OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire review: Another visually stunning but divisive film by Snyder

The enigmatic filmmaker, Zack Snyder, continues to divide opinion with his latest film

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire review: Another visually stunning but divisive film by Snyder

Last Updated: 02.49 PM, Dec 22, 2023


Story: An idyllic and peaceful farming colony on the edge of the galaxy is threatened with annihilation by the armies of a tyrannical regime of the Motherland. A former high-ranking soldier of the regime, Kora, who has left her old life behind to become a resident of the farming colony, decides to fight back against the oppressors. She travels across the galaxy to recruit warriors for her cause in the hopes of mounting an insurgency against the Motherland and its tyrannical ruler Regent Balisarius.


Review: The most striking aspect about filmmaker Zack Snyder is that people either hate him with a passion or adore him to the point of almost cult-like tribalism. There are few and far between who occupy the space between these two groups. His latest directorial venture is the highly-anticipated space epic Rebel Moon, and after its limited release in theatres last week, critics who attended the early premiere have ripped it apart – as in the case of most Snyder films. It does however present a very pertinent question; is Rebel Moon’s ‘rotten’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes warranted? Or is the film being unfairly held against a different standard when compared to the other film releases of 2023?


The answer is complicated, considering several of Snyder’s major releases have been received poorly by critics. An argument could be made that some of his releases might be misunderstood masterpieces – such as Watchmen, Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But it is worth pointing out that the aforementioned films had revered writers behind each film’s story. Watchmen is an almost faithful adaptation of Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed graphic novel, Man of Steel is co-written by Christopher Nolan, while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is written by Chris Terrio – Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Argo. But his more recent releases for Netflix, such as Army of the Dead and Rebel Moon, are largely written by Snyder himself.


Snyder’s decision to pen the story and co-write both parts of Rebel Moon’s screenplay may have been ill-advised considering his previous efforts with Army of the Dead were less than stellar. Rebel Moon is plagued with similar issues in terms of narrative coherence, character development, overdrawn expositions, minor plot holes, and bland dialogues. While some of the performances by the film’s lead stars were commendable, it could have been more polished with possibly a better screenplay. While these are obviously glaring drawbacks, the same could be said for more than half of the well-received superhero films of the past decade. However, another concern lies in its music by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL. Holkenborg has previously worked with Snyder on several projects to great effect, but the sound design in Rebel Moon lacks a signature style that one can easily associate with the film. It is hard to miss a few similarities with the music of 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League.


Despite this, the film has the bones of an exciting space odyssey. The world-building is on the scale of Star Wars, and it is only fitting that it has an aura of a darker version of Star Wars – taking into account that Rebel Moon was originally pitched as a Star Wars film. In addition to its captivating world-building, the film features an abundance of Snyder’s visual mastery. Each frame of the film is a work of art that further reinforces one’s belief that Snyder’s ability to bring storyboards to life is second to none. The film’s protagonist Kora, played by Sofia Boutella, and her mission to recruit warriors is a very familiar trope, which Snyder himself has leaned on for a few of his films. Game of Thrones fans will immediately recognise both actors who played Dario Naharis, Ed Skrein and Michiel Huisman, who play lead roles in the film. And they also deliver the best performances in Rebel Moon – Skrein as the villainous archetype of a Nazi SS officer in outer space and Huisman as a farmer-turned-resistance fighter. Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam plays the role of a mercenary, and oddly has a Northern Irish accent – which is surprising considering the actor has previously confessed that he lost his natural Geordie accent and now has a mix between an English and an American accent. Ray Fisher, Djimon Hounsou, Doona Bae, and Anthony Hopkins among others essay more roles in the film.


Verdict: Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire is probably the most ‘Zack Synder film’ to date – for better or worse. While the film is plagued with several inconsistencies in screenplay, it offers stunning visuals, captivating Star Wars-style world-building, and the filmmaker’s signature slow-motion action shots. It offers just the right amount of intrigue to keep one invested in the story and for Part 2 which will be released in 2024.



    Get the latest updates in your inbox