Review: Rebel Moon: Part 1 – A Child of Fire

Rebel Moon had everything going for it, but the results are extremely disappointing.

A tyrannical, galactic organisation threatens a farming world. But one citizen is not all she appears to be and vows to repel the attackers by assembling a team of rogues.

Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire is the first in a two-part story written and directed by Zack Snyder, released on Netflix, and starring notable names such as Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Bae Doona, and Anthony Hopkins. It is a new space opera epic such as the likes of Star Wars and countless others.

And when we say that we mean: ridiculously ripping off as many other science fiction properties as possible.

This is a terrible way to gain any sort of favour in the current climate of genre cinema. Disney and Lucasfilm have rammed Star Wars into the ground, making this the perfect opportunity for something else to rise up and take its place. “Rebel Moon“, even its name alone could be a Star Wars spin-off. But what we get is something derivative. And that is a terrible shame.

That’s it? What? We are some kinda suicide squad?

George Lucas has said many times that Star Wars was a melding of East and West; of the samurai movies by Kurosawa, and the Wild Westerns of American cinema. It is in the DNA of Star Wars, and has in turn influenced dozens if not hundreds of science fiction properties ever since.

When Rebel Moon shows itself to be literally Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai in space, and literally has its main characters go to a cantina on a world that has Japanese and Western influences in its design… you really, really wonder if Zack Snyder has been awake for the last 40 years of cinema history. There are literal shot compositions in this cantina sequence that are straight out of A New Hope. The premise is literally farmers leaving their village to find warriors to defend them against oppressors who want “everything they have”. This is the story of Seven Samurai.

But okay, the popular adage states: “there are no original ideas anymore”. We can forgive some replication. Only, Rebel Moon struggles with its own inventions; the characters they find have as much development as those from Suicide Squad (the bad one) and the villains are just Nazis again but with pastimes that even the Harkonnens from Dune would raise eyebrows at.

There are… so many ideas from other properties that it is hard to pinpoint the original elements. One minute we have a kindly old man being beaten to death, then we are having a robot waxing poetic about a history we never see (a robot who isn’t seen again for 99% of the movie) then back to the dead man and people screaming around him about how he’s dead. It is baffling at times.

Are we the baddies?

But it is infuriating simply because… for everything it steals, it is an original story, with original characters. We need more of these. It isn’t based off a comic, it isn’t a remake, it isn’t an adaptation of a book. It is a movie screenplay. Someone wanted this vision to be realized, and it has been, and there are some really nice production value dotted around. The aforementioned robot has some really neat details on him, for example.

But it is so… so derivative. The plot goes exactly the way you expect it to, the characters go through the motions without any personal investment. Bae Doona’s character is laughable as “the cool Asian one”, while Djimon Hounsou, an incredible actor, is playing (apparently) an incredible military general; he does nothing of value and says nothing of value.

We should support original science fiction, but this is not the one. Part Two cannot possibly salvage what is wrong with this writing.

Additional Marshmallows: Some of the properties I saw ripped off in this film: Dune, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Suicide Squad, Seven Samurai, Valerian, John Carter, Star Trek, Transformers, Warhammer 40,000…

Additional, Additional Marshmallows: Don’t have someone trying to do an Irish accent and have them say “Pollux”. Hahah.

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