REBEL MOON – PART ONE: A CHILD OF FIRE on Netflix is a sci-fi fantasy genre hybrid from Zack Snyder. Full of slow-motion scenes and a minimal plot, it’s just not good. Read our full Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire movie review here!

REBEL MOON – PART ONE: A CHILD OF FIRE is a new Netflix movie from Zack Snyder. I’m not entirely sure why anyone felt a need to make this, and quite frankly, I can’t help but think of all the amazing Netflix series, we could’ve gotten more seasons of for the same budget.

Having said that, I did find the movie-watching experience absolutely fascinating. Mostly due to seeing elements that I recognized from various other movies. It really does play out like something written by an AI that has been fed some of the most famous genre franchises from the past decades.

Continue reading our Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire movie review below. Find it on Netflix from December 22, 2023. Part Two will be coming to Netflix on April 19, 2024.

A very small story

The main protagonist in Rebel Moon is Kora (Sofia Boutella). When the movie opens, she’s on a moon in the “furthest reaches of the universe”. She’s a stranger with a mysterious past, who wants nothing more than to live in the peaceful settlement of farmers.

A place, I might add, that feels like something out of a Western mixed with some Norse mythology. And the accents and dialect in this place – and every other part of the universe featured in Rebel Moon – are all over the place.

Kora turns out to be a former soldier. The best there ever was, pretty much. And hey, I am all for girl power, but her back story really isn’t very deep. Or even told interestingly. In any case, Kora turns out to be the only hope of survival for the peaceful settlement.

The tyrannical Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein) shows up and demands that they share their crops with the army. Or rather, hand over the vast majority which means the people in the settlement would starve.

Obviously, this cannot stand, so Kora and Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), a fellow farmer and kindhearted opportunist, take off for different worlds to assemble a small band of warriors. All of them are under the thumb of the tyrannical Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee) and want to rebel.

So far, so good. Except not really as everything is extremely predictable and none of the characters – despite having a very intriguing cast – are interesting.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire – Review | Netflix Fantasy

Did an AI create Rebel Moon?

The world of Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire feels like the result of someone having fed all kinds of iconic genre films to an AI and asked it to make a new movie. Every single character or plot development feels like something you’ve seen before. Because you have!

The pop culture reference galore includes:
Star Wars
Lord of the Rings
Avatar
… and that’s just to mention some of the obvious references and inspirations during the first hour.

The story opens with a huge spaceship entering a new part of space via what can only be described as a vagina. The Rebel Moon version of Hyperdrive. This happens while a narrator (Anthony Hopkins) speaks of how a thousand Kings in a row have kept the peace.

Pretty much just a new take on the “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” -opening. Same-same, but different.

Also, there’s the use of Norse mythology (in the style of Vikings or even Thor), WWII movies (pick anyone – even the first Captain America), and Westerns. The gritty kind like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Huge cast in perpetual slow motion

We all know that Zack Snyder is the master of slow-motion. It’s his trademark and one I enjoyed in a movie like 300. For the record, I am not a Zack Snyder-hater. Not at all. However, I’m not an automatic fan of what he does either. In that sense, it’s very much a Neil Marshall experience, I sit with.

And all the slow motion in the world can’t save Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire. But it certainly explains the long runtime.

The story and plot are at best very small and at worst, exist only to create various scenes. There isn’t much point to anything. However, you can be damn sure that every other gunshot, sword-wielding, fierce kick, or face-punching scene will be in slow motion.

As if that somehow makes it more impressive or more interesting.

It accomplishes neither!

The movie has a huge cast with many actors doing virtual cameos. Their characters aren’t deep or developed. Still, it does keep you awake that you continue seeing a new recognizable face as you watch the Rebels fighting the Empire. Excuse me, the Imperium.

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The cast includes Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) sporting a new accent as a pilot. Djimon Hounsou (A Quiet Place: Day One) as a General and Doona Bae (The Kingdom) as a master swordswoman. Also, Staz Nair is Tarak, who is enslaved but has a regal past.

Tarak (Staz Nair) has an impressive six-pack and isn’t allowed to wear a shirt. A cape or blanket, sure, but nothing to cover up those abs. To be fair, Kora often just wears a tank top, so this isn’t much better. Especially on cold evenings when others are wearing multiple layers.

But hey, she has a blanket draped across her shoulders. With her shoulders showing, of course. Look, it’s just weird!

Watch Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire on Netflix now!

The director of Rebel Moon is Zack Snyder, which is obvious from the very first glance. Both the world-building and style of constant slow-motion just scream Zack Snyder. Again, I have been very fond of past work from him.

In this movie, it feels like a child who has been told they’re really good at doing cartwheels so now they constantly do cartwheels. Only you replace the cartwheels with slow-motion action scenes. It’s way too much.

The story is credited to Zack Snyder though the inspiration is clearly every popular genre franchise of the past 50 years. The screenplay comes from Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and Shay Hatten (Day Shift).

Kurt Johnstad also wrote on 300 and Atomic Blonde which are two movies I adore. Of course, those two movies were adapted from graphic novels while this is supposedly an original story from Snyder. And sure, it is original, but it feels very unoriginal. Yes, all 2 hours and 13 minutes of it!

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is on Netflix from December 22, 2023.

Details

Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Shay Hatten
Stars: Sofia Boutella, Michiel Huisman, Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein, Bae Doona, Charlie Hunnam, Ray Fisher, Stuart Martin, Anthony Hopkins, Jena Malone, Staz Nair, Corey Stoll, Cary Elwes

Plot

When a peaceful settlement on the edge of a distant moon finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force, a mysterious stranger living among its villagers becomes their best hope for survival.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard