top of page


December 22, 2023 / Netflix

Starring: Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou, Michiel Huisman, Cleopatra Coleman, Jena Malone, Ed Skrein, Corey Stoll, Bae Doona, Anthony Hopkins

Directed By: Zack Snyder

After crash landing on a moon in the furthest reaches of the universe, Kora (Sofia Boutella), a stranger with a mysterious past, begins a new life among a peaceful settlement of farmers. But she soon becomes their only hope for survival when the tyrannical Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) and his cruel emissary, Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein), discover the farmers have unwittingly sold their crops to the Bloodaxes (Cleopatra Coleman and Ray Fisher) — leaders of a fierce group of insurgents hunted by the Motherworld. Tasked with finding fighters who would risk their lives to defend the people of Veldt, Kora and Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), a tenderhearted farmer naive in the realities of war, journey to different worlds in search of the Bloodaxes, and assemble a small band of warriors who share a common need for redemption along the way: Kai (Charlie Hunnam), a pilot and gun for hire; General Titus (Djimon Hounsou), a legendary commander; Nemesis (Doona Bae), a master swordswoman; Tarak (Staz Nair), a captive with a regal past; and Milius (E. Duffy), a resistance fighter. Back on Veldt, Jimmy (voiced by Anthony Hopkins), an ancient mechanized protector hiding in the wings, awakens with a new purpose. But the newly formed revolutionaries must learn to trust each other and fight as one before the armies of the Motherworld come to destroy them all.

Written By Darren

Rating 2 out of 5

Rebel Moon - Part 1: A Child of Fire continues director Zack Snyder’s tenure with Netflix, and while he has assembled a good cast and clearly enjoyed building the world of the film, the abundant misuse of slow motion in his action sequences and a truly disappointing story ends this epic rebellion before it even begins.

Over the years as a filmmaker, Zack Snyder has made a reputation for himself with his signature visual style, larger than life action sequences and enormous vision for every project he takes on. As a director and storyteller, Snyder is unapologetically himself, which has worked incredibly well for him in films like Man of Steel, Watchmen and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but also been his downfall in less enthusiastically received films like Sucker Punch. With his new home at Netflix, Snyder is moving outside of the zombie horror subgenre after Army of the Dead and Army of Thieves, his latest film sees him playing in the world of space opera science fiction. He’s always been at his best while adapting a pre-existing story to the big screen, rather than creating his own original story, which is sadly the downfall with his latest film: Rebel Moon - Part 1: A Child of Fire. You can see the potential that Snyder’s grand vision for this world and film has as it is truly expansive, but it ends up being the least enjoyable of all his films as the story is anything but original, playing out as a mashup of so many great films rolled into a dull screenplay.

From the second Rebel Moon begins, you can tell that the world Snyder is trying to build is enormous. Rebellion, slain royal families, many planets and races of creatures across the galaxy, and military control are all elements of the world that Snyder has envisioned in his latest film. While there is no denying that the creature design and production design creates a visually magnificent world for the story to unfold in, all captured with some great cinematography, there is not the time to develop everything he wants to. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls of Snyder as a filmmaker, as he struggles to create his worlds and tell his story in a traditional two to two and a half hour run time. Though you can visually see the world building he is playing with here, Snyder is forced to choose between the world building and the story he wants to tell due to the constraints of the runtime, in which he elects to focus on the story. With an extended, R rated cut coming soon to Netflix, hopefully Snyder will be better to build his new universe and fully explain it, but that is the least of this film’s problems and won’t vastly improve it as a whole.

The film’s biggest downfall is Snyder’s original story, or lack thereof. Despite not adapting any pre-existing material, the film feels strangely familiar. In fact, it’s largely a carbon copy of the plot of A New Hope, from the struggle between an evil empire and rebellion against it, to the individual characters. It’s not surprising as the film was originally pitched as a Star Wars spinoff to Lucasfilm and then reworked into an original story once it was passed on by Lucasfilm, but the Star Wars DNA still remains. There is a Han Solo-esque character, a young farmer joining a larger rebellion, and even a cantina scene where the agents of the evil empire track down our heroes to name a few similarities. Any elements to differentiate it from Star Wars feel directly ripped from other famous stories like Harry Potter, Dune, Gladiator and The Lord of the Rings (yes, watch out for hippogriff sightings and Aragog). And none of these ideas are used to any great effect. Instead, the story plays out as a hollow, uninspired rehashing of the great films that are being mimicked here. The story itself is only half of the entire story, with Part 2 coming next spring, but given that this film runs over two hours and very little actually occurs, it’s a dull experience from start to finish. It’s clear that Snyder has ideas, but he is not able to pull his scattered story together to create a captivating experience, only worsened by the fact that you’ve seen this story before and it was much better that time. While Snyder claims that the R rated cut is an “entirely different story”, I don’t see it being different enough to make it not feel like a lame imitation of far superior science fiction and fantasy films.

If there is one thing Snyder is notorious for, it is extravagant action sequences featuring lots of slow motion, and to no surprise Rebel Moon is full of exactly that. But, unlike the majority of his previous films where these scenes were an exciting highlight, they feel watered down here. Part of that is due to the editing to achieve a PG-13 rating, removing the brutality and gore that you know exists in the R rated cut. The slow motion feels out of place, not highlighting any particular cool or epic fight moves, but merely present because Snyder cannot resist using it. But more simply, apart from the final fight sequence, the sequences are not terribly exciting and feel more like motions the film has to go through rather than an exciting addition to it. It’s too bad as the fight choreography is impressive, and some elements of the scenes are cool, but not even the action can salvage the film from being a misfire.

There is no question that Snyder has got a good cast in this film, but the story truly fails them at every turn. Sofia Boutella is a great choice for the lead role of Kora, bringing grit and strength to our lead heroine with a dark past. It’s the type of role that you could imagine a younger Charlize Theron in, and Boutella captures that intensity and is one of the highlights of the film, even if the screenplay fails to give her any interesting material to work with. Ed Skrein chews up every scene he has as the villainous Atticus Noble, becoming a formidable presence in the entire film even if you have no emotional stakes in the story. Charlie Hunnam seems to be having fun as the Han Solo-esque Kai, even if his Irish accent is incredibly out of place, and even Anthony Hopkins is present both narrating the film and voicing a robot character. Though, it's the waste of Michiel Huisman’s talents as Gunnar which irked me the most, making this truly wonderful actor talk about grain and harvesting for over two hours and nothing more.

The only other good part of the film is Tom Holkenborg aka. Junkie XL’s musical score. Holkenborg has been working with Snyder since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his musical scores perfectly matches not only Snyder’s epic tone for the film, but the futuristic world he is creating. It injects each scene with a sense of excitement, mystery and danger, trying its best to elevate the film, helping to keep audiences engaged as the sound is paired with some great visuals on screen, even with no substance to support either of these aspects of the film.

Without doubt, Rebel Moon will rack up impressive viewing numbers on Netflix this weekend, as Zack Snyder has that pull as a director. Being a fan of his work, it truly brings me no pleasure to report that Rebel Moon - Part 1: A Child of Fire is his least interesting outing as a director and arguably his worst film to date. Presenting itself as an original science fiction epic, Rebel Moon - Part 1: A Child of Fire is sadly a lackluster retread of some of the genre’s best stories, resulting in a terribly boring and sadly mediocre experience that not only wastes the talents of the cast, but is sadly half of this bloated yet hollow story.

bottom of page