REBEL MOON PART 1: CHILD OF FIRE. Snyder’s Dream Fulfilled = Viewer’s Nightmare [REVIEW]

Snyder’s film is (by design) an epic tale reminiscent of the Star Wars world.

Marcin Konczewski

23 December 2023

I thought it couldn’t get worse than the new Aquaman, which I reviewed just yesterday. I was wrong again. The creator of Justice League and the Snyder Cut, 300, a specialist in director’s cuts, did it again. One thing you can’t deny Zack Snyder – he is uncompromising and consistently realizes his vision of cinema. His films can be recognized by two, at most three frames. That’s a fact. However, I don’t know if that’s… good or bad. Personally, I lean towards the latter. He’s a fanatic, a geek, as confirmed by interviews and the man himself. Unfortunately, Snyder remains completely uncritical, absorbed in himself. Once again, he slammed a ton of pathos, turned off half the lights, forgot that characters should be living, breathing beings. And above all, he made it a point of honor: more slow motion, the viewer will endure it.

Snyder’s film is (by design) an epic tale reminiscent of the Star Wars world, a story à la Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven. The director often repeats that he dreamed of this project since the first screening of A New Hope. It’s his dream. Interestingly, the creator emphasized that he had full control over the film produced for Netflix, while lately, he suggests that the director’s cut will be something completely different. Oh, how I dislike such cautious hedging. But let’s get back to the story itself. We have the oppressed weaker ones (mandatory farmers), a vast, ruthless Empire, its former commander fleeing from the past, and inevitably, that past catching up with her. Now she must assemble a group of like-minded enemies of the cruel motherland to repel the hegemon’s attack. As you can see, it’s a script straight from a classic (or any RPG), only… without the second and third acts. Because everything ends here with assembling the team. Of course, this can be explained by the fact that it’s the first part of two, but it’s hard to escape the impression that at this point, it’s difficult to talk about a coherent story. Why? Rebel Moon sins at the level of the very foundations – a flawed, scattered script diluted by poor narration. If buying into Zack’s tonal aspect, some scenes are good, engaging, they later disappear with another sequence broken by side missions. They lack drama, tension. And above all, they are sometimes too long, and still, they don’t hit the mark, don’t allow us to like the characters. As a result, we, as viewers, lose engagement in the characters and the story being told.

On the level of narrative building, this is simply an ugly film, luring the viewer only with epicness, references to other excellent cinema classics. If we were to treat individual episodes autonomously, break them down into a series, I think it would turn out much better because the first act manages to hold up. Even if I didn’t like any of the characters, it was nice, down-to-earth, and familiar. Then it just gets worse. As a result, we get a terribly boring and unengaging film in which everything has been somewhere before, and now it’s just colored with Snyder’s filters and an unbearable dose of slow motion. What bothers me the most is how clumsily a plot element from Kurosawa’s cinema is used here – individual exposures in Seven Samurai subtly defined individual characters. However, it happened in interactions with ordinary people, demons’ actions were juxtaposed with human needs and passions. All at the level of deeds, not necessarily a literal explanation like a cow on a fence. Guess where it is resolved exactly like that. Here, everyone is artificially grandiose, sour, and at the same time devoid of a shred of humanity. There is no such thing as a humorous element here. Well, unless you are amused by the fact that two Dario Naharis from Game of Thrones can finally face each other. It amused me. Unfortunately, nothing more. We have heavily carved, stereotypical, sometimes irritating figures that serve as pawns to jump from one cosmic location to another. Although there is a main goal in this, the threads connecting them are not visible. The most interesting character is played by Charlie Hunnam, but he, too, gets lost in the darkness of diluted events. So there is not a single character here who would be human, speak like a real person, and behave that way. Well, maybe except for the robot, whose dialogue with one of the women at the beginning of the film is one of the better things in the whole production. Unfortunately, it’s just a snippet. Protraction with simultaneous brevity. I haven’t seen that in a while.

Similar to surprisingly, Rebel Moon is also weak visually, and visuals have always been extremely important to the creator of Batman v Superman. There is scope here, world-building potential. Maybe it would look better in the cinema? I don’t know if it’s my TV, the lack of some depth of image, or just that ugly filter that the creator flaunts, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that (especially at the beginning) the backgrounds don’t match the foreground, sometimes looking like painted models from a school theater. Maybe it was a deliberate move, triggered by keeping everything in the dark? There is a lack of breakthrough, showing the scale, because the scope is visible in battle scenes, as well as in very cool costumes, costumes, makeup, and practical effects. I liked some visual ideas, I admit. However, these are just bright spots on an artificially darkened map because the clashes and skirmishes drown in Snyder’s darkness, like hope for good, engaging cinema. The worst, however, is the overload of ubiquitous slow motion. Nothing but to add a photo with Dyatlov signed “More slow-mo, the viewer will endure.” Well, I couldn’t endure it. After one too many jumps with legs bent and arms raised for a blow, I shook my head in embarrassment because it started to turn into an unconscious parody in my mind.

Unfortunately, despite the enormous world-building potential, a visible vision, and the creator’s passion, it turns out that without character ideas, a poor script, a derivative story, and with artificial pathos, you can’t make good cinema. Rebel Moon is stuck narratively somewhere between acts 1 and 2. What’s worse is that it’s a shameless copy of Star Wars (the creators admit it themselves), Seven Samurai, and… everything that happened in space. With Dune at the forefront.”

Marcin Konczewski

Marcin Konczewski

The founder of the Kon (Horse) Movie fanpage, where he transforms into a film animal who gallops with pleasure through the multiverse of superhero productions, science-fiction, fantasy and all kinds of animations. If he had to say something about himself, he would say that Kon is a pop culture lover, a self-proclaimed critic constantly looking for a human in cinema, a fan of non games, literature, dinosaurs and Batman. Professionally, a teacher (by choice), always opposed to the concrete education system, strongly pushing alternative forms of education. He quietly writes fairy tales and fantastic stories for his little son. A Polish philologist by education. He collaborates with several publishing houses and YouTube channels.

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