By: Oli Phillips
So the story goes… director Zack Snyder wanted to make a Star Wars film and Lucas film said “No”, so Snyder said, “alright, I’ll just do my own thing” and thus, Rebel Moon was born.
Directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Netflix, Rebel Moon is a streaming film the likes of Extraction, The Grey Man, Red Notice and Prey among many others. The film stars an ensemble cast, notably Korra (Sofia Boutella), Kai (Charlie Hunnam), Adiral Atticus (Ed Skrein), & Jimmy (Anthony Hopkins) in a minor role.
Rebel Moon is a original Science Fiction film and a passion project from the director. The lead up to the launch of the film has been met with a great deal of trepidation, as many voices online have grown frustrated with a lack of original ideas, imagination, or innovation present in big budget movies.
Rebel Moon is part one of a two part sci-fi epic, with part two coming out in April next year. Without spoiling anything you can be assured that the film doesn’t end on a cliff hanger but it does allude to part 2. The film follows Korra (Sofia Boutella) a fugitive and ex-soldier who is hiding out on a remote farming world colony.
It doesn’t take long for the greater galaxy to catch up with her; as emissaries of the great Motherworld, arrive at the colony with a war ship and demand tribute towards the empire’s ongoing conquest. Pretty soon conflict breaks out and Kora must journey across the galaxy, seeking out new allies to help defend the village.
The film takes a lot of cues from Star Wars and you can tell that was some of the original idea before it became its own setting. There are Rebel Moon‘s version of blasters, which let of a satisfying and hefty thud with each shot. Like many Zack Snyder films, the sound design of the film is superb and this carries over to other sounds, like swords that can ignite into laser swords, space ship thrusters and the sound of the explosions on screen. Oddly for an epic, the soundtrack is strangely subliminal, with composer Junkie XL’s soundtrack only standing out towards the movie’s climatic confrontation.
Rebel Moon‘s Star Wars comparisons run deep, even in the character types present in the the ensemble cast which has a number of stand out actors. Korra (Sofia Boutella) is a watchable lead and gets the most development, but despite having an interesting backstory a lot of her past is purposefully not revealed; which makes it difficult to connect with her.
A similar thing could be said for Admiral Atticus (Ed Skrein) as the film’s antagonist; his performance as a villain is excellent and unnerving. Yet even he could have used a couple additional moments to solidify his motivations. Kai (Charlie Hunnam) is a Han Solo-esk rogue, who is likable but feels constrained compared to most roles he stars in. Darrian Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher) is also a worthwhile mention, for while his performance is brief he ends up being one of the coolest characters on screen.
Unfortunately, despite the obvious comparisons to Star Wars, Rebel Moon could have learned a thing or two about story structure from those films. The film all too often delves into the the old cautionary tale of telling and not showing. There is a lot of exposition delivered throughout the runtime which is intended for world building. As a result the film neglects the most important part of any story, the characters, and makes the pacing feel uneven by being both slow and rushed at the same time.
There are a number of aspects of the film that feel unearned with a number of scenes that should and could have felt profound; end up falling short. Rather than taking the time to set-up these moments; even in an individual scene, the payoff feels unearned and even monotonous at times. This is most obvious in the way the director uses slow motion during action sequences which is ineffectively used regularly rather than as a reward for something meaningful. This feels like a strange criticism for a director who is renowned for his previously well implemented use of the technique in films such as ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’, for example.
All in all, Rebel Moon is a film that deserves to be seen by science fiction fans and may develop a cult following. It is simultaneously an interesting example of how not to compose a story but it is also rich with imagination and earnest passion. It is very well made and considering it was made as a straight to streaming 80 million dollar budget film, the directors visual effects team have made incredible use of the funds.
Netflix have promised there will be a directors cut released before Part 2 and Snyder’s directors cuts are renowned for turning average films into great films. As it stands now, Rebel Moon is not the next Sci-Fi masterpiece, but it is an entertaining watch.
I’d give Rebel Moon 3 planets out of 5
Parental advisory: There is rare use of explicit language and contains action scenes with science fiction violence and some small graphic scenes.
Article supplied with thanks to Life FM in Adelaide.
Feature image: Movie images