Zack Snyder's 'Rebel Moon' is back in 'Part 2': What kind of mark will 'Scargiver' leave?

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It was only in December that Netflix's "Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire" ushered in producer/director/creator Zack Snyder's brash new sci-fi universe to great fanfare, a (limited) theatrical release and giddy talk of expansion.

Just four months later, "Rebel Moon − Part Two: The Scargiver" premieres on Netflix to noticeably less pomp, but all the special-effects pop. The two movies were shot back-to-back in 152 days on a total budget of $166 million.

"The movies were written as a single story, our script was over 220 pages," says Snyder, who split the story, originally conceived as a "Star Wars" project, in half Solomon-like after bringing the saga to PG-13-friendly Netflix.

Here's what happening with the "Rebel Moon" universe and "Part Two: The Scargiver," premiering Friday (3 a.m. EDT/midnight PDT) on Netflix.

Kora (Sofia Boutella) gives "Rebel Moon − Part Two: The Scargiver" a blast. But there hasn't been as much noise around the second part of Zack Snyder's sci-fi universe.
Kora (Sofia Boutella) gives "Rebel Moon − Part Two: The Scargiver" a blast. But there hasn't been as much noise around the second part of Zack Snyder's sci-fi universe.

What happened in 'Child of Fire' the first 'Rebel Moon' movie?

Former Imperium soldier Kora (Sofia Boutella) pulled together an unlikely team of rebels including General Titus (Djimon Hounsou), Nemesis (Bae Doona), Tarak (Staz Nair) and Darrian Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher). The crew overcame the usual impossible odds and even betrayal by mercenary pilot Kai (Charlie Hunnam) to deliver a major blow against the oppressive regime ruled by Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee).

In the ultimate showdown, Kora stabbed deliciously evil Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein), crushed his head and knocked him 2,000 feet, falling to certain death. Kai also earned the death the traitor deserved, removing the biggest Hollywood star from the cast lineup.

The first "Rebel Moon" featured (from left) Staz Nair as Tarak, Sofia Boutella as Kora, Charlie Hunnam as Kai and Michiel Huisman as Gunnar.
The first "Rebel Moon" featured (from left) Staz Nair as Tarak, Sofia Boutella as Kora, Charlie Hunnam as Kai and Michiel Huisman as Gunnar.

Critics panned 'Rebel Moon,' but how did 'A Child of Fire' perform on Netflix?

Critics revolted against the first "Rebel Moon," which earned a dismal 21% fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (with a surprisingly low 57% audience score). Snyder dismisses the naysayers: "If people watch the movie, it doesn't matter what the critics say. It is what it is."

Gauging streaming movie successes, or flops, without traditional box-office metrics is a brave new world that's open to interpretation. But people did watch. Netflix cited 77.9 million views of "Rebel Moon," which debuted as the streaming service's No. 1 movie and remained in Netflix's global top 10 for four weeks.

During a recent "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast interview, Snyder improbably compared the numbers for "Rebel Moon" to the $1.4 billion "Barbie" theater haul.

"Those metrics don't hold water," says Ryan Scott, a SlashFilm.com box-office analyst. "And while it cracked the Netflix top 10, 'Rebel Moon' still ranked behind movies with titles you had to Google. It just wasn't nearly as big as Netflix wanted it to be."

He's back and looking for revenge. Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) in "Rebel Moon − Part Two: The Scargiver."
He's back and looking for revenge. Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) in "Rebel Moon − Part Two: The Scargiver."

What happens in 'Rebel Moon 2'? Lots of fast action scenes and slow-motion wheat harvesting

The action picks up right after the rebel victory. Noble somehow survives and is hellbent on revenge, urging his Imperium ship to Kora's peaceful adopted farming planet of Veldt.

There are five days before Noble's arrival. That's enough time for Kora and farmer rebel Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) to heat up their simmering love and for the warriors to train the farmers for war − all while harvesting wheat fields for the Imperium.

There are lingering shots, often in slow motion, of warriors like Hounsou's General Titus working the scythe in real northern California wheat fields. Snyder oversaw the 10 acres of wheat grown specifically for "Rebel Moon" and gets his money's worth in "Scargiver."

The farming and peace are cut short when Noble's ship arrives to bring another super-epic, supremely loud battle.

Critics' thoughts on the second film are not yet available: Reviews are embargoed until one minute before Friday's "Scargiver" release. Early reaction on social media has been mixed, with Gizmodo's Germain Lussier calling it "better than Part I."

What's up with that third 'Rebel Moon' film?

Snyder, known for his superhero movie director's cuts, plans to release R-rated versions of "Child of Fire" and "Scargiver." Snyder says he's completed the "adult, hard-R" versions, but is waiting for Netflix to set the streaming dates.

Snyder told USA TODAY last year that he'd be "comfortable" with six films in the 'Rebel Moon' franchise. However, Netflix has not greenlit a third movie, and the streaming giant has changed movie leadership. Dan Lin arrived as the new film chief on April 1.

"It seems tough to see a continuation of this franchise with these numbers and in this Hollywood environment," says Scott.

Sean O'Connell, managing editor at CinemaBlend and author of "Release the Synder Cut: The Crazy True Story Behind the Fight That Saved Zack Snyder's Justice League," says it will be a challenge for Snyder to make additional "Rebel Moon" films.

"But I've learned not to bet against Zack Snyder," says O'Connell. "Zack and his fans can make the impossible happen."

For his part, Snyder is "ready to go as far as I'm concerned" with the third movie already planned out.

"I'm excited to make some more movies," he says. "We're just waiting to see what everyone feels like in terms of what's next."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Rebel Moon 2' returns to Netflix: What to expect from 'The Scargiver'