Rebel Moon Part 1: A Child of Fire Review

I just watched Zack Snyder’s new Netflix movie Rebel Moon, Part one, The Child of Fire. This is my spoiler-free review.

Movie Details

This is Snyder’s second movie with Netflix, the first of which was Army of the Dead, which just happens to be one of my favorite zombie movies of all time. And while I’m a huge fan of Snyder and his work, I’m not so big of a fan that I am one of those people fighting for more Snyder movies in the DC Universe. I wouldn’t be upset if we got more, but I’m a supporter of Snyder and his newer ventures.

He also was a producer of Army of Thieves on Netflix, and I enjoyed that movie too. This movie is the first of two parts. The second of which drops in April. Stars of the movie include Sofia Boutella as the main character, Kora, as well as Charlie Hunnam, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, and a host of other actors.

Snyder gets an assist on writing from Shay Hatten, who contributed to both Army of the Dead and Army of Thieves for Snyder recently, and Kurt Johnston, who previously worked with Snyder on 300.

The movie goes straight to Netflix after a very limited theatrical run. It will be presented on four screens and 70 millimeters, one in L.A., New York, Toronto and in London. I’d be surprised if they literally don’t show it anywhere else, though. I took a road trip to Toronto to watch the movie at the TIFF Bell LightBox Theater.

Star Wars Similarities

The structure of the movie is similar to Star Wars in many ways. Snyder himself said that the movie originated from a pitch to Lucasfilm for a Star Wars movie that just wound up being rejected. Much like a new hope, the movie starts off in a sandy, dusty planet. Our heroes leave, said Planet and recruit rebels to take on an oppressing force like swords are involved.

There’s a very intelligent droid. There’s a grotesque looking villain that could kind of be compared to Jabba the Hutt, if you squint your eyes. There’s a final battle that takes place in a similar looking locale as the one in Empire Strikes Back. But it’s also a lot more edgy than Star Wars. There’s some great slo-mo action sequences and more of an emphasis on the blasters than there is on the light swords.

Supposedly, there’s an R-rated director’s cut that’s going to be coming too, and I can see where that might enhance some of the action scenes as well. You might see people getting wounded in fights, maybe some blood spurts. All of that would just add to the edginess.

What I liked about the movie

My favorite thing about the movie was definitely Sofia Boutella’s fiery performance. You know what she’s about the second she pops up on screen. She tries to motivate her adoptive village to defend themselves against that oppressing force. We see her standing on business with her blasters and most of the coolest moments in the movie hers. She has an interesting look and mystique that makes the character of Korra kind of intriguing.

I also enjoyed the performances of her fellow Rebels. I loved Anthony Hopkins Jimmy Droid as he was there to help us hate that tyrant group. We see them just mistreating everybody, including that Jimmy. Hopkins adds some gravitas for sure. He gave us a lot of exposition of past events that are sure to be fleshed out even more in future sequels or prequels should these movies do well.

I also loved a lot of the cinematography here. That’s something that is usually a strong suit for Snyder movies, whether that’s bad ass looking fight scenes or picturesque views of space, or the ships, the planets, or even the light swords that we see in the trailers. I just really enjoyed the visuals in this movie.

What I didn’t like

Even though the movie had all of that going for it, I definitely had some grievances. There were a lot more clunky, special effects than what I’m used to in a Snyder movie. Almost every scene appears to be green screen or the volume, and there’s mixed results with in some of the shots, the ships look very painted in. And there was one particular scene with the main villain of the movie interacting with some kind of tentacle monster and just that monster look very fake.

There was a Spider Lady Armada that just looked awful to me and it just reminded me of something that would be in an older Star Trek series. The scene with her wasn’t bad, but I just wasn’t a big fan of the character or the character design.

You can also mark the villains as a flaw in the movie. They’re kind of just regular run of the mill evil. No real motivations or reasons why they’re just so terrible to people, just generally unlikable and awful people. I want to like Ed screens Admiral Atticus Nobel character, but I don’t think that I did. But he had some decent moments here and there, though there were also some plot things that I had issue with and some of the flashbacks.

The main character seemed just as evil as some of the villains. I felt like if that was her past, I was wondering what her redemption moment was. I felt like I didn’t know enough about most of the characters in the movie to really care about what they had going on.

I noticed plot holes, inconsistencies and a couple spots. For instance, there was a moment where she says that she was trained to not be able to love. But then later in a flashback, we see that the opposite is true. Maybe I missed it, but when Djimon Hounsou character shows up, he has his big, scruffy, disheveled beard. And in the next moment it’s very cleaned up. And I really didn’t see what happened and causes change in appearance.

The Verdict

So in comparing this to Snyder’s previous work, I wish that I could rank highly, but I think this might be my least favorite of the movies he’s created and is the first one that I didn’t love on my first watch. I didn’t dislike it, though. It had some great action and some of the characters were really cool, but the story just doesn’t hold up. I think it’s worth a watch though, and I’ll be interested to see the longer director’s cut and part two of the movie. Hopefully those will help pull things together and build this into a franchise.

So let me know what you thought of Rebel Moon or if you’re planning to watch. How do you think it stacks up compared to Snyder’s previous movies? Let me know in the comments.