Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire ★½

Zack Snyder's Battle Beyond the Stars but worse

It's not really quite as "we have Star Wars at home" as it is "we have everything at home". A short list of some of the most obvious stuff: lightsabers, orcs, Nazis (sometimes I wondered if an extra from The Zone of Interest accidentally wandered on the set), hippogriffs, Han Solo with a bad accent, the Matrix, gladiators, and, of course, Seven Samurai. While great artists steal, stealing this much and doing this little to transform what you've plundered into a cohesive whole feels sloppy in a way many equally derivative works (like Star Wars itself) do not. There's no sense of what the world of Rebel Moon looks or feels like – it's just everything from every piece of pop culture, all at once.

If that is issue number one, I guess number two is that the filmmaking shockingly bad? Splitting the dramatic arc of Seven Samurai in two is a terrible decision on every level; the overwrought climax acts as a trailer for the next installment instead of concluding anything, and several characters disappear completely after the first half. As a result of the seriously choppy pacing, it feels like the crew is teleporting from place to place instead of traveling across the galaxy. Nearly every piece of dialogue is either direct exposition or underdeveloped characters delivering unconvincing speeches that work on their targets for no other reason than the narrative needing that to happen. And the fights, besides the gratuitous slow motion, have plenty of singular cool moments but largely feel like bland connective tissue between them. Rebel Moon: unforgivably messy in the big picture, and simply not that fun to watch in general.

With the Snyder Cut apparently already confirmed, my only question is: why even torture audiences with this version? It's obvious that the rating leaves the violence completely impactless and hurts the action a lot (cool that they left the grating references to sexual assault in though), but even the basic narrative is so disjointed that basically everything is in desperate need of more time to flesh things out. If this rating and this runtime were demanded by Netflix, why not simply make a movie capable of delivering a satisfying experience within those parameters? I'm no auteur, but idk I feel like I would just do that

Anyway, I hope the answer to this thrilling mystery will be revealed in Rebel Moon: Part Two: The Empire Strikes Back: Rebel Harder, releasing on Netflix soon for whoever is still watching after such a clunker of a first half. If I do, it will only be out of some wretched sense of completionism.

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