Rebel Moon Part Two – The Scargiver review: "Zack Snyder’s sci-fi epic stumbles towards the finish line"

Rebel Moon - Part 2: The Scargiver
(Image: © Netflix)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Snyder’s sci-fi epic stumbles towards the finish line with an underwhelming Part Two that feels more like a Part One-And-A-Half.

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Say what you like about Rebel Moon Part One: A Child Of Fire (and Lord knows the critics did…), but at least it had a variety of galactic locations and striking set pieces. Odd, then, there is so little ambition to be found in the second half of Zack Snyder’s Seven Samurai-riffing space yarn, a battle movie beyond the stars that eventually dissipates into a deafening and deadening muddle.

The setting is Veldt, a peaceful moon populated by wheat-growing farmers who have recruited a troupe of freelance renegades to stop their crops being seized by the forces of the malevolent Imperium. Evil Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) and his dreaded Death Star… sorry, Dreadnought, are only days away, so there’s not much time to a) bring in the harvest and b) turn farmers into fighters – tasks laboriously enacted in an opening hour of montage-heavy preamble.

Exposition-dump flashbacks reveal why 'Scargiver' Kora (Sofia Boutella) is now a warrior in hiding, how swordswoman Nemesis (Doona Bae) got her laser-generating forearms and what turned General Titus (Djimon Hounsou) into a drunk. (There is also some business involving ceremonial tea towels.) Really, however, it’s all just filler before the main event: a battle royale between Noble’s soldiers and Kora’s mercenaries that reduces the scenery to rubble and a lot of hi-tech weaponry to scrap metal. 

Rebel #2 certainly doesn’t go halves on the action, not least when it moves to the Dreadnought itself for the inevitable Kora-Noble face-off. The problem is there’s no let-up. Snyder assails the viewer with a numbing salvo of firefights, duels and explosions that’s as hard to withstand as it is to care about. 

After the first film’s elaborate scene-setting, the least its successor should offer is a rewarding, coherent climax. If anything, though, this is more of a retrenchment, with certain members of Boutella’s team (Staz Nair’s beefcake Tarak, for instance) used so scantily you question why they were introduced in the first place.

"You can’t win!" cautions kindly robot ‘Jimmy’ at one stage in the sonorous tones of Anthony Hopkins. Is he talking about the people of Veldt, you wonder? Or is he referring to Snyder’s loyal fans, who will have to endure two three-hour director’s cuts (and perhaps another sequel) before he gets Rebel Moon out of his system?

Rebel Moon Part Two: The Scargiver is available on Netflix from April 19. For more, check out our guides to the best Netflix movies and the best Netflix shows to stream right now.

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Freelance Writer

Neil Smith is a freelance film critic who has written for several publications, including Total Film. His bylines can be found at the BBC, Film 4 Independent, Uncut Magazine, SFX Magazine, Heat Magazine, Popcorn, and more.