5 great movies to watch instead of Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver on Netflix, from Star Wars to Justice League

Following the rather lukewarm reception to Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire last December, anticipation is muted for the arrival of its sequel, subtitled The Scargiver, which starts streaming on Netflix on April 19.

Snyder’s science-fiction opus follows a band of rebel soldiers as they attempt to protect a peaceful planet from a violent, militaristic regime, but was met with marked criticism for its derivative execution and general lack of originality.

For audiences who are unwilling to sacrifice any more time on regurgitated genre tropes lacking in-depth, character or creative ingenuity, we suggest these five influential offerings instead.

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1. Seven Samurai (1954)

Snyder has made no secret of the fact that his rambling interstellar saga was originally conceived as “Seven Samurai in space”, back when he was still a film student in the 1980s. Indeed, Rebel Moon echoes many of the narrative beats introduced in Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, but falls well short of its predecessor’s genre-defining scope, majesty or pathos.

Still regarded as one of the greatest action movies ever made 70 years after it was released, Kurosawa’s chambara classic follows a village of desperate peasants, who turn to Takashi Shimura’s ageing warrior to protect them and their crops from a gang of marauding bandits.

The recruitment of six other disgraced and ostracised samurai – including a breakout performance from Toshiro Mifune – who are willing to risk their lives for a shot at redemption, set the standard for every team-building montage to follow.

Toshiro Mifune (second from left) in a still from The Seven Samurai (1954). Photo: AP Photo/Kyodo News

Similarly, Kurosawa’s epic staging, breathless pacing and kinetic editing remain as thrilling as anything committed to screen since.

2. Star Wars (1977)

Before taking Rebel Moon to Netflix, Snyder first pitched the idea to Lucasfilm as a stand-alone Star Wars project, one that would not include any established characters, but would exist within the established universe.

The idea was rejected, perhaps because Rogue One (2016) was already in development, which shares a number of similarities. Nevertheless, the influence of the franchise remains prominent in Snyder’s final product, and no more so than George Lucas’ original film.

Both stories follow young protagonists, who grew up far from the reaches of a giant intergalactic military empire, yet harbour hidden ties to its leadership. Both rise up to lead a rebellion against their oppressors, assembling a motley crew of renegade allies along the way.

(From left) Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in a still from Star Wars (1977).

Like Snyder, Lucas was also influenced by Kurosawa (most notably 1958’s The Hidden Fortress) as well as the writings of American author Joseph Campbell, while few will argue that anything in his decades-long franchise tops this initial offering.

3. Conan the Barbarian (1982)

The 1980s were a wild time for genre cinema. New ground was broken almost daily in horror, science fiction and fantasy, and Snyder was sat in the front row throughout.

Just as Star Wars reinvented the space opera and ushered in a plethora of imitators and emulators that continues to this day, so, too, did John Milius’ blood and thunder adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s muscle-bound hero.

Conan was the perfect role for Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, while the film’s timeless world of sword and sorcery had an immediate effect on audiences.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a still from Conan the Barbarian (1982).

Rebel Moon’s Tarak (Staz Nair), an enslaved nobleman with the body of a wrestler and the ability to communicate with wild animals, is cut from precisely the same cloth as Schwarzenegger’s indomitable Conan, while owing a debt of gratitude also to Marc Singer’s eponymous hero from the Don Coscarelli adventure The Beastmaster, released later the same year.

4. The Host (2006)

One of Rebel Moon’s major draws for Asian audiences was the casting of Bae Doona in the role of vengeful swordswoman Nemesis. The Korean actress has an obvious penchant for science fiction, appearing in Hollywood projects such as Cloud Atlas (2012) and Jupiter Ascending (2015), as well as Korean drama series The Silent Sea and Bong Joon-ho’s 2006 blockbuster The Host.

Not to diminish the actress’ athleticism, which Snyder dutifully showcases in Rebel Moon, but nowhere is her combat aptitude supported by such dramatic gravitas than as embattled archery champion Nam-joo, Bae’s character in The Host.

Suffering from a crippling crisis of confidence that has seen her crash out of the national team ahead of the world championships, Nam-joo must rise to the challenge in markedly different circumstances after her little sister is abducted by a rampaging leviathan that has emerged from the Han River.

Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung in a still from The Host (2006).

Due in large part to the keenly drawn family drama at its heart, The Host emerges as one of cinema’s finest monster movies.

5. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

When Rebel Moon dropped, in December 2023, it was accompanied by the promise that this sanitised, family-friendly edit would be followed by a harder, R-rated version more in keeping with the director’s original vision. A “Snyder Cut”, if you will, that at the time of writing has yet to materialise.

While this feels like a cynically engineered attempt to cash in on the furore that surrounded DC’s 2017 film Justice League, it is worth conceding that Snyder’s darker, brooding take was markedly superior, once the rabid, fan-fuelled campaign eventually convinced Warner Bros to release it.

His sprawling four-hour comic book epic brought a dramatic heft to the material that had been sorely lacking, while elevating its superhuman protagonists to mythic, God-like status.

(From left) Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Ezra Miller as The Flash in a still from Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Photo: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc

It is impossible to say at this moment if Snyder’s extended cuts of Rebel Moon, which reportedly add an hour to each film, will improve what has come before, but the case of Justice League is giving us a modicum of hope.


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