2024 at 6:42 pm

agreed. one of the worst pieces of film-making ever especially if considering the money spent on it. he’s a failed genius.

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mnryan11
26th April 2024 at 2:26 am

awful films, a novice would surely write a better script. terrible

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Joe
29th April 2024 at 8:53 pm

I think the movie is great, I watched and love it, can’t wait for more coming out.

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Keith H
1st May 2024 at 10:08 am

I really liked both. Broke my heart when Nemesis fell though. I think she was one of the best characters. I’ll still never understand this “time for the woman to get tough and empowering but first she needs to cut her hair and look as androgynous as possible” trope. Or why it needed to be a scene of its own. But both of the movies were hella cool.

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