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‘Rebel Moon’ Review: An Unwarranted Rip-Off

As Zack Snyder’s first step in building a unique franchise of his own, Rebel Moon heads in the complete opposite direction of originality and is instead a conglomerate of many tired sci-fi and fantasy tropes that have already been done, landing it as a rather forgettable action film with next to no substance that feels like it was plucked from a pre-established saga.

'Rebel Moon': An Unwarranted Rip-Off (Review)
Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child Of Fire / Image Courtesy of Netflix

The third installment in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon franchise follows Kora (Sofia Boutella), a mysterious stranger with ties to a tyrannical ruling government, who finds herself protecting helpless farmers on a distant planet by assembling a team of the most skilled warriors in the galaxy. The film is set in the same universe as Snyder’s prior film, Army of the Dead, and its sequel, Army of Thieves, providing a vast contrast between the apocalyptic nature of Army of the Dead and the lore-heavy universe of this film.

I will give Snyder the benefit of the doubt as the idea for the film was initially a scrapped story that was supposed to wind up becoming the basis for Star Wars: Episode VII, so with that knowledge in mind some leniency can be granted for having familiar elements and narrative choices. That does not however excuse it from failing to at least set itself apart from other sci-fi films. 

Almost every major trope and stereotype is played into, from storytelling beats to character arcs. None of the characters seem to have any nuance to their personalities, and through no fault of the cast itself, there’s no chemistry between any of them as the entire supporting cast is just there to act as plot devices for the story to move forward. And because of the fact, this film feels like it’s supposed to be part of a larger story, it’s hard to feel any stakes or sense of anticipation for future installments.

'Rebel Moon': An Unwarranted Rip-Off (Review)
Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child Of Fire / Image Courtesy of Netflix

Surprisingly, the storytelling isn’t the most offensive aspect of the film: it’s the visuals and action that are supposed to make up for the lack of a gripping narrative. Since it became clear that the film couldn’t even achieve that right off the bat, it needed to become reliant on creatively shot sequences and seamless VFX work to keep it afloat, of which Snyder’s flair and knack for innovation in that field shines through, but not in a good way. The green screen usage was absolutely appalling at certain points causing the backgrounds to have zero depth and making it clear where the VFX artists tried to mask and feather the subjects on top of their surroundings

On top of that, any and all tension during action sequences was broken by the overuse of slow motion, further solidifying that this movie should’ve instead been made as a video game (though probably not of any better quality). It seems that in trying to make the film reek of his style, Snyder did nothing but further validate the criticisms of it.

There was one aspect of the film that I found entertaining while watching, which was drawing a connection to every film that Rebel Moon cheaply reskinned. Zack Snyder doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before and instead just tosses elements of better sci-fi/fantasy films and touts it as original work. If there’s any motto that this film proves right, it’s that “every masterpiece has its cheap copy”, and I can guarantee it’s not the former. That as it may be, please go and watch this film for yourself and form your own opinion. 

'Rebel Moon': An Unwarranted Rip-Off (Review)
Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child Of Fire / Image Courtesy of Netflix

Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Sofia Boutella (Kora), Djimon Hounsou (Titus), Ed Skrein (Atticus), Michiel Huisman (Gunnar), Doona Bae (Nemesis), Ray Fisher (Darrian Bloodaxe) and Anthony Hopkins (Jimmy). The film will stream on Netflix on December 22. All images are courtesy of Netflix.

If you liked this review, please be sure to check out some of our other articles and reviews here at Feature First. Thanks for reading! 

Artist by nature, music maker by choice, film enjoyer by force. You can always find Vincent stuck in gridlocked LA traffic.