REBEL MOON – PART 2: THE SCARGIVER. “Dune” for the Impoverished [REVIEW]

If “Dune” and “Star Wars” were crafted with carefully selected herbs, then “Rebel Moon” is merely the dregs of that tea.

Jakub Piwoński

22 April 2024

rebel moon

Recently, we collectively gathered in cinemas to see the second part of Dune, a prominent science fiction spectacle. Then, on April 19th, the second part of another equally renowned and spectacular science fiction show debuted on Netflix. In terms of meaning, it’s comparable to Dune but… not really in the same league. Rebel Moon is indeed a creation born of love, but entirely unfit for loving. Paradoxically… it still possesses something enticing.

Looking at Rebel Moon – Part 2: The Scargiver in terms of quality, one might consider this title highly unfortunate. Yes, it is a film that wounds. It’s hard not to be indifferent to the fact that it was very problematically written. It’s incredibly curious to me that the second part is structured in a way that, instead of piquing our interest with a strong impact, bores us for over forty minutes with reintroductions to the mission and motivation of the heroine, supported by rather odd scenes of idyllic settings and festivities (!), only to then stretch the entire middle act into the finale with uninterrupted action. So, first and foremost – poor narrative management.

rebel moon

Secondly – the story is completely unengaging. Frankly, I felt more engaged in the first installment when Snyder was just revealing this world to us. There was curiosity then. Here, we’re simply dealing with a prolonged wrapping up of threads from the previous part, which also proves that the division into two parts was artificial, clearly dictated by marketing considerations (likely beneficial to Netflix decision-makers, although Snyder himself probably didn’t know how to handle it at the editing table). Two glaringly idiotic story elements serve as evidence of this – the “death” of the villain only to resurrect him in the second part for a time, culminating in yet another, identical scene of arrival at the village and disastrously executed negotiations; and the scene where a group of heroes, sitting at a table, exchange life’s unpleasant experiences, which technically is nothing more than… filling the film with flashbacks.

I really don’t know what happened to Zack Snyder, but he is today a shadow of the creator I remember from experiences with films like Dawn of the Dead or 300. Everything that made his brand – slow motion and very distinctive special effects – now paints a caricature instead of building a monument. Even Sucker Punch was alarming because the creator then hinted that a shallow script is fine as long as it lets you fetishize destruction again. Everything that didn’t work in the 2011 film has now entered hyperbolic stages in Rebel Moon, exposing utter kitsch before our eyes. The entire mythology defending this project as Snyder’s dream born out of Star Wars fascination doesn’t hold up. I’ll say this – if Dune and Star Wars were made with meticulously chosen herbs, Rebel Moon is just the dregs from that tea. There’s no warmth to be found here.

rebel moon

Meanwhile, the Rebel Moon dyptych, likely soon to become a trilogy judging from hints dropped in the finale, is a profoundly paradoxical creation. It strongly evokes traditions of B-movie cinema. There are elements that might appeal individually, but overall, they’re combined into a vastly inappropriate and underdeveloped whole. Yet what does it matter that Sofia Boutella can’t act, lacks charisma, if she seems to be one of those heroines who, instead of advocating feminism, simply does her thing, believing in her agency. What difference does it make that the festivities scene looks odd if, at the same time… it’s something unusual, atmospheric, something that sci-fi cinema has never used in such a combination before. The feudal theme is clearly a cliché, but in this costume, it seems to be the most interesting aspect of the film.

What I want to say is what I felt with the first Rebel Moon. Being fair, it’s a bad movie and there’s no other way to put it. But it’s also a movie that doesn’t offend me in any way. Referring again to the dubious title – it is a movie that indeed wounds, but those wounds… don’t hurt.

It seems beyond doubt that Rebel Moon is nothing more than a guilty pleasure film. We know it’s bad, but we still derive an indescribable satisfaction from watching it. I feel the same way and don’t hide it. Perhaps Snyder, unconsciously and somewhat accidentally, instead of a majestic spectacle rivaling Star Wars, created obvious leftovers from it that still fit into the same category of good, like a plain buttered sandwich. There are no added layers that we usually choose so carefully and that elongate the digestion process, yet this doesn’t change the fact that it has something we need at the moment of preparation – energy.

Jakub Piwoński

Jakub Piwoński

Cultural expert, passionate about popular culture, in particular films, series, computer games and comics. He likes to fly away to unknown, fantastic regions, thanks to his fascination with science fiction. Professionally, however, he looks back more often, thanks to his work as a museum promotion specialist, investigating the mysteries of the beginnings of cinematography. His favorite film is "The Matrix", because it combines two areas close to his heart - religion and martial arts.

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