Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver Repeats Its Predecessor’s Mistakes

Zack Snyder delivers the second half of his sci-fi epic... but something’s still missing.

Inverse Reviews

Must a movie truly be “good”? Is it not enough to watch Sofia Boutella, covered in blood and sweat, wield a massive gun against a crush of faceless adversaries?

If you caught the first half of Rebel Moon, Zack Snyder’s bewildering take on sci-fi fantasy, you might know the answer to that question already — and it’s not all that positive. A Child of Fire wanted to be a lot more than it actually was; it felt like the promise of a fulfilling movie, rather than a standalone story. That might have something to do with the director’s cuts that were announced alongside this duology. Producers at Netflix commissioned two versions of Rebel Moon: a PG-13 iteration, and one that lives up to Snyder’s reputation as a “Hard R” director. The latter will reportedly add about an hour of context to each part of its story... which means that we’re basically still waiting for the version we should have gotten in the first place.

Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver has to answer even more questions than its predecessor. Is any of this worth it when the definitive cuts are still languishing on some Netflix server? Can Snyder’s ambitious worldbuilding, or his evocative cast, justify the saga that he’s trying to create? The answer is... not really.

Snyder touts The Scargiver as a war epic, and it certainly delivers on that front.


The Scargiver is a “part two” in every sense, picking up shortly where A Child of Fire left its heroes. A group of warriors from across the galaxy — led by Kora (Boutella), a former soldier of the Imperium — have assembled to defend the agrarian moon of Veldt from imperial occupation. After an explosive altercation with Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein), the commander that’s hellbent on subduing Veldt and taking the moon’s entire harvest, our rebels believe they’ve won the battle. Unfortunately for them, Noble won’t be defeated so easily — not only because he’s some kind of android (the specifics of his anatomy are frustratingly never explained), but because he’s one of the few that actually knows Kora’s true identity.

Kora isn’t just a disgraced imperial soldier. She was once known across the galaxy as the formidable General Arthelais. And crucially, she’s also the surrogate daughter of the power-hungry Balisarius (Fra Fee), who orchestrated a coup against the former king and now rules with an iron fist. We’re told he’s searching in earnest for Kora, despite their fraught relationship — and their dynamic ranks high among Rebel Moon’s most interesting ideas. That said, it remains woefully underbaked, a bigger conflict for a subsequent film we may never see.

Anyway, Noble wants imperial glory, and he’s convinced that capturing Kora and making an example of Veldt is the quickest path to it. So to Veldt he returns with the full might of his dreadnought, the aptly-named King’s Gaze, to do just that. Kora and her allies have just five days to gather the harvest and prep Veldt’s once-peaceful farmers for all-out war.

The Scargiver might have a smaller scope, but its attention to detail reigns supreme.


Snyder positioned The Scargiver as a war epic above all, making the film a real departure from its predecessor. Where A Child of Fire hopscotched from one planet to the next, The Scargiver plants its feet on Veldt. On one hand, that allows our story to actually slow down, and we finally get to know the characters that were once just empty archetypes. The Scargiver dances around the mysteries teased in A Child of Fire, answering some (why did Kora leave the Imperium?) while saving others (what’s the deal with Jimmy, the warrior robot voiced by Anthony Hopkins?) for that upcoming director’s cut. Snyder is much less focused on worldbuilding here, instead working to strengthen the inner worlds of his cast.

The loss of compelling, charismatic actors like Charlie Hunnam and Ray Fisher — whose characters did not survive the events of Rebel Moon: Part One — could have seriously hurt Part Two’s chances of success. But their departure does leave room for other members of the ensemble, like Nemesis (Bae Doona) and General Titus (Djimon Hounsou), to come into their own.

But there are limits to this change in pace. The stakes don’t feel as weighty here, especially since Snyder’s priorities are never where they ought to be. For Rebel Moon, he serves as director, writer, and cinematographer — a choice that ironically makes this feel like less of a Snyder film. The Scargiver lacks the operatic, glossy touch of projects like 300 and Sucker Punch (both shot by Larry Fong). Its aesthetic choices are frequently off-kilter and sluggish, overwhelmed by dust and devoid of a real sense of place.

Snyder also places way too much emphasis on utterly trivial aesthetics, like the harvest on Veldt. He dedicates dozens of tedious, slow-motion shots to the cutting, gathering, and milling of wheat (yes, really). It’s excruciating, especially when you think about all that was cut to retain these sequences at all.

Snyder dedicates more time to his rag-tag cast of characters, making for a more emotionally satisfying watch.


The Scargiver makes one baffling editing choice after another; the gaps in context feel more like gaping wounds. There is still a lot to like, particularly in the earnest performances from each member of the cast. They sell the stakes of this story whenever the script fails — but the emotional bonds between our heroes still don’t get much room to breathe. There’s something else dwelling just beyond the frame, living between lines of clunky exposition.

Mercifully, though, Snyder hasn’t lost his appetite for action. Again, The Scargiver is a war film, and the second half of this film is dedicated entirely to its blistering climax. A relatively modest farm turns into a battleground, while Snyder sets the film’s final showdown on a crumbling imperial vessel. When everything clicks, it makes for perfect turn-your-brain-off spectacle. And it helps that Boutella, Hounsou, and Bae deliver on both the physical and emotional front: we may be dealing with half a film here, but their commitment to the material tips us off to a more satisfying story around the corner.

There’s no doubt that The Scargiver’s director’s cut will deliver the epic we actually want to see. But when the dust finally settles and the “real” Rebel Moon emerges, will there be any interest in it?

Rebel Moon: The Scargiver premieres on Netflix on April 19.

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