‘Rebel Moon 2’ Review: A 2-Hour-Long Trailer For Next Film In Zack Snyder’s Netflix Franchise


Zack Snyder makes what we in India crudely call “massy” films. His movies are big and loud, and they feature beautiful people in all kinds of unrealistic costumes, dynamic slow-motion shots, and visceral action sequences. Most importantly, though, he makes films that feel complete. Yes, he sometimes generated excitement for the upcoming installment in a franchise or made us wonder what happened in the fictional world after the credits started rolling. But they never seemed incomplete. That said, while his collaboration with Netflix sounded promising because of the creative control that came with it, the deal is starting to feel like a grift. Army of the Dead, in addition to looking dreadful, was largely concerned with hinting at the universe that existed beyond the heist. Rebel Moon Part 1 was a 2-hour-long trailer for its sequel. Rebel Moon: Part Two: The Scargiver is a 2-hour-long trailer for the third film in this supposedly six-movie franchise. And, to be honest, that sounds exhausting.

Rebel Moon 1 established the existence of the fascist Empire-esque force called the Motherworld and how its armies visited various planets to steal their resources. If the inhabitants of a planet failed to comply, they simply destroyed it. Kora, a former soldier of the Imperium and a citizen of Veldt, set out to find warriors who could defend her new home from Atticus Noble and his armies. Her team featured Titus, Gunnar, Nemesis, Darrian Bloodaxe, Tarak, Kai, and Millius. Kai betrayed them and died in the process. Darrian sacrificed himself. And Kora seemingly killed Noble. However, it was revealed that he was alive and tasked with bringing Kora to Balisarius. In Rebel Moon 2, the warriors return to Veldt to prepare the villagers for the imminent battle with Noble. The warriors sit around and talk about their sad backstories. And then, the heroes and villains fight with each other for an hour.

The screenplay by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and Shay Hatten is logically sound. There are no plot holes to be found here, or at least there aren’t any that I can see. You can notice the genesis of a plot point or a theme, and you can see it reaching its rational conclusion. But should that be the primary concern of a film? Being logical? Because worrying about whether or not a critic or a CinemaSins-inspired YouTuber can point at a flaw and laugh at it has robbed Rebel Moon 2 of any kind of emotion. Every character is made to spell out why they are doing the things they are doing. However, there’s no sense of relatability or weight to it. Where is the anti-fascist angst? Where is the passion to battle the bleakness of oppression? Where are the ground-level stakes? I’ll admit that it takes a lot of effort to rip off Seven Samurai and create a script that serves as a feeble foundation for endless action sequences, but Snyder, Johnstad, and Hatten have done the impossible. Purists will probably scoff at me for comparing Snyder to Kurosawa, but I think they’re influential in their own ways. It’s just that while the latter managed to maintain his sense of originality till his dying day, the former is starting to become unoriginal.

Is the action any good, though? No, it’s not. I would’ve given Rebel Moon 2 a pass if it used every minute of its hour-long battle sequence in a creative way. But every single set piece feels like a rehearsal, not the final product. I understand the time, effort, blood, and sweat that go into making a fight scene feel organic, and I am sure that the stunt choreographers, stunt doubles, actors, Snyder, and the rest of his team have done the same. However, if there’s a lack of momentum in every single swing of a sword, if I can see the actor anticipating their partner’s next move instead of making it look like a reaction, and if the gun fights have no “oomph” to them, then the whole thing seems like a mish-mash of half-baked ideas. And it’s sad and surprising to see Snyder make bad action scenes in three consecutive films. He has revolutionized superhero fighting. The use of different cameras set at different focal lengths for that now iconic sword battle in 300 was genius. And now, all he can muster are these dull action scenes where people endlessly shoot at each other, and something explodes every two seconds. Also, this brown aesthetic that the cinematographer in Zack Snyder seems to like very much is ugly.

I am a fan of all the movie stars in the cast of Rebel Moon 2. Sofia Boutella has been on my heart and mind since Kingsman: The Secret Service. I have been following Djimon Hounsou’s career since Gladiator. Both Ed Skrein and Michael Huisman have been doing some great work since their appearance (as the same character) in Game of Thrones. Doona Bae has done such impressive work in the South Korean film industry as well as Hollywood. I don’t think I have to say why Anthony Hopkins is awesome. Cary Elwes has been on my radar since Saw. I think that the relatively new faces (new to me) are pretty solid. Staz Nair clearly has the chops to be the next action star. Cleopatra Coleman is fantastic in her own right. Stuart Martin has a great screen presence. The supporting cast is undoubtedly talented. However, Snyder doesn’t show them in the best light. All the performances are so hollow and bereft of soul. I am glad that they got the chance to come together to work for someone like Zack Snyder, and I guess they’ll continue to work with him until their characters die or the franchise ends, but I wish Snyder understood the gold mine he has at his disposal and utilized it properly.

The only scene in Rebel Moon 2 that got a reaction out of me was the live orchestra, Julius Caesar-esque assassination. It was so amazing, macabre, and odd that I felt that the whole film was going to have that vibe. I was evidently wrong, and that saddens me. I want to like his films. I want to support his projects. I know what he has been through on the personal front, and I am glad that he has overcome his difficulties and is still making films. In addition to all that, I am aware of the fact that Zack Snyder has a lot of haters who don’t appreciate the good stuff that he does, and he has a lot of fans who overlook his flaws. And it seems like, in an attempt to silence the haters and appease the fans, he is crafting these projects that are made of logically sound plots and unappealing action scenes. I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t like the direction in which his career is going. I sincerely hope that before he puts pen to paper for his next Rebel Moon or Army of the Dead film, he makes sure that he has something to say through his work, his stories, his characters, and his action. Or else, I’m just going to tune out and watch all the original stuff that he is “paying homage to” (which is a respectable way of saying “ripping off from”).

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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