Zack Snyder started his career directing a number of music videos, which eventually led to Dawn of the Dead and 300. Those two films put the director on the map, then it was Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League that propelled him to crazed internet levels of fame. Now he’s a mainstay at Netflix, but his latest film, Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire, is nothing more than an empty husk of science fiction.
First off, Hollywood needs to stop cutting up a single movie into multiple parts. While Child of Fire does somewhat stand on its own, it’s clear that this isn’t a full movie, and that has a negative impact on the experience. Secondly, there’s already a planned “director’s cut” that bumps the film from PG-13 to an R rating, and Sndyer himself claims it’s almost like it takes place in a slightly different dimension.
There are a number of scenes in Rebel Moon that were very clearly shot with an R rating in mind. It’s so obvious that it feels odd watching these scenes play out with little to no blood, or hearing about sexual escapades that don’t have much relevance to the existing story. But that’s only the beginning of the problems with Rebel Moon.
The film focuses on a ragtag group of heroes going up against a monstrous power. It’s basically Star Wars with the Rebels going up against the Empire. The problem is that very little is done to establish why the audience should care about virtually anything happening in the film. The conflict begins when a small farming village is overtaken by the Empire, causing Kora (Sofia Boutella) to venture off into space in hopes of finding people who will help fend off the Empire and save the village.
Not enough time is spent with the villagers to really care about what happens to them. In addition, there’s almost no background story for any of the heroes that Kora recruits. Ray Fisher’s Bloodaxe is arguably the most compelling character, but he’s not given enough screen time to make any kind of significant difference.
The character build up is so limited that one member is recruited before the audience knows anything about him other than the fact that he’s working off a debt. Yet the group risks everything to acquire his completely unknown talents based solely on the word of a second equally unknown character.
While you’re supposed to be rooting for this unknown group of heroes to prevail, the slightly over the top villain, Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) is chewing up the scenery. It’s clear that Skrein is having fun with the character, and that causes him to stand out much more than any of the empty heroes fighting against him. It’s much easier to root for him to prevail over the heroes that provide nothing of interest.
With the director’s cut being longer, more in-depth, and rated R, there’s almost no point in wasting time on this initial release of Rebel Moon. The director’s cut may not improve the film, but it’s difficult to imagine it being any worse. The action sequences are decent enough, but they’re oversaturated with slow motion piled on top of more slow motion that will have your eyes rolling.
Unlike Dune: Part One, which offered a deep dive into many of the characters, and gave the audience something to look forward to with the second part, Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire feels like a movie that was cut down to size to fit within a specific box that it was never intended to fit into. The only hope is that the director’s cut version remedy’s many of the issues, but at the very least, it’s unlikely to remove any slow motion that plague the action sequences.
About Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire
Synopsis: 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.
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Shay Hatten
Stars: Sofia Boutella, Djimon Housou, Ed Skrein, Bae Doona, Charlie Hunnam, Ray Fisher
Runtime: 2 Hours, 13 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.