Rebel Moon 2 has the same flaws as the first movie

sofia boutella, rebel moon part two the scargiver
Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver reviewNetflix

Zack Snyder endured the worst reviews of his career to date for the first Rebel Moon movie, but it didn't stop A Child of Fire from topping the most-watched Netflix movies list over the Christmas period.

Whether those viewers were suitably impressed with what they saw to come back for more remains to be seen. However, it's entirely possible that Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver will be greeted with the same critical drubbing.

Given that the movies were filmed back to back, it's not like any changes could be made in response to the reaction (not that Snyder would have, anyway). What it means is that Rebel Moon 2 suffers from the same flaws, even if its pared-down plot marks a slight improvement.

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It's unwittingly a slight on the first movie that The Scargiver only needs a brief opening voiceover to catch you up on the events of A Child of Fire. With the round-up movie out of the way, it's time for war.

Kora (Sofia Boutella) and the rebels are on Veldt, preparing the villagers to defend their home against the Motherworld. Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) is on his way and he's pissed after Kora nearly murdered him, determined to take her back to her adopted father Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) to pay for her desertion.

And that's it really. The Scargiver has flashback sequences to flesh out the backstories of the various rebels, including four consecutive flashbacks (genuinely) during one group therapy session before the big battle. But there's nothing else here plot-wise: its first half is the training and the second half is one extended battle.

That shouldn't be a surprise since Rebel Moon has always been one movie that was cut into two. Before the screening we attended, Snyder spoke of either trimming down his original script into one movie, or just cutting it in the middle. Having seen both movies, the former might have the stronger option.

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The bones are there for Rebel Moon to have been better. As in the first movie, its world-building is extensive and Snyder fans will savour more visually impressive battles captured, of course, in slow motion. (Whether we needed slow-motion grain harvesting sequences is more questionable.)

Snyder also assembled a compelling cast for his Rebel Moon movies, with the sequel allowing Sofia Boutella more emotional beats and for Ed Skrein to attack his hissable villain with relish. You end up wanting to see more of the other rebels, especially Doona Bae's Nemesis, which speaks to the collective strength.

The problem is that it's all just a bit boring. There's not enough plot to justify the two-part approach and while it means The Scargiver is pacier than the episodic, overstuffed first movie, it's not dramatically interesting.

As you'd expect from the war-movie setup, there are Heroic Sacrifices and Last-Minute Reprieves throughout the extended battle. These generate a frisson of excitement, but mostly are met with indifference because it's nothing we haven't seen before, down to the Star Wars homages (you better believe somebody loses an arm).

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Maybe it's the case that when the extended versions of both movies arrive this summer, said to be six hours in total, things will finally click into place for Snyder's vision. Both movies certainly feel stripped down – whether that's character development or even just the action, which is again sanitised and bloodless here.

It's hard to imagine anybody other than hardcore Snyder fans wanting to revisit this world, though. As with the first movie, you're left wishing that with Netflix seemingly allowing him to do whatever he wished, Snyder had chosen to go for the 'full' vision right away.

As Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver ends with a cliffhanger reveal that comes out of nowhere, it'll end up feeling like a threat for most viewers. There's no denying Snyder has created an interesting world – he just forgot to tell an interesting story within it.

2 stars
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Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver is available to watch now on Netflix.

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