‘Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver’ falls short

“Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver” PG-13 | 122 minutes Director: Zach Synder Writers: Zach Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Shay Hatten Stars: Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounson, Ed Skrein

This Netflix sci-fi saga delivers an abundance of explosive action and slow-motion sequences, but ultimately lacks cohesion and emotional depth.

By David Rowley | Special to the Times Vedette

Zack Snyder’s latest foray into the realm of epic sci-fi, “Rebel Moon,” is a grand spectacle of ambition and visual prowess, yet it struggles to break free from its own limitations. Boasting a star-studded cast including Sofia Boutella, Ed Skrein and Djimon Hounsou, the film presents a tale of rebellion, unbreakable bonds and the emergence of heroes in the face of impending doom. However, despite its admirable aspirations, “Rebel Moon” falls short in delivering a truly captivating narrative experience.

Known for his boundless enthusiasm and penchant for pushing the boundaries of cinematic storytelling, Snyder once again demonstrates his commitment to innovation. Yet, as is often the case with his works, “Rebel Moon” elicits mixed reactions, leaving audiences either enamored or disenchanted with its offerings — like going to a great restaurant only to find out they’ve changed the menu because they couldn’t get ingredients they needed.

The film is at its most engaging with its visual construction, with Snyder orchestrating the grandeur of intergalactic warfare on screen. From sweeping battle sequences to stunning CGI landscapes, “Rebel Moon” is a testament to Snyder’s ability to make truly exciting movie trailer b-roll. The man has skills with slow-mo, and his overuse of the technique guarantees a few great scenes. However, for all its visual splendor, the film struggles to engage on a deeper level, failing to establish meaningful connections with its characters or offer anything of a compelling narrative arc.

The film attempts to blend elements of “Star Wars” and “Seven Samurai” but falls short in crafting compelling characters and a coherent narrative. Despite efforts to introduce new aliens and expand the universe, the story feels derivative and overstretched. While the ensemble cast is remarkable in their star-power, “Rebel Moon” is unable to evoke genuine empathy for its characters. Despite the valiant efforts of the cast, the film’s ensemble feels underdeveloped and lacking in emotional depth. As a result, it becomes increasingly challenging for audiences to invest themselves fully in the fate of these characters, leading to a sense of detachment that persists throughout the film.

While the introduction of new heroes and the expansion of the story’s mythology are commendable efforts, they ultimately fall short of revitalizing a plot that feels stuck in a perpetual cycle of “The Chris Farley Show” from “SNL.”

As the film progresses, it becomes evident that Snyder’s reliance on slow-motion sequences serves as a crutch rather than a stylistic flourish, further exacerbating the sense of stagnation that permeates the story.

In its attempt to set up future installments, the film sacrifices depth for spectacle, leaving audiences with more questions than answers. Despite its potential, “Rebel Moon: Part 2 – The Scargiver” falls short, offering flashy visuals but little substance. Despite a talented cast and ambitious worldbuilding, the film fails to deliver a compelling narrative or memorable characters. While it may appeal to fans of Snyder’s style, it ultimately feels like a missed opportunity to create something truly remarkable.

Given how popular the first film was (according to Snyder and Netflix, anyway), we’ll likely see more “Rebel Moon” down the line. Snyder previously said he’d like to do a six-hour director’s cut of both films, and he recently told Radio Times he would like to stretch the “Rebel Moon” series out to four or six films. Somehow, that just feels like a threat. 

Find fleeting beauties of spring with the DNR weekly bloom report

From the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Wildflowers are enticing treasures for wilderness lovers each year. One of the most encouraging signs of spring, the first wildflowers seem to bloom overnight.

Discover the renewal of spring in the colors of the flowers with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) weekly woodland wildflower bloom report.

Early spring wildflowers are commonly called ephemerals, which means “short-lived.” Their dazzling show of spring color is only a limited engagement, so take time to see the flowers before they are gone.

Visit the Woodland Wildflower Report webpage (https://iowadnr.gov/wildflowers) for an up-to-date list of wildflowers in bloom each week until mid-May. You can sign up to receive weekly wildflower bloom reports in your inbox.

