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Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver

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In Theaters


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Paul Asay

Movie Review

Kora always liked Veldt. After she fell out of favor with the galactic empire (no, not that one—this one’s called the Imperium), she fled and found a home on the planet.

But she knew it wouldn’t last. It couldn’t.

As we learned in the first installment of Rebel Moon (technically titled Rebel Moon—Part One: A Child of Fire), the Imperium has a way of alienating planets under its, ahem, care. So when a sadistic admiral, Atticus Noble, ordered Veldt to give the Imperium a whole bunch of grain, and when his soldiers tried to rape a Veldtian woman, Kora couldn’t just stand around. She fought back and—during the course of a 134-minute-long Netflix saga—formed a supergroup of Imperium rebels and killed Atticus Noble. A good movie’s worth of work, that.

But hold the intergalactic phone there, pardner! Atticus proved to be only mostly dead. And if we’ve learned anything from The Princess Bride, that’s not nearly dead enough. After a nice long magic bath, Atticus revived. And now he’s out to gather up his long overdue grain from Veldt and kill its most problematic citizen—who just happens to be the most wanted person in the entire galaxy!

Yep, turns out that Kora was once Arthelais, a fearsome Imperium warrior and adopted daughter of the Imperium’s current and ever-so-evil ruler, Balisarius. For several reasons (let’s not get too spoilery yet), she’s the Imperium’s most loathed traitor. And Atticus—fresh from cheating his bout with death—means to put his career back on track by bringing Kora in, dead or alive. But hopefully dead.

But Kora still has that rebel supergroup with her: General Titus, a legendary commander; Nemesis, a giga-lethal cyborg warrior; Tarak, a one-time prince ready for revenge; and Millius, who … also knows how to fight. They hope that with a little strategy, a little muscle and a lot of luck, they might be able to talk Atticus into just taking the grain and leaving Veldt be. And if not, they hope to give the Imperium a big black eye.

And now it’s time to put the Rebel in Rebel Moon.

Positive Elements

The resistance on Veldt serves as something of a redemption story for each of the band’s rebels. Each of them carries a heavy load of guilt, shame and anger—burdens that have damaged all of them. But their work on Veldt proves to be a time of healing for them all. And even though they each acknowledge that they could be dead about a half-hour after Atticus’ fearsome doomsday ship arrives, they’d at least die a little happier, a little more free.

In the last movie, for instance, Titus was awash in drink as well as living on the streets. But now he’s traded in the booze for water, suggesting that he’s found new purpose. Nemesis, who became a death-dealing warrior after losing a child, is drawn to another kid on Veldt—one who can even sometimes coax a teeny smile from her. Tarak announces that his only real wish is to die fighting the Imperium. But he ultimately thinks better of it, saying he’d rather survive. Even Jimmy—a one-time Imperium robot who’s been spinning his spare parts on Veldt for ever so long—discovers a new sense of purpose.

Naturally, they all have Kora to thank for these personal transformations. In the last movie, she picked them up, dusted them off and helped instill a common purpose.

But Kora’s dealing with guilt, too. And if she gets her adopted home of Veldt destroyed, she’s going to feel really bad. She shows a willingness to sacrifice herself to the Imperium in order to save everyone and everything else—and, of course, everyone else on Veldt is willing to risk their own lives to protect the moon’s way of life. So yeah, a lot of heroism wriggles in here.

Spiritual Elements

When Adm. Noble is revived from death (or something close to it), his second-in-command says, “Thank all the gods that our prayers have been answered!”

[Spoiler Warning] During the first Rebel Moon movie, we learn that Kora’s primary job in her former life was to protect the Imperium’s young princess, Issa—a girl who also boasted magical healing powers. In The Scargiver, we see how Kora betrayed that sacred duty. Ordered by Balisarius to kill the girl, she points the gun and fires—but not before Issa says, “I forgive you.” The scene will obviously remind many Christians of Jesus’ own last words on the cross (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”) And that Christ-like metaphor is drawn even more closely when we learn, toward the end of the movie, that Issa isn’t dead after all. (“You thought she could be killed so easily?” Kora is told. “No, she’s more than that.”)

Sexual Content

Kora’s rebel supergroup contains one more character we’ve not mentioned just yet: Gunnar, a leader from Veldt who joined Kora on her adventures. He and Kora strike up and consummate a romantic relationship in The Scargiver. We see the two of them unclothed in bed together (though most of their skin is covered with animal pelts and the like) and talking. They kiss occasionally, too.

Another Veldtian couple smooches. We see some shirtless guys, and one female warrior wears a vest without an undershirt. Her vest covers everything critical, but her shirt feels a bit revealing. Veldtians dance together during a celebration.

A comatose Atticus revives in a vat of healing agent. He’s apparently naked (we see part of his chest), but most of his body is encased in a web-like substance.

Violent Content

The Scargiver is, essentially, a PG-13 war movie. That means that while you can expect plenty of frenetic violence and a high body count, actual blood onscreen is fairly minimal.

Laser guns are the weapons of choice for most. We see scores of people fall to their blasts (sometimes paired with a sizzling, instantly cauterizing entry wound). These guns come in all sorts of sizes: Some feel fairly surgical; but a few of them function as futuristic bazookas. (One target completely vanishes after being hit with one such charge.) The Imperium also employs the Rebel Moon equivalent of tanks, which inflict huge amounts of damage on both people and structures. And shortly after Atticus revives, he shoots an alien attending to him in the face. (It’s one of the movie’s messiest scenes.)

But keep in mind, director Zack Snyder originally wanted Rebel Moon to be similar to the Star Wars saga. And as such, the most lethal fighters here utilize types of energy swords. Most look more like katanas than lightsabers; we see them hack and slash and stab. Even picking one up can, apparently, burn.

Nemesis uses a different sort of blade that can inflict some wicked damage on opponents. We see, occasionally, people get run through by such energy weapons, and someone apparently has his head cut off just off camera. Someone cuts off her own arms as well (though the actual amputations also take place offscreen).

More traditional-looking hatchets and knives are also used in combat—the former bloodlessly slamming into combatants’ bodies, the latter apparently used to cut open the occasional throat. And a man hits a woman repeatedly in the face. Someone breaks someone else’s neck. Another person gets stabbed there.

Explosions are frequent and deadly. In one such series of blasts, we can actually see bodies being flung up into the air. Aircraft engage in dogfights, leading to more fatalities. Buildings and spaceships blow up. Someone falls from a flying ship, and we see him land on the ground far below. (Other people fall from some significant heights, as well.)

Atticus, as you might expect, shows no hesitation in killing his own troops to get what he wants. (“A few less mouths to feed,” he says.) Some medical personnel are slaughtered by the people they’re trying to help. A child is held up by his throat.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear one out-of-the-blue use of an f-word. But otherwise, language is surprisingly restrained: There’s another s-word in the mix, along with one or two uses each of “b–tard,” “d–n” and “h—.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Titus arrives on Veldt with a pretty pronounced drinking habit—constantly taking swigs from his ever-present flask. But somewhere along the line, he starts filling the flask with water, curiously trying to hide his sobriety from others. (When Atticus takes stock of Veldt’s preparations, he’s impressed, and he quips that Titus’ wits haven’t been completely worn away by alcohol.)

Alcoholic drinks are presumably served during an evening celebration, and one character totes around a massive flagon.

Other Negative Elements

Atticus’ healing tub—and the fact that his body is perforated by tubes—is a little gross.


I wasn’t thrilled with the original Rebel Moon. I called it a derivative “self-serious slog.” Visually, it was pretty cool. But the weaknesses in the story and its problematic content made it a disappointing watch.

In comparison, Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver is a pleasant surprise.

To be sure, the film still feels very derivative. It especially takes its cues from Akira’ Kurosawa’s classic 1954 film Seven Samurai, wherein the film’s titular warriors band together to save a tiny village from the predations of some local bandits. That theme’s been recycled plenty of times, from The Magnificent Seven to The Three Amigos, and as such The Scargiver doesn’t feel all that original.

But there’s a reason why Seven Samurai has been the subject of so many copycats: The core story is a pretty good one. When you bring together a host of unlikely warriors who, you’d think, would have better things to do, put them in the service of a defenseless community and pit them against an evil, overwhelming enemy? Yeah, I’ll sit and watch that.

The story here feels stronger and less scattered than the table-setting first film. And because we see the redemptive arcs take root in our band of heroes, the moral and inspirational themes are stronger, too. And—to my memory, at least—the content issues, while significant, have been reined in a bit, too. We don’t see quite as many ruthless and messy executions.

None of that makes Rebel Moon—Part Two: The Scargiver a classic film in its own right. But it is an improvement. And for many families, this chapter feels more navigable.

Zack Snyder has said that he plans to make anywhere from four to six films in the Rebel Moon saga. So we know we’ve not seen the last of Veldt’s surviving defenders. But while there’s no way to say where the overall story will go from here, its trajectory, at least, is positive.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.