Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child Of Fire has a lot of promise going for it. Snyder, with all his faults, is a visionary director who has an INCREDIBLY distinct visual style. His movies, whether you love them, or hate them, at least get people talking. Rebel Moon also has some unneeded hype behind it, with reports that Snyder was going for his own Star Wars and even was declined by Lucasfilm to make his own Star Wars film.

Well, in the case of the movie looking and feeling like Star Wars, it really doesn’t. It feels like science fiction, which isn’t just limited to Star Wars. There are plenty of other influences here, like Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven, Battle Beyond The Stars, and even some Warhammer 40K for fans of that game. It never feels like it’s fully ripping off any of those properties, though. Our story also doesn’t follow the full hero’s journey and throws a bit of a wrench in the proceedings.

Rebel Moon stars Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Ed Skrein, Jena Malone, Anthony Hopkins, Cary Elwes, Michiel Huisman, Ray Fisher, Djimon Hounsou, Corey Stoll, Bae Doona, and Cleopatra Coleman. The film was written by Shay Hatten, Kurt Johnstad, and Zack Snyder.

The Basic Story Of Rebel Moon And Performances

REBEL MOON: Sofia Boutella as Kora in Rebel Moon. Cr. Clay Enos/Netflix © 2023

The story of Rebel Moon will feel familiar to science fiction fans. It’s about a former soldier, Kora (Boutella), who has settled down with a farming community away from the war and violence of the Motherworld. That peace and tranquility is upended when a warship comes with a vicious Admiral (Skrein). The community is taken over by soldiers and forced to work harvesting grain for the war effort. Kora goes off to find warriors to help fight off the invading force and save the community. Along the way, she meets various characters that help along the way.

Sofia Boutella is pretty damn badass as Kora, channeling that classic heroine archetype with some smashing action scenes. She’s a sympathetic hero that you really feel for as an audience member. Kora isn’t trying to be Luke Skywalker or Ellen Ripley; she’s her own character. Ed Skrein is relishing his time as Admiral Atticus Noble, chewing up scenery, and just being deliciously evil. He’s simply out for power and only power. It’s nice to see a villain that is completely unredeemable and that you can just root against the entire time.

As for the other characters that get picked up along the way, they get less to work with. Kai (Hunnam), Gunnar (Huisman), Nemesis (Doona), Tarak (Staz Nair), and the Bloodaxe siblings (Fisher and Coleman) are all fine characters, but they feel like they’re just there to be cool and sell action figures as opposed to actual characters. Djimon Hounsou’s General Titus is the only one of the group that has some motivation, and in his short time in the movie, he steals the show.

Now For The Bad: Slow Motion, Scenes That Go On, Dialogue That’s Hard To Hear, And Awkward Endings

REBEL MOON: Ed Skrein as Atticus Noble in Rebel Moon. Cr. Justin Lubin/Netflix © 2023

Did every action scene need slow motion?

I know that it’s a hallmark of Zack Snyder’s filmmaking. It works in certain scenes in the film, particularly in the third act. There are some stunning looking scenes with the technique. But every action scene in the film has slow motion. Every single one. It ruins the pace of most of the fights and scenes, particularly when Kora first shows off her skills in combat. At a certain point, watching the film, it just took me out of the experience, because it was getting ridiculous.

The other thing about Rebel Moon is that the film seems to go on for a bit longer than necessary. Scenes drag on for a minute or two longer than they need to. It affects the pacing of the film and just makes it feel longer than it is. The other thing is that this being a part one, there obviously has to be a place to stop. However, the film starts and stops in its final moments, enough so, that you think that one scene is the ending, only for the film to keep going. It’s jarring and while it does set up a sequel, the ending for the heroes feels like a hollow victory.

It doesn’t help that the dialogue in the film is at points inaudible because of the sound mix. I’m not sure what the recent development in filmmaking is that makes it so people can’t just crank up the dialogue volume, but here, key moments of exposition are completely missed because the characters are inaudible. One explanation of why the Realm doesn’t just come and destroy them is explained, but the audience can’t hear it.

Is Rebel Moon Good?!

REBEL MOON: (L-R) Sofia Boutella as Kora and Djimon Hounsou as Titus in Rebel Moon. Cr. Clay Enos/Netflix © 2023

That really depends on how much slow-motion and hard-to-hear dialogue you can take. Rebel Moon has a lot going for it. The movie is beautiful to look at, the performances are solid, and the action is excellent. However, those negatives, especially with pacing, weigh the film down. There was a movie here that could have been magnificent like some of Snyder’s other films, but this one ends up as good, not great.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child Of Fire releases on Netflix on December 21st.

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