Credit: Clay Enos/Netflix
by Matt Lynch Featured Film Streaming Scene

Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver — Zack Snyder

April 24, 2024

Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver is less the conclusion to the director’s epic two-part techno-fantasy than a post-mortem. If it’s the culmination of his vision for this story, a mustering of all the resources Netflix could bring to bear for him, then it’s also a referendum on what, exactly, he’s left with in the end. Is this a work of imagination that no studio would touch because it wasn’t attached to some exploitable IP? Is it a failed attempt to start a franchise that could be built on Netflix’s distribution model? Whatever the answer to those questions, the one thing we can say that The Scargiver is is a bad movie.

When last we left our band of space samurai, they’d returned to the peaceful planet of Veldt to await the return of the evil galactic empire’s forces, who’d sworn to return to pillage the village. Kora (Sofia Boutella), once the most fearsome warrior in the galaxy, until she was framed for insurrection and assassination, is now in the position of having to train the community in which she took shelter to become soldiers and defend their lives and labor. What she doesn’t yet know is that the vicious Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) has been brought back to life and is hellbent not just on accumulating Veldt’s resources, but also killing everyone in his path.

Where Part 1 attempted to be a rollicking adventure in which disparate heroes were gathered from worlds located throughout the vastness of space, this second chapter is meant to be all climax. Unfortunately, that plan runs into a couple of huge stumbling blocks. Firstly, it all takes place in one location, a drab brown planet where they farm wheat — there’s simply not much to look at. Secondly, well, about that wheat: the villagers’ plan is to harvest it all and then use it to shield their town from the Empire’s cannons, assuming that the bad guys won’t shoot the thing they’re there to steal. That’s sort of a silly plan, but even if it’s not, it still means the audience has to sit through multiple harvesting montages, something that is not well-suited to Snyder’s penchant for slow-motion tableaux, the splash pages if you will for his comic book style. Matters are made worse when, now almost three hours in to his two-part saga, there’s an extended series of flashbacks in which the characters detail even more of their backstory and trauma.

The last hour of The Scargiver is all big battle, but very quickly this descends into monotony. There’s only so much brown dust you can kick up with laser beams before it starts getting repetitive, and Snyder unfortunately fails to develop much geography, so it’s never entirely clear who is where and what they’re shooting at. More robots and more tanks keep coming, and eventually, the whole village gets shot to hell in due course of the fight anyway, so it all plays as nothing more than a big brown digital shrug. And despite all the screen time Snyder’s devoted to his band of badasses, having some of them unceremoniously killed off by random space nazis earns zero impact. As with Part One, by the time it’s all over, it just feels like content.

Which, if you look at how Netflix has treated this gigantic investment of money and effort, is apparently exactly what it is to them. The Scargiver was basically dumped onto the streaming giant with little fanfare, while Part 1 was given a short 70mm theatrical run. No such luck for this one, which won’t receive any kind of theatrical release at all, and in fact, review screeners weren’t even sent out until the day before release, with an embargo of exactly one minute before the film’s drop. Does Netflix need critics to help this franchise? Absolutely not, but the lack of promotion, the curtailed release, and the lack of press access don’t do much to convince the assertion that millions and millions of people are watching and loving these films. Snyder, whose guilelessness both as a person and a filmmaker is to be celebrated even when the work is messy, can’t possibly be happy with what’s happened to his baby here. This labor of love — even if it’s not a good movie — is just getting disappeared into the system that birthed it, swept under a seemingly infinite rug of forgotten art.

DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder;  CAST: Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Michiel Huisman, Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein;  DISTRIBUTOR: Netflix;  STREAMING: April 19;  RUNTIME: 2 hr. 3 min.