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Southwest Shadow



Star Wars Knock-Off Makes You Question Why It Exists
“Rebel Moon” follows a young woman who must assemble an army to stand against a nefarious space overlord.
Rating: D
Photo Credit: Netflix

In the absence of quality Star Wars media, fans of the franchise have turned to filmmaker Zach Snyder to fill the void left in place of the once-beloved space opera. Snyder is renowned for his DCEU movies and beautiful visual direction that breathes life into almost every film he touches. Although, fans of Snyder may be disappointed to learn that “Rebel Moon Part One” is what became of an otherwise subpar Star Wars script.

Snyder’s cinematography and visual direction in “Rebel Moon” is a standout quality that manages to impress despite the handful of issues with the film. Each shot feels epic and cinematic thanks to Snyder’s unique way of posing characters and shooting scenes. The opening scene of the film immediately draws viewers in with Snyder’s grand depiction of space, only for a massive starship to drift in from a colorful portal and slowly fill the frame. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that all the beautiful visuals in the film are often dragged down by the mediocre color grading. The color palette of “Rebel Moon” is bland and uninspired, reminiscent of Zach’s DC universe films.

The direction and development of main characters like Kora and Kai feel extremely vague. Kora’s mysterious backstory is revealed in a way that feels incomplete, simultaneously failing to believably depict Kora as a skillful combatant using the time her backstory is given. Unfortunately, the audience is not given a reason to care. Snyder likely chose to reveal pieces of Kora’s backstory the way he did to set up for the sequel. However, it seems counterproductive to spend film time preparing for a sequel if the first movie isn’t interesting. Telling an incomplete story that bets on a sequel is a big gamble, as it relies on the first film being commercially successful and a sequel getting approved for development.

The script of “Rebel Moon” was originally pitched by Snyder to Lucasfilm right around the time George Lucas sold the company to Disney. The “inspirations” taken from the Star Wars franchise are very apparent in the film, specifically with how the world-building seems to be almost identical to any other galaxy-sprawling film discretely “borrowing” ideas from the Star Wars franchise.

The movie’s pacing is generally consistent, but how the story is told leaves significant scenes and information missing. The progression of the plot inevitably ends up leaving important details of the plot behind ignoring the fact that the script leaves plenty of room for simple details that could easily patch bothersome holes in the story. The film’s first half revolves around Kora gathering up the rebels to rally an army to stand up against the villainous Regent Balisarius. As the movie goes on they eventually run into the creatively named Commander Bloodaxe, and in the following scene, he gives a big speech asking the rebels to join him. The rebels are not given any reason to trust Captain Bloodaxe up until this point, so the scene ends up feeling forced and unbelievable, as the rebels end up trusting and allying with a man they only just met.

“Rebel Moon” displays a distinct disregard for the phrase “show don’t tell.” Throughout the movie, the narrator, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, explains every single minute detail of the story rather than leaving room for the audience to infer information about it themselves. The issue with the story is not the fact that it has a narrator, but rather the fact that the movie is summarized for you as you watch it. The audience is treated condescendingly and Snyder not-so-covertly reveals his underestimation of the viewers’ intelligence. A majority of storytelling scenes are immediately followed by massive dumps of information that were quite literally just shown. 

“Rebel Moon” is an almost entirely creatively bankrupt rehash of any generic space opera film with massive flaws in a majority of aspects of the movie that completely bring down any salvageable enjoyment left in the film. Snyder’s signature style of filmmaking is washed away by abysmal color grading that leaves every shot of the film looking exactly the same. The story is muddled and the audience’s intelligence feels greatly underestimated and character motivation lacks any depth and the dialogue in the movie is unbearable to ironically hilarious at best. “Rebel Moon” is not only a flawed movie, but an incomplete movie, and it makes you wonder if Snyder should have never picked the script back up after its initial rejection and moved on to something better.

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