How Rebel Moon Fails Even By Zack Snyder Standards

Rebel Moon is Zack Snyder’s latest epic sci-fi extravaganza, which honestly, felt like anything but. The new film marks the first part of a two-part saga meant to tell a sprawling story in the vein of Star Wars. The auteur filmmaker’s unique style of storytelling is on full display in his first-ever fully original work with Rebel Moon. However, while the movie is large in spectacle and visual effects, there is a lot that doesn’t work. But the most surprising Rebel Moon failure is that the movie doesn’t even live up to the standards set by the director himself. Read on to find out how it’s not just a bad movie, it’s a bad Zack Snyder movie. 

Please note that the following will contain many spoilers for Rebel Moon: Part 1— The Child Of Fire. Now streaming on Netflix. 

No Emotional Centre To Any Character

Rebel Moon failure cast.
Image via Netflix.

One of the biggest Rebel Moon failure is the lack of any character development. Which is self-defeating, given the massive ensemble cast of the movie. The main lead of Kora (Sofia Boutella) is meant to be this disgraced soldier living in exile. However, most of her dark past is just narrated to audiences, with flashbacks. So her tragic past and humble present don’t feel earned, as much as it just feels like checking off a box. Which is not at all what other Snyder movies have done. Movies like The Watchmen, Man Of Steel and 300, all featured character arcs with angst, turmoil, crisis and nuance. It’s the blending of those emotionally impactful moments with the larger-than-life spectacle that makes it almost a Snyder trademark. Not in Rebel Moon though.

Similarly, we never get to sit with any of the new characters, introduced one by one, in a very formulaic way. It’s more of just that Kora comes across them, there’s a flimsy reason for them to interact, and then they join her mission. Then onto the next plot point. Most characters’ backstory is just said out loud by another character. Almost like a character bio. So the whole process of recruiting soldiers to save their village feels forced. Almost like a foregone conclusion that the characters are just acting out to get from point A to point B in the story. This also hurts the story as audiences feel nothing when some of these characters shockingly, or heroically die. This leads me to the next Rebel Moon failure…

Rebel Moon Failure Focuses On How Actors Were Not Up To The Task

Rebel Moon failure farmer.
Image via Netflix.

I understand stacking your cast with mostly unknowns or character actors. I even get headlining the entire franchise with Boutella, known mostly for her action ability, than acting talent. So seeing that, I initially assumed that the role would be action-heavy, hence Boutella’s casting. Instead, Snyder gives Kora a lot of story and trauma that Boutella has to genuinely play through her expressions and narration. But unfortunately, she is not up to the challenges that the emotional depth of the character requires. Another dark contrast from other Snyder movies, which features some of the best moments in the careers of some of those actors. From Gerard Butler in 300, and Billy Crudup in The Watchmen to Ben Affleck in Batman V. Superman, all performances that have become classics in the pop culture zeitgeist. However, it’s one of the weakest links of this movie. 

Some of this can also be attributed to the writing of the movie as well. Some of the lines that come out of Djimon Hounsou’s mouth are so cringe. Others like Ed Skrein try to infuse some charisma into their roles, but the stilted dialogue prevents them from sounding in any way natural or coherent. Much of this Rebel Moon failure is more of a writing issue, as the actors aren’t given any time to make the characters feel natural or familiar, before the story barrels to the next formulaic progression. 

The Action Surprisingly Disappoints

Rebel Moon failure sword.
Image via Netflix.

Love him or hate him, Zack Snyder’s visual game is on point. His movies are all gorgeous with breathtaking shots that truly push the boundaries of how cinematic certain sequences can be. So while a less-than-strong story, questionable performances and an acquired taste may be expected from a Zack Snyder movie, the action never disappoints. Except now. 

A huge Rebel Moon failure is how the action choreography is so inherently boring. There are no visually gripping scenes or movements that feel new or in any way exciting. The opening fight scene was to convey to us how badass the lead character, up until then, an innocent farmer, actually was. But it was just a generic sequence of Kora hacking punching and shooting some guys in slow-mo. None of it felt epic or like she was some super-skilled fighter with a never-before-seen fighting style. Which was clearly the intention of that scene. And the lacklustre action continues through the rest of the movie. Which is the last thing you expect from a Zack Snyder movie. 

Zack Snyder’s Own Legacy Fails Rebel Moon

Image via Netflix.

The last thing that I consider the most egregious Rebel Moon failure, is how the movie is being sold as the typical Zack Snyder movie, which makes no sense. Working under the studio system, a very specific filmmaker like Snyder, like others, had to compromise. This resulted in a trend where the director’s cuts of his movies, tend to be better than the theatrical, given his version sees his vision how he originally intended. And not the compromise he had to make for the studios. Which is all fine and good. 

But the entire point of streaming, especially Netflix, is that filmmakers can craft their own vision how they see fit, without worrying about any restrictions like run-time, four-quadrant audience or demographics, a PG rating, and more. Reportedly, Netflix wanted Rebel Moon to be PG-13, while Snyder wanted it to be R. So the compromise was two versions, one family-friendly, the other for mature adults.

But the problem here is that Rebel Moon: Part 1- A Child Of Fire, feels like an incomplete movie. The entire film is more like act 1 of a larger story, where we just meet the main ensemble of characters. And that’s it. So hard to feel entertained and satisfied by a story that so far, has gone nowhere, with characters we aren’t allowed to spend any time with to even care about. So it ends up hurting the movie, marketing it as just one version of a story left intentionally incomplete, so its director could later sell a better version.

Rebel Moon: Part 1— A Child Of Fire is now streaming on Netflix

What did you think of Rebel Moon? Did you enjoy or did you run into these same issues as me? Let me know in the comments below, or over at X (Twitter) at @theshahshahid. 

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About Shah

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad