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J.C. Reviews: Rebel Moon – Part Two is a Movie That Exists. Boy, It Sure Does Exist!

by James Coulter

The story goes Zack Snyder approached Lucasfilm to pitch a “gritty” and “more mature” Star Wars movie. When Lucasfilm refused, Zack took his script, filed off the serial numbers, and pitched it to Netflix. The result is Rebel Moon, which is essentially Zack Snyder’s “gritty” and “more mature” Star Wars fan fiction.

Netflix released the first part in December, and if you remember my review of that movie, you know that I consider it one of the most Zack Snyder films ever Zack Snyder. Now that the second part has been released, will it live up to the hype of the first part? (Well, this is a Zack Snyder film, so the answer is obvious!)

In Part One, a young woman sets off in search of warriors to help a farming village defend itself from the evil empire, which demands the villagers offer more food than they can provide. She finds warriors willing to fight, and they band together to defeat the evil general and destroy his main ship.

The story continues in Part Two. The general somehow comes back to life, and he remains dead set on invading the farming village. Now the young woman and her band of warriors must train the villagers and prepare for the battle that will inevitably ensue. Will they succeed and defeat the evil empire? Or die trying.

While Rebel Moon can be called Zack Snyder’s take on Star Wars, the story is more like Seven Samurai or the Magnificent Seven, only with spaceships and laser beams. And that’s the most I can say about the movie. Seriously, what else is there for me to say?

I could talk about the plot, but I already explained it. It’s Magnificent Seven in space—and Magnificent Seven was already Seven Samurai with cowboys! Have you seen either of those two movies? Then you’ve seen Rebel Moon. It follows the same plot points. Warriors come to train small village to defeat bad guys, and they fight the bad guys and win.

I could talk about the characters, but this movie doesn’t have any. It only has generic stock archetypes who essentially serve as action figures with elaborate backstories written on the back of the box, and who only serve for Zack Snyder to slam together and make them fight.

I could talk about the action scenes, but what can I say? They’re generic sci-fi action scenes where the laser guns go “pew-pew”, the explosions go “boom”, and the lightsabers—excuse me, “laser swords”!—light up bright when they clash.

So, what else can I say? Well, perhaps I can share a relevant take concerning Zack Snyder.

Recently, I watched a video essay by Anthony Gramuglia on YouTube. The essay was about Excalibur, the 1981 King Arthur epic by John Boorman. The film was praised for its spectacular visuals but criticized for its shallow storytelling with little to no real substance.

As Anthony Gramuglia explained, Zack Snyder was a huge fan of Excalibur. The movie influenced his own work, since Snyder made films that have been praised for their spectacular visuals but criticized for their shallow storytelling and lack of substance.

Gramuglia touched upon Rebel Moon, which he called “Excalibur in Space” with “emotionally shallow but otherwise visually impressive” action sequences. He criticized the film for being a derivative of various sci-fi properties (which is to be expected when the story was originally a Star Wars script) that proved to be visually spectacular but created nothing original or substantiative.

“Rebel Moon wants to be Star Wars, or a Verhoeven epic, or a Warhammer movie without understanding the underlying substance behind those epics,” Gramuglia explained. “Snyder sees spectacle as substance. Snyder promising more sex and violence in his director cut [or Rebel Moon] rather than movie or plot speaks to what Snyder thinks people want to see.”

Gramuglia continued: “Unlike Excalibur, where we are seeing something we had never seen before, we had a trilogy of Star Wars trilogies. Dune has just come out and it is bigger than ever. We are seeing multiple science fiction films a year, to the point where science fiction is becoming commonplace. To stand out, you need more than spectacle…even if what he is doing is more epic, it is not necessarily more interesting.”

Overall. If you look up “style over substance”, Zack Synder’s mug will be the photo associated with the term. That’s the problem with Rebel Moon, and it’s been the problem with his other movies.

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Staff Reporter

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