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Rebel Moon: A Child of Fire Movie Review

Rebel Moon: A Child of Fire [Part One] (2023)

Watch Rebel Moon on Netflix
Written by: Zack Snyder & Kurt Johnstad & Shay Hatten (screenplay by), Zack Snyder (story by)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein, Michiel Huisman, Bae Doona, Ray Fisher, Charlie Hunnam, Anthony Hopkins (voice), Cary Elwes, Jena Malone, Corey Stoll
Rated: PG-13
Watch the trailer

When a peaceful settlement on the edge of a distant moon finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force, a mysterious stranger living among its villagers becomes their best hope for survival.

I like the idea of this, even if it feels like we’ve seen it before,
but this movie is too interested in getting to the next action scene
instead of building the story. This is derivative of so many other movies, and the other movies do it better. I want to like it, but there’s just not enough here. The movie continually tries to be cool without trying to create the foundation for it.
Skip it.

This is the first of two movies. Part 2 is scheduled for April 19, 2024. Snyder has always been a very visual director. His best movies are the ones he’s adapted from an existing work like Watchmen and 300. His last movie, Army of the Dead, was entertaining enough but the story was weak. Due to Snyder’s past work and being a big sci-fi fan, I was going to watch this no matter what.

The setup is pretty standard. A big army from the generically named Motherworld is taking over all the other planets. There’s not a real reason other than they can and it provides the basis for the plot. They seemingly meet no resistance until they encounter a peaceful farming community. 

Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) rolls into the village with his big army and demands the village feed them. He calls it a partnership, but the audience knows better. It doesn’t help that Skrein always seems to play the villain. Noble’s space marines are needlessly cruel. It was already clear they’re bad, but this movie wants to reinforce they are mean and unhinged. There’s only one private in the detail that isn’t terrible, but I have to wonder how he ended up there. With how bad the other soldiers are, I imagine they would have thrown him out of an air lock by now.

Charlie Hunnam, Michiel Huisman, Sophia Boutella play Kai, Gunnar, Kora

This movie’s plot is so telegraphed. The cruel marine set up a moment for simple farmer Kora (Sofia Boutella) to set them straight and reveal she’s a fighter. She had mentioned she’s a child of war, but we soon see she’s a trained killer. The movie is clumsy with the plot, but this action sequence is neat even if there is a bit too much slow motion, a Zack Snyder favorite.

It turns out Kora was a soldier for the Motherworld. As the movie progresses we discover just how highly ranked she was in that army. She has a connection to all of the big players of the Motherworld. She might be the most well connected of anyone, yet she gave it all up. I wonder how she ended up on this planet. How she is now is a stark contrast to how the Motherworld soldiers seem.

Kora plans to fight the Motherworld and defend the village despite how ridiculously outnumbered they are. We get a sci-fi tavern scene reminiscent of Star Wars where she and Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) plan to recruit warriors. Kora kicks butt and takes names to get the attention of a mercenary.

Ed Skrein plays Admiral Atticus Noble

There’s a lot of spectacle, which is to be expected in a Snyder movie. Every person they recruit requires a fight scene. I wasn’t sure if I missed why people join their cause. I get Tarak (Staz Nair) because they freed him from enslavement, but what about Kai (Charlie Hunnam) or Nemesis (Doona Bae)? There’s no reason for these warriors to help them. Promising them payment they don’t have would be a great plot point to create tension and provide a reason, but then it would be exactly like Seven Samurai.

The main plot seems a lot like Seven Samurai or the later movie it inspired The Magnificent Seven where a village recruits warriors to defend them again bandits. Rebel Moon just makes it so much bigger and unbelievable. So much of this movie feels like it’s pulling bits and pieces from other movies. It’s a B movie story with a big budget. The plot unfolds because it has to. If you start questioning why, you get a lot of holes. It’s clumsy. So much of this movie feels like it happens because the writer(s) thought this would be really cool.

While this is only half of the story, the plot thus far doesn’t give me much hope. I will of course watch part two, but it has a lot of work to do.


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