Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver: An adamantly unoriginal space opera

Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver: An adamantly unoriginal space opera

Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver is a tedious retread of an original film that was itself not all that original, to begin with
An adamantly unoriginal space opera(1.5 / 5)

Perhaps no other filmmaker understands ‘cool’ like Zack Snyder does. He understands the essence of what makes a scene look visually resplendent. However, you can’t smell a plastic flower no matter how pretty it looks. The filmmaker knows how to make a scene look rich, and he knows how to extract compelling performances from his actors but the dialogues and storytelling tells us that he spends little to no time fleshing out the emotional core of his story. Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver could have been an amazing parody of the space opera genre; if it was only self-aware and had a sense of humour. With how straightforward the film is, we almost anticipate it to surprise us at any moment, but that never happens. What we get instead is a story that feels like something Snyder made up on the spot, on the day of filming, so he can make a cohesive whole of the multiple action scenes he had planned to shoot.

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Staz Nair, Michiel Huisman, Bae Doona

Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver opens with a voice-over narration by Anthony Hopkins, who sums up the events of the original film. Packed to the brim with made-up sci-fi words, the exposition dump of a narration is laughably bad. Rebel Moon Part One: A Child of Fire was heavily criticised for being unoriginal. Perhaps the sequel won’t have the problems the first one had, or so we thought. But what we get is a two-hour-long Deja Vu. Even the antagonist from the first film—who is shown dying after a long and tedious battle scene—comes back somehow. The setting is the same, so is the plot, and so are the motivations. The characters look slightly different but they don’t seem all that changed by the experiences in the first film. Sofia Boutella’s Kora gets a new haircut and Jimmy the robot, voiced by Anthony Hopkins, is adorned with a flamboyant headgear fashioned out of space-reindeer horns. Even the character evolution remains visual.

Cinema is a visual medium after all but Snyder is not just religiously adhering to the ‘show don’t tell’ maxim, he is a fundamentalist believer in visual storytelling who refuses to understand the underlying intricacies of his religion and has thoughtlessly surrendered himself to this cinematic style. The quintessential scene of the film, which perfectly surmises its biggest shortcomings, is the one towards the middle where the rebels sit around a table and share stories from their past. Designed to serve as a montage of flashbacks, the scene has actors delivering earnest performances. However, the way the scene was staged, along with the corporate-meeting-like manner in which everyone starts talking one after the other, emotionally disconnects the audience, and even borders on unintentional humour. The one most affected by the emotionally illiterate cinematic language of this film is Djimon Hounsou. Awkwardly placed in between scenes, his emotionally charged performances stick out like a sore thumb. He is so obviously designed to be the leader-who-gives-a-rousing-motivational-speech-before-the-battle. Hounsou’s character design is caricaturish to the extent that whenever you see him drawing a deep breath, you know a speech is coming.

Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver is a tedious retread of an original film that was itself not all that original, to begin with. If only the gorgeous visuals and the brilliant production design had a strong story to back them up, we might have had a memorable, compelling, cinematic experience, basically the exact opposite of whatever we ended up with.

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