Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver, review: more boggle-eyed claptrap from Zack Snyder’s Star Wars rip-off

Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver
Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver - Clay Enos

The first part of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon came out four months ago, but trying to call its plot to mind this week felt like dimly remembering something glimpsed on a fish and chip shop television at some point during (say) Gordon Brown’s premiership. There was a village of space vikings, wasn’t there? And some sort of evil army led by a Karl Lagerfeld model? And an oiled-up Conan the Barbarian type who was best friends with a hippogriff?

Then it clicked. This was the film which – by design or otherwise – was ultimately just off-brand Star Wars: a young farm girl of secret royal lineage takes down a totalitarian empire, via a trip to a raucous cantina, a friendship with a roguish smuggler, some light-saber-swishing, and an encounter with a diplomat with a face like a squid. The problem back in December last year was that Rebel Moon felt like nothing you hadn’t seen before: now, it’s that it’s hard to recall if you saw it in the first place.

To theoretically ease us back in, Anthony Hopkins’s feral robot Jimmy – really! – recaps the story so far, though casual viewers might have preferred something crisper, with less onerous booming about the Floating Ruins of Gondival and the Coliseum of Pollux. After that, a series of flashbacks provide narrative roughage.

Most reintroduce our heroes – Sofia Boutella’s Kora, Djimon Hounsou’s Titus, Michiel Huisman’s Gunnar, and so on – but another shows the king (Cary Elwes) being assassinated, Julius Caesar-style, by a group of knife-wielding conspirators. (I wish I could say I didn’t have to stifle a chuckle when halfway through the scene we discover this murder’s doomy musical accompaniment is being performed live in the room by a string quartet.) Then it’s on with the climatic battle, the preparations for and execution of which take up the remainder of the film, save for a picturesque 10-minute interlude in which the villagers harvest some wheat.

To damn this thing with the faintest praise imaginable, put it this way: had Rebel Moon – Part 1 not been so fantastically empty and tedious, it’s possible that Rebel Moon – Part 2 might have been quite good. Snyder remains a gifted pulp stylist, and stages the siege itself with brawny élan, while working in some appealingly Warhammer-esque design elements, like walking tanks and splattery ion bazookas. (Only in a Zack Snyder film would you find a spaceship whose engine room contains muscly men shovelling coal into a furnace.)

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver
Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver - Clay Enos

But nothing here or in the previous instalment will make you give the slightest fig who wins. Yes, the world of Rebel Moon is richly imagined, even if its origins as an aborted Star Wars project still remain far too obvious. In place of storytelling, though, it’s built on unwieldy lore dumps: we’re given hundreds of details about this galaxy far far away, but no reasons to care about any of them.

There is something baldly impressive about Snyder hauling an unbranded fantasy up from the dust: it’s just a shame it turned out to be such boggle-eyed claptrap. Gondival’s floating ruins are neither here nor there, but Coliseum of Pollux is about the size of it.

12A cert, 122 min. On Netflix from Friday April 19