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Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire

Christmas 2023 is officially ruined and we have Zack Snyder to thank for that.

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With Rebel Moon, it feels like the world has come to a unanimous conclusion: Zack Snyder is a dunderhead who should stay away from the nearest film camera and keep himself locked up in a tiny, tiny broom closet where he can't hurt the film world with his teenage fantasies any more. I have now taken on the rather daunting task of reviewing this film.

Rebel Moon is a jam-packed pop culture remix of all sorts of franchises and genres. Hippogriffs and Nazi underwear are liberally mixed with a space western and cyberpunk in what should have been a nerd's wet dream, but which never manages to find its own identity in what can best be described as a tasteless science fiction smut. The genre mix is most reminiscent of the ultra trashy Jupiter Ascending, which tried to mix space opera with Cinderella in a desperate attempt to find a younger audience. Rebel Moon has no conceivable target audience other than Snyder himself, who most likely masturbated to all the gratuitous slow motion effects in the editing room.

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire

What about the plot? Peaceful farmers are invaded by the Empire, who claim all their crops just to oppress them. However, one of these farmers, Kora - a scrawny former Imperium soldier - fights back and decides to protect her newfound home by gathering an army from all corners of the galaxy. It's predictable, ugly and downright stupid, but it technically works as a premise. After about 30 minutes, however, you realise that the filmmakers have forgotten all about drama and emotional stakes, because the rest of the film contains none. At all. Zero. Nada! In fact, the rest of A Child of Fire consists of a series of side missions from a science fiction game that are barely tied together by a thread that is barely tangible.

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The characters act more like babbling machines that go from point A to point B to gather a rebel force and spit out ridiculous lines, but there is no emotional drive behind the characters whatsoever. There are plenty of flashbacks that invade the viewer with background information, and there are plenty of scenes where bumbling characters tell you what they're feeling, rather than showing it. The dialogue consists mostly of exposition dumps and the emotional dialogue is so banal that you can see the pain in the actors' eyes as they spew out one infantile line after another. It's bloodless, toothless and unimaginative in almost every aspect, plain and simple. Just look at Ed Skrein as the film's antagonist, an upper-lip duckface Nazi who beats people with an old cane. Eat that, Vader and Hans Landa!

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire

However, the lack of a story is what hurts the film the most. This is more of a bridge to the next film than a film in itself. The whole thing feels like a series of cool comic book panels from different comic books without a larger context, and is downright numbingly boring and jarring to watch. More time is spent on building this universe than on the characters themselves, which here feel like an afterthought. Snyder's visual acuity quickly loses its lustre in his sloppy direction and mushy green screen effects. It's expected that Snyder would favour style over substance, but even style isn't particularly appealing here. The Firefly, Heavy Metal and Warhammer influences just don't work if the whole thing still feels like a more lavish The Witcher: Blood Origin.

Sometimes it can be fun to cut a film down to size, but this is more tragic than fun. Rebel Moon would have worked better as a four-hour Director's Cut where you could see Snyder's passion project in its entirety, as I would hardly count A Child of Fire as a film. Rebel Moon has been marketed as a "Star Wars for adults", but in the end, Star Wars turns out to be far more adult than what Snyder has been shitting out. Merry Christmas, Zack Snyder, and thanks for the piece of coal.

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01 Gamereactor UK
1 / 10
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