Let me start with a brief opinion of Zack Snyder. It should be obvious by now, but his latest movie Rebel Moon goes over the top proving my point. Zack Snyder is not the greatest storyteller. He is, however, a fantastic visual creator. He uses cutting edge techniques, often combining old technology like quirky film lenses and cameras, as well as cutting edge computer graphics to achieve his vision. I both admire his filmmaking and roll my eyes at the same time. I hate to admit this out loud, but he is very similar to my favorite creator of all time, George Lucas. They both love to push the envelope of what filmmaking can do.
Now that is the biggest comparison to Star Wars that I saw in Rebel Moon. Sure there are elements of sci-fi, but for the most part, the first movie reminded me of other classic and not so classic 80s flicks. Specifically, I kept getting flashbacks to Krull, David Lynch's Dune, The Neverending Story, and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, to name a few. This is not to say I ignored the obvious reference to The Seven Samurai, which is of course a common thread with Star Wars, or the more western version in The Magnificent Seven (either film version). Yes I know The Magnificent Seven is a Americanized version of The Seven Samurai, but I'm more familiar with it, so I'll reference it more confidently.
I'm not the biggest Zack Snyder fan, but I do appreciate his creations and the love he puts into all his projects. Some people might confuse him for a Michael Bay or Renny Harlin, both of whom simply make huge projects with lots of ridiculousness for ridiculousness sake. I'm not saying they haven't done anything worthwhile, I'm just saying their formula gets tired and old. Snyder constantly seems to want to push the boundaries of filmmaking just to see what he can accomplish. I guess the main distinction is his passion comes across in his projects and interviews, whether said project is good or not. I do appreciate he is now creating his own worlds, rather than meddling with my beloved childhood like he did with the DC characters.
This brings us to his famed Star Wars pitch that failed. By now, everyone knows the backstory. He pitched a concept to Lucasfilm. They turned the idea down. Snyder persisted and was able to get his project greenlit by Netflix under the name Rebel Moon.
Rebel Moon starts extremely slow. To the point where I was trepidatiously excited to watch it, but quickly turned it off because I got bored. I was not in the mood for the slow burn. So I had to come back after the holidays. Which I did. Although still a slow start, the action did pick up, rather quickly. One of my favorite actors from Deadpool and Game of Thrones, Ed Skrein, plays Atticus Noble. He's a man hellbent on destroying everything he can. Mainly because he can. He sets this in motion with a visit to the small village where he starts with diplomacy and ends in violence. And this is where it became more Magnificent Seven versus Star Wars. Our main character, the farmer we're first introduced to, Kora, played by the extremely underrated Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond), reluctantly steps in to defend an innocent child on her adopted home world. It was clear she only intended to run from the military invasion sent by the entity known as the Mother World, but seeing an innocent child on the verge of being brutalized, her past catches up to her and she must act. Farmer no more, we see her skills in war are far more advanced that a simple soldier hiding in a remote part of the galaxy. She's a full fledged warrior.
Kora is now committed as she straight up delcares war on the battalion sent to secure food from the tiny village. Her mission turns from running to recruiting an arm of her own to combat the forces of the Mother World. This is why I claim more similarities to Krull and Magnificent Seven than Star Wars. We literally join Kora on her journey of recruitment, meeting new warriors, all with specialities needed to win the battle.
We also learn more about Kora along the way, specifically her ties to the Mother World and her relationship to the royal family and her years of service. Obviously and effectively, this is just teasing us for something much bigger to come.
On top of learning about Kora, we get introduced to her team. First up, from her own farming community, is Michiel Huisman (who like Ed Skrein, played Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones. He is also know for The Haunting of Hill House and World War Z). He doesn't seem to offer any warrior skills, but he's somewhat of a diplomat with a good conscience. Next up we meet Kai, played by one of my favorite actors, Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy and The Gentlemen). He proves to be a sketchy pilot who helps to find all the pieces necessary to find the team.
The rebels continue to join the cause in the form of Tarak (Staz Nair from Game of Thrones and Supergirl), Nemesis (Bae Doona from The Host and Cloud Atlas), Darrian Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher from Justice League and True Detective) and of course the mysterious General Titus, played by one of my all time favorite, yet frequently overlooked actors, Djimon Hounsou (Shazam!, The King's Man, A Quite Place Part II, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, Constantine, Gladiator, and Amistad). I literally named a bunch of my favorites from Djimon because I truly think people overlook this man's fantastic talent. I would also like to take this opportunity to be an uber-nerd and point out Hounsou and Hunnam previously worked together with one of my favorite directors, Guy Ritchie. Although King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not the greatest film ever made, it was definitely a fun adventure! I recommend a viewing.
Anywho, we get the team together, and set off to complete one minor task that happens to be on the way so to speak, before tackling the Mother World. As expected, all hell breaks loose and true alliances are revealed with twists galore. In perhaps the biggest shocker of them all, this leads to the end of part 1. After witnessing the Snydercut for his Justice League project, I just expected a longer viewing. Surprisingly, I found myself wanting more and now. In this, Zack Snyder truly succeeded. He also provides an ending that ups the ante with intrigue, opening the door to more of the mythology involved with the history of the Mother World and thus Rebel Moon.
I can't say I loved this film. I definitely need to see part 2 in order to fully judge the first entry. All in all, I was highly entertained, once the story hit its stride. Again, the story is not ground breaking or innovative, but that can be overlooked with the visuals and filmmaking. I never expected Star Wars, so I guess this helps assuage a lot of the anticipation. And perhaps growing up in the 80s when everyone tried to recreate Star Wars with pitiful imitations, I have become immune to that trashy side of filmmaking. Either way, I saw Rebel Moon as an ode to a lot of science fiction films, but most notably Dune (both the David Lynch and the first entry in the Denis Villleneuve version)
I was pleasantly surprised and have zero problems recommending Rebel Moon: Part One - A Child of Fire to anyone. It was what it needed to be, fun and entertaining.
See how our opinions line up with our original Trailer Trash Talk segment:
Check out the trailer below: