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Film Review: REBEL MOON – PART ONE: A CHILD OF FIRE (2023) – A Science Fiction Film of Vast Wasted Potential

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Rebel Moon Part One A Child Of Fire Movie Poster

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire Review

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire (2023) Film Review, directed by Zack Snyder, and written by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Shay Hatten, stars Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Ed Skrein, Charlie Hunnam, Michiel Huisman, Doona Bae, Ray Fisher, Cleopatra Coleman, Jena Malone, Fra Fee, Staz Nair, and Anthony Hopkins.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is a science fiction film of vast wasted potential. A Child of Fire has the budget and the acting talent, but it does not have a thorough, well-thought out, and structured plot-line. This is the ultimate downfall of Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire. Like Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, the fault in Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire lies in its lackluster script. At multiple times during the movie, it’s script is nonsensical.

Unasked and Answered Questions

The plotline of Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is not just scant, and it doesn’t ask or answer basic questions.

The Plot – soldiers on a military spaceship land and demand all of a small village’s food. The spaceship leaves a detachment of aggressive, rapist soldiers, and will return in a month for the food. The detachment is wiped out (except for a survivor, the one good soldier amongst the rotten apples). Two villagers leave to recruit fighters to the defend the village against the returning military spaceship.

Here are the two logic questions to this premise that no one in the film broaches:

Question 1 – The village is faced with a enemy they can’t fight and a food demand that will starve them to death. Since they are being given a month, and the soldiers stationed on the planet are dead, why not flee, find a new home, and create a new village? The villagers don’t need fighters, they need ships, building materials, power, food, water, and a new home world (like in James S. A. Corey‘s Cibola Burn). Just disappear and live.

Question 2 – The Mother World doesn’t have to land one more soldier on the ground of the villager’s world when they return. They can just blow up the village from outer space (or use a nerve gas missile), then take all of the village’s grain, and the fertile farm land. How can fighters on the ground defend against an orbital bombardment? Also, the Mother World army is not one ship (it’s hundreds). Even if the rebels and the villagers manage to destroy the returning ship, another one will come looking for it when it goes missing. It’s a no win scenario.

If these questions had been posed and answered in Rebel Moon‘s writers room, before filming began, the resultant movie would be more realistic and rational. I have read comic books, e.g. The Walking Dead, whose plot-lines make more sense than the aforementioned plot of this film.

Flashback Scenes vs Present-day Scenes

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire contains the classic story of the “wounded” soldier running from their past. To the credit of the film’s writers, its a good trope that is reworked and made entertaining in A Child of Fire, but therein lies the problem. The backstory to Kora / Arthelais / Scargiver (Sofia Boutella) and her past are far more interesting, exciting, and enthralling than the present day story of Kora and her current rebel recruitment mission.

Amongst the film’s gaggle of problems, this particular one results in Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire‘s unbalanced storyline.

Every time the viewer sees an Arthelais flashback scene, that is the film that the viewer wants to see, that is the version of Kora they want to follow in a narrative. When they are taken back to the present day Kora, the viewer laments Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire‘s non-linear storytelling and the short-shrift the Arthelais-version of Kora is given.

Standing Around

Numerous times during Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire, characters stand around, passive and inert, as one of their companions (or someone they are trying to recruit) is engaged in a life or death situation. In one instance, a character is getting bathed (I’m not kidding) and multiple characters are standing there watching.

In another scene, Nemesis (Doona Bae) is fighting Harmada (Jena Malone), and no one assists Nemesis, the camera shifting back to various people (rebels) and their facial expressions as they do nothing (like spectators at an arena match). Why do the rebels just stand there as this violent kidnapper fights a person they are trying to recruit? It’s against their self-interests to let Nemesis die. Why don’t the rebels fight Harmada with Nemesis? It is one of the most baffling moments in the film.

Both scenes, and their ilk, are empty, visual set-pieces that don’t advance the plot of the film or give the viewer insight into the characters in a meaningful way. Character bios can be dropped in any number of ways. They didn’t have to be dropped like this. Titus (Djimon Hounsou)’s bath scene? Empty. Nemesis’ opening fight scene? Empty. The purpose of these scenes – cool visuals and/or fist-a-cuffs. Result – pointlessness and underutilized screen time.

Going for Planet to Planet

Each rebel recruit is on a different world. That idea is good on paper, bad in practice. By going from non-descript planet to non-descript planet, some, more than others, with dubious CGI quality, the narrative of Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire quickly loses momentum. This problem hurt Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (e.g. the recruitment on the casino planet) and it hurt Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire as well.

The Incomplete Universe

Before watching the film, I’d heard that the Mother World army in Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire were basically Space Nazis. After watching the film, I can confirm that this is the case. Their garb, Space Nazis. Their manner, Space Nazis. Their hair cuts, Space Nazis. And the topper, they are vile and evil and despicable to everyone, except themselves (like Xenomorphs). Who doesn’t the Mother World army victimize? It’s incomprehensible to believe that the Bloodaxes, a few dozen people, are the only rebels in a galaxy filled with continuous injustice by a patriarchy’s military.

The Aloof Bad Guy

Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) is a vapid character in an empty film. Noble has absolutely no backstory and no motivation for what he says or does, except he is in military, he sees capturing rebels as a means to more power and higher rank, and what he says goes. That’s it. He is interchangeable with any bad buy in the film and can be played by any actor or actress in the film. Noble is that generic, plain, and unmemorable.

Admiral Noble is also unconcerned with battles taking place around him, the well-fare of his men, or anything in general as explosions happen all around the admiral and an airplane crash-lands right in front of Noble and explodes. All this is of no concern to Noble. He strolls through it all, holding and twirling his stick, as if he were in a park, and the bullets flying around are mere mosquitoes bothering other people, not him – you can’t believe this until you actually see it and you are sitting there shaking your head in disbelief.

When you see this nonsense, over and over again in Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire, you ask yourself: why am I watching this film? Why am I wasting my time?

Rating: 2/10

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