‘Drive-Away Dolls’ is a rollicking ride filled with unexpected twists and turns

“Drive-Away Dolls”R | 84 minutes Director: Ethan Coen Writers: Ethan Coen, Tricia Cooke Stars: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein

Ethan Coen’s trademark wit shines through in the film’s dialogue.

By David Rowley | Times Vedette

Ethan Coen, known famously as one half of the Coen Brothers, ventures into solo territory with “Drive-Away Dolls,” a raucous and unpredictable road-trip comedy that brims with eccentricity and audacious humor. Despite Ethan’s previous collaborations with his brother Joel yielding some of cinema’s most memorable characters and scenes, “Drive-Away Dolls” proves that his solo efforts are not to be underestimated. While some may argue that the Coen Brothers’ combined creative energies produce a unique spark, Ethan demonstrates here that he’s more than capable of crafting a compelling narrative on his own. 

“Drive-Away Dolls” showcases his distinct storytelling prowess, offering a rollicking ride filled with unexpected twists and turns. The film’s plot unfolds with a frenetic energy, propelled by its eccentric characters and offbeat humor.

The flick follows the escapades of Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Jamie (Margaret Qualley), two friends embarking on a spontaneous post-breakup getaway to Tallahassee, Florida. What begins as a simple road trip quickly spirals into chaos when the two discover a peculiar briefcase in their rented car. This premise sets the stage for a series of increasingly bizarre and absurd encounters, as Marian and Jamie find themselves entangled in a web of criminal activity and unexpected romance. 

One of the standout aspects of “Drive-Away Dolls” is its unapologetic embrace of off-kilter humor and unconventional storytelling. Ethan Coen’s trademark wit shines through in the film’s dialogue, which crackles with sharpness and irreverence. From witty one-liners (“Won’t anybody save Curlie?”) to absurd situations (too many to list), the humor is consistently engaging, keeping audiences entertained throughout. 

The cast delivers spirited performances, with Viswanathan and Qualley showcasing excellent chemistry as the mismatched duo at the film’s center. Viswanathan’s portrayal of the uptight Marian contrasts beautifully with Qualley’s free-spirited Jamie. Their dynamic serves as the anchor amid the film’s chaotic narrative, grounding the proceedings with a sense of emotional depth and authenticity, creating a dynamic relationship that evolves organically over the course of the film. Additionally, supporting players like Beanie Feldstein, Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal inject further energy into the ensemble, each bringing their own brand of eccentricity to the table.

Visually, “Drive-Away Dolls” exudes a playful yet deliberately kitschy aesthetic, characterized by cheesy transitions and psychedelic interludes. These stylistic choices contribute to the film’s offbeat charm, enhancing its irreverent tone and adding to the overall sense of whimsy. 

While some may find these visual quirks jarring at first, they ultimately serve to enhance the film’s comedic sensibilities, especially when you finally understand what is happening. 

However, “Drive-Away Dolls” is not without its flaws. The film’s narrative occasionally feels disjointed, struggling to maintain cohesion as it veers between disparate genres and plotlines. While this approach may be intentional to mirror the chaotic nature of the characters’ journey or showcasing the limits of a B-movie budget, it can also result in moments of confusion or frustration for the audience. Additionally, while the inclusion of sexual humor and inclusive themes adds a layer of edginess to the proceedings, it also runs the risk of overshadowing other aspects of the film’s storytelling. As a result, “Drive-Away Dolls” occasionally feels tonally uneven with certain elements overpowering others.

Despite these shortcomings, “Drive-Away Dolls” remains an entertaining and refreshingly unconventional addition to Ethan Coen’s filmography. By embracing the trashy and absurd, Coen and co-writer Tricia Cooke craft a comedic romp that revels in its own eccentricity. While it may not reach the lofty heights of the Coen Brothers’ best works, “Drive-Away Dolls” offers a rollicking good time for those willing to embrace its irreverent spirit. With its zany humor, eclectic cast and unapologetically bizarre plot, the film stands as a delightful diversion from the ordinary. While it may not be to everyone’s tastes, those with a penchant for the offbeat are sure to find plenty to enjoy in this wild and unpredictable ride.