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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

'Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver' review: Zack Snyder's sci-fi sequel reaps what it sows

Bloodied Sofia Boutella rocking some futuristic laser guns

When you patiently listened to the onslaught of exposition in the first film of this franchise, surely we can get to the good stuff now, right? There's no way to mess this up, is there? Well, you'll be the judge of that when you join the battle fought in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver, a sci-fi action sequel to last year's 'Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child Of Fire', both directed, co-written and shot by Zack Snyder.

Following the events of the previous instalment, new rebel leader Kora (Sofia Boutella) returns to her home village on the moon of Veldt alongside her sidekick and lover Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), Titus (Djimon Hounsou), Nemesis (Doona Bae), Tarak (Staz Nair) and Milius (Elise Duffy). This group of heroes prepares the village in order to defend it against the sinister, fascist Motherworld and its leader Balisarius (Fra Fee) who was revealed to be Kora's dad. Meanwhile, Motherworld's military commander Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) has been brought back to life and he leads the attack on the village as he's also seeking personal revenge against Kora.

You could pretty much write the same deep dive about either one of the two movies without knowing which one you'd be referring to. While consistency is definitely admirable and possibly signals that there was at least a vision presented at some point, it can also be tiresome when that consistency comes in the form of mediocrity or disconnection. Snyder and his co-writers Kurt Johnstad and Shay Hatten somehow continue to fall into the same traps as they did with ''Part One'' as they fail to make the drama in the centre of this space warfare purposeful. Underlined in an embarrassingly devised scene around a dinner table that has the most egregious exposition dump about boring backstories that are visualised with plenty of slow motion—after watching an entire movie of that already—the narrative core of ''Part Two'' proves to be completely hollow.

Beyond the frustrating dialogue and characters transposing it into word salad, Part Two is ever so slightly tighter as an action spectacle than Part One was. Stephanie Porter's costumes and the VFX (supervised by Marcus Taormina) still tell the story decently. Boutella is slightly better in her action hero outing here as Kora gets to explore some vulnerability and sacrifice with Gunnar so her fury finally has some softer contrast as well. Hounsou has a bigger role which is great considering his acting talent. Composer Tom Holkenborg's score is less manipulative, although again too epic for epic's sake, excluding the plucky cues for Nemesis. Even the hand-to-hand combat is choreographed better, particularly the final brawl between Kora and Noble, and the initial confrontation in the village is well-staged, although the battle choreography with weapons and machinery leaves a lot to be desired, notably when compared to what Boutella is capable of.

But those modest upgrades aren't enough to elevate Part Two to a level where these kinds of movies should be and I doubt that ''a small improvement'' is the sentiment that anyone was aiming for. Part Two occasionally has excellent moments visually since that is where Snyder's strengths lie but never does it have anything worthwhile to express either thematically or creatively. It's poorly paced and arranged by editor Dody Dorn and Snyder as the overused slow motion also undercuts the drama constantly, the characters are extremely bland even after spending four hours following their adventures, plus the life-and-death stakes never have any kind of weight to them. Perhaps someone in this fictional galaxy should discover gravity so that we could feel and be moved by something, anything, please.

Smileys: Nothing stands out

Frowneys: Screenplay, dialogue, editing

Watch Anthony Hopkins as he Jimmys his way to the bank for the easy paycheck.


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