I know I might not be the best person to hear a review from when it comes to Zack Snyder movies. I liked his DCEU films and was part of the Snyder Cut movement that spawned his director’s cut film. And I feel that the man and his films get far more hate than they deserve. However, I haven’t watched all his films, and I think that some are definitely better than others. So, for my Rebel Moon Part One Review, I ask that you do what I did when I started watching this film: keep an open mind and see where it goes.
When Zack Snyder announced his Rebel Moon franchise, he made it clear that this was a story he came up with for the Star Wars franchise once upon a time that got passed on. So, like many other creators like him, he just made the story his own, and here it is! Well, in one part, anyway. The universe is one where a singular entity has fought and dominated all planets that it deemed valuable. But at the peak of its power, its royal family was assassinated, a regent was put in their place, and the seedlings of rebellion were sewn. A lone ship of great power was set out to crush those rebels, but in our story, it just made even more rebels.
Rebel Moon Part One focuses at first on a simple farming village that is trying to enjoy their simple lives when they are “greeted” by the “King’s Gaze.” A ship helmed by Admiral Noble, who is on a quest by the Motherworld to root out the rebels, as I mentioned. But like many before them, they try to gain support through fear, and that brings us to Kora. Kora (played epically by Sofia Boutella) is a runaway whom the village took in. So when they threaten them, she fights back and swears to bring in fighters and the resistance to take down the dreadnought and save their lives.
What follows is a fun, albeit brief at points, journey across several worlds as we meet many of the “rebels” that Kora will fight alongside in the battles to come. Some are who you might expect, like General Tidus, the outcast from the Imperium who wants revenge. Others aren’t what you would expect, like the robotic Jimmy, whose “purpose” was lost with the death of the king and his family, yet still has the ability to fight when necessary. As you hop from one world to another, you see just how vast the universe is and the curious beings that live within it.
One thing I’ve seen from various Rebel Moon reviews (both good and bad) is that Zack Snyder takes inspiration from everything that’s come before. And he does! But he also uses it to fun and sometimes hilarious effect to make it his own. Like when we meet Tarak, who tames a special creature to earn his freedom…and then watches in joy when said beast kills his oppressor. I laughed at that moment, too.
Nemesis was also someone that I liked despite her limited speaking role in the first film. You might think, “Oh, she’s just the ‘lightsaber character,’ but it’s more nuanced than that, and I want to know more about her.
Another thing I saw in other reviews is that there “wasn’t anything original about Rebel Moon.” If you think that? I’m sorry, but we’re watching two different films. I saw many things that were unique, clever, and unexpected. For example, by the end of the movie, two key rebels who were heavily promoted die. One you might see coming, and the other you won’t. That’s what makes Rebel Moon fun in many ways: you revel in the familiar, and then you enjoy what you don’t expect.
Visually, the effects and looks of Rebel Moon’s aliens and planets are very nice. There was only one scene where I said, “Yeah, that’s bad VFX,” which is MUCH less than recent DC Comics and Marvel films, if I’m being honest. Plus, with the second film promising even more, I’m curious about what we’ll see next.
Easily, one of my favorite characters, outside of Kora, was Admiral Noble. A “hero’s journey” tale is only as good as its villain, right? Ed Skrein made every moment he was on screen count. He could play things in a chipper way to make you think he would do one thing when he would do another. Or, he could turn on the evil and leave you speechless as to what he did. I honestly thought he was done for by the end of part one, and I’m glad I was wrong because he definitely has more to offer this franchise.
If you do like Zack Snyder films, or you at least appreciate some of the things he does, you’ll find plenty of them here. Slow-motion shots, big action beats, a huge scope to the universe, and visually stunning scenes and backdrops. All of it is here, and it makes you hungry sometimes for what he has in mind for Part Two.
If you’re noticing a theme in my Rebel Moon Part One Review, it’s because if I were to point out a flaw or two in the film, it’s that it teases a lot but doesn’t always give you everything in return. In this case, outside of Kora, we only get a light backstory on the other rebels. I’m glad we got what we did, but I was hoping for more in spots. The irony is that this is the good kind of “hunger.” I saw many people who liked the movie say that we could get “spinoffs” starring these characters, and I wouldn’t mind that given the scale and scope we’ve seen so far. Each of these rebels has stories to tell, and I want to hear them all.
The other main problem is that while it doesn’t fully suffer from the “Part One Syndrome,” you can see certain areas where scenes were cut. If you haven’t heard, Snyder made the PG-13 version for Netflix so they could appeal to more people, and there’s the “Director’s Cut” version upcoming that’ll be R-rated. I’m curious what will be added in that cut, and it could make the film even better, especially if it fleshes out certain characters and beats more. I did like the film, but again, it left me hungry for more.
Continuing on with the “Part One Syndrome” problem is that while the film does have a solid ending before teasing part two (not unlike, say, Star Wars: A New Hope) if you were hoping to see all the Rebels showing off their stuff across multiple battles, you will be disappointed. There is a climactic battle where all of them are on display, but you could argue it didn’t deliver the “payoff” that warranted hoping from one place to another to get all of them. But, then again, that’s why Part Two exists.
As I wind down my Rebel Moon Part One Review, I’m still left with that one word I’ve been repeating a lot, “hunger.” I’ve seen a lot of movies and TV shows, and I always remember the ones where I’m like, “I have to wait until WHEN for the sequel?” This is one of those movies for me. Zack Snyder wove a tale that was fun, tragic, intricate, and had so many layers that it would’ve been impossible to see them all unraveled in one shot. I could’ve easily seen this movie go three hours (which might be what happens in the director’s cut) and probably not have gotten bored.
Is this movie one everyone will like? We already know the answer to that. But if you’re curious, do what I always do. Block out the praise and hate, and just watch it! If you like it? Great! If you don’t? That’s okay! As my Rebel Moon Part One Review score will show, I did like this movie, and I look forward to Part Two next year.
What can I say? I’m a rebel at heart.
Rebel Moon Part One Review
Rebel Moon Part One – A Child Of Fire brought a new universe to life and will leave you wondering what will happen next and what else in this universe one can explore. If you give it a shot? you might be surprised by how much you like it!
- Rebel Moon Part One