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'Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver' Review

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April 19, 2024
Hunter Friesen
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It’s ironic, but not unexpected, that the conclusion of Zack Snyder’s mega-budget blockbuster duology, the project that was supposed to bring every other studio’s franchises to its knees, has been treated by Netflix the same way it would churn out any piece of cinematic slop to its subscribers. The big game commercial spots have been replaced with tacky social media ads, the lavish red carpet premieres with unpublished fan screenings, the boastful (a better word would be “delusional”) interviews with boilerplate salesmanship, and the touting about the future of movie distribution being changed forever have altogether ceased. What was once planned to be an event film has been reduced to a footnote in the endless scroll along with nearly everything else the streamer gets its greedy hands on.

That ho-hum attitude toward the release couldn’t be more opposite from the film itself, which is able to find its feet and deliver the grandiose chaos that fans have been longing for after Part 1: A Child of Fire sacrificed itself to (poorly) lay the foundation of this universe. But Snyder and his two co-writers, Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad, can’t trust their audiences to remember anything from what they watched just four months ago, so we’re forced to listen to Anthony Hopkins give a “previously on…” recap as the opening shot descends on the dreadnaught mothership of the Imperium. On that ship is Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein), who’s more-or-less been Frankensteined back to life after meeting his demise at the hands of Kora (Sofia Boutella) in the last movie. I know what you’re thinking. Did they at least use his resurrection as an opportunity to fix his haircut? I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s still as terrible as ever.

The seven samurai of the outer worlds have been assembled, and now it’s time to prepare to defend the village against everything the Imperium will throw at them. Despite being ten minutes shorter than its predecessor, The Scargiver gets much more time to breathe thanks to the incessant hopping to nondescript worlds no longer being needed. Everything takes place in the village, save for the ungodly long dinner table scene where each character goes around giving a redundantly extended flashback to their origin. I know my curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll indulge in the future Snyder Cuts of these two features, but the thought of that scene being stretched even more does send a shiver down my spine.

After that and an extended trip to FarmVille, the carnage can ensue. It might be a sacrilegious act to even compare the two, but there’s no escaping the feeling that the final hour and change of this film is Snyder’s attempt at his own Battle of Helm’s Deep from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Waves of faceless soldiers descend upon the village, ready to be mowed down by the plucky farmers. Snyder’s usual slow motion is on full display here, with some epic moments being bound to line the racks of every screensaver website, while others flounder under the weight of the pretentiousness. And it’s still worth pointing out that Snyder once again serves as his own cinematographer, employing that ultra-shallow focus that we’ve all come to hate.

Even with all those (very valid) complaints, none of this is as exhaustively mediocre as it was in A Child of Fire. Maybe it’s because of my reduced expectations or inability to fully care about what Snyder is dishing out, but there’s a lot of mindless enjoyment to be had. The explosions are forceful, the action is more competently filmed, and the objectives are clear. I dare say that I would have semi-welcomed experiencing this in the theater. The loudspeakers would have greatly helped in appreciating Junkie XL’s bombastic score, borrowing liberally from his work from Zack Snyder’s Justice League (not that I’m complaining).

It’s easier to have fun with The Scargiver now that you’re not being bombarded with the tenacity of a used car salesman. I’m sure that’s not exactly the approach Netflix and Snyder had when they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into this wannabe franchise, which has four more entries planned. But that’s the reality of the situation, so it’s best we keep Snyder out of the headlines and just let the movie do the talking (or yelling for that matter).

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