'Rebel Moon – Part One: Child Of Fire' review: Failed moon landing


By AGENCY

This first installment of Rebel Moon plays like the first two acts of a movie, or perhaps more truly as a haphazardly assembled series of episodes. — Photos: Netflix

Rebel Moon – Part One: Child Of Fire
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Michiel Huisman, Djimon Hounsou, Doona Bae, Ray Fisher, Anthony Hopkin

Filmmaker Zack Snyder has become a lightning-rod figure in part for the actual movies he makes and in part for the zealous fandom that sprouts up around them.

The loyalty of those legions may very well be put to the test by Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child Of Fire, Snyder’s new, rather leaden franchise-hopeful now streaming on Netflix.

The second part, whose title, The Scargiver, is hinted at in the final moments of Child Of Fire, will be released in a few months and there are also plans underway for other stories spun off from this newly created sci-fi-fantasy universe.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single movie, attempting to create a ready-made Star Wars-like series with its own internal mythology and iconography, and Child Of Fire doesn’t bear the burden well. The film is too invested in table-setting to be fully enjoyed on its own, at times feeling more like a studio presentation deck than a piece of organic storytelling.

You can't see it here, but I'm actually shooting in slow-motion.You can't see it here, but I'm actually shooting in slow-motion.

A farming community on a remote moon finds itself under the thumb of the imperial Motherworld for having sold some of its excess grain to a rebel faction. (Yes, the film’s story is largely motivated by wheat.)

A mysterious outsider, Kora (Sofia Boutella), sets off with a handsome but naive local farmer, Gunnar (Michiel Huisman), to assemble a band of fighters to defend their land.

An inevitable ragtag group comes together, played by Charlie Hunnam, Doona Bae, Djimon Hounsou, Staz Nair, Cleopatra Coleman, E. Duffy and Ray Fisher.

All the while they are pursued by Admiral Noble (Ed Skrein), a sadistic emissary of the Motherworld regime. And let’s not forget the robot soldier incongruously named Jimmy, voiced by Anthony Hopkins.

All of Death’s new apprentices had to practice their scything on wheat first.All of Death’s new apprentices had to practice their scything on wheat first.

As the characters bop from planet to planet, outpost to outpost, there is nothing particularly surprising in either the locations or their adventures.

At one point a character jumps from a desert cliff in epic slow-motion to land on a flying creature. Later in the film, a different character jumps from a space dock in epic slow-motion to land on a flying craft.

Boutella often has an otherworldly screen presence that makes her perfectly suited for this kind of material, but the fussiness of all that is happening around Kora means that the character and performance never get a chance to breathe and blossom, or to fully come to life.

Are you ready for another 10 minutes of exposition?Are you ready for another 10 minutes of exposition?

The so-called “Snyderverse” cycle of DC Comics-inspired films – Man Of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Justice League – sparked controversy for their often unrelenting grimness.

With Rebel Moon, it feels strange to see a filmmaker presumably freed from the constraints of delivering IP-driven material, only to attempt to create his own generic IP-driven universe instead.

As seen in his other movies, 300, Watchmen and Army Of The Dead, Snyder is at his best when there is a touch of hysterical madness to what he is doing, yet his edgelord impulse toward a sense of in-quotes grit and gloom rarely serves him well.

This first installment of Rebel Moon plays like the first two acts of a movie, or perhaps more truly as a haphazardly assembled series of episodes. Whether it will all come together in the second part remains to be seen, but Child Of Fire already feels like too much narrative throat-clearing. – Mark Olsen/dpa

4 10

Summary:

Feels like too much narrative throat-clearing.

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Netflix , Zack Snyder , Rebel Moon

   

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