If you’ve watched Star Wars or The Lord of The Rings (who hasn’t?) you’ve basically already seen Zack Snyder’s embarrassingly derivative space opera Rebel Moon. Snyder has stated he was initially inspired by George Lucas’ films and Akira Kurosawa but this plays out like fanfiction. Snyder has amassed a gorgeous ensemble cast with Sofia Boutella in her first lead role as a woman on a mission to assemble a gang of warriors to defeat an evil dictatorship and Ed Skrein as the leader of the brutal army.
Part One in a planned trilogy (the second film is already lined up for release in April) is a ‘getting the gang together’ narrative. All the characters are introduced in a ploddingly tedious style, with cringing nods to sci-fi and fantasy classics – it’s like a ‘Where’s Wally?’ cornucopia of multiple, relentless references which will have you holding your head in despair.
Michiel Huisman plays an innocent farmer who tags along with Boutella’s Kora and they are joined by Djimon Hounsou, Doona Bae (who looks very cool in a wickedly large hat), Staz Nair, Ray Fisher and E. Duffy in their quest. Charlie Hunnam turns up too adding a Northern Irish(?) accent to a bounty of many perplexing accents – but maybe that will all be explained in later films. Anthony Hopkins throws his charming accent into the pot, too, as narrator and sentient robot. The film sets up many narrative threads and introduces so many characters to the point that much of the dialogue is simply just exposition.
Thematically, AI, colonisation and the environment are presented but not in any original way. Visually fans of Snyder may be endeared by his many slo-mo sequences and wide-shots of vast planets but his hackneyed approach to a dark and violent space opera means he forsakes any charm, flair or humour.
Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire premieres on Netflix on 22 December