“I am a child of war.”Kora
The parallels between Rebel Moon and Star Wars — both set in a galaxy ruled by an authoritarian empire challenged by a small band of rebels — are overstated and certainly not the primary issue with Zack Snyder’s space opera, which draws liberal inspiration from the past 50 years of sci-fi movies. This “Part 1” (due to be concluded next year) sets up the pleasantly small-scale stakes of a farming community facing a ticking clock to destruction, but it devolves into a collect-a-thon when Kora leaves to recruit warriors to aid their fight. It turns the film’s second act into a series of extended introductions to cookie-cutter characters, usually involving violence. An amalgamation of these scenes may have made for a bombastic trailer but laid out in full it is barely watchable. Rebel Moon’s most interesting character is the android Jimmy, a contemplative former soldier voiced by Anthony Hopkins, but once established he vanishes (the fact he may be relevant in Part 2 does little to aid this film). A villainous Ed Skrein is at least enjoying himself as a cruel and capricious officer. Disappointingly, much of the world building occurs through clunky expository monologues about Kora’s past rather than emerging organically from the story. The purpose of planet-hopping space opera should be to explore the variety offered by a vast galaxy, but Snyder’s “vision” is a series of grimy monochromatic locations that rarely feel like distinct worlds. The action is rote, save for Nemesis’s twin-bladed fight against a chimeric arachnid, and Snyder’s continuing predilection for slow-motion adds little beyond extending the running time. If Netflix is paying for “content”, there is plenty here but with little depth to any of it. Rebel Moon is not even thematically consistent, with Nemesis warning against revenge immediately followed by Kora enticing her next recruit with a promise of revenge. With the production values on display this is not Battlefield Earth bad, but it does become nearly as ponderous. Snyder recently stated that he was glad he didn’t get his wish to direct a Star Wars movie because it granted him greater creative control in Rebel Moon instead; perhaps we should all be equally glad, if not for the same reason.