NOW ON NETFLIX! Things are getting mighty funky behind the sky in the first installment of director Zack Snyder’s galactic epic Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child Of Fire. A dynasty of a thousand kings has ruled a slab of space, but that is all over as the last of the bloodline was assassinated. Down on the farm on some backwater planet, Kora (Sofia Boutella) is hard at work behind a plow. Her co-worker Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) oversees the grain harvested and seems to have a sweet on her.
However, their planet is invaded by Nazi-like space tyrants who are taking over civilizations or wiping them out in the memory of the slain king. At first, the villagers believe they could cooperate with Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein), the leader of the death squad that has landed. Kora warns them that the tyrants will take and take until nothing is left, but the villagers find out the hard way. Kora goes to flee the village but is waylaid when the invaders try to trap her and another village girl in a gang rape. Soon, Kora has to travel to the worst spots of her planet and beyond to recruit a band of outcasts and outlaws that can defend her village against the deadly dreadnaught. If you think you have heard this story before, think again.
“…their planet is invaded by Nazi-like space tyrants who are taking over civilizations or wiping them out in the memory of the slain king.”
First off, know going in that I am not a Snyder absolutist. I am underwhelmed by half of his work, though I am quite overwhelmed with the other half. Watchmen never got as interesting as its opening credits, and Army Of The Dead was a dud. However, Justice League: Justice Is Gray is possibly the most beautiful black and white movie I have ever seen, and I appreciate his dark slant on the Superfriends. So, while I was curious about Rebel Moon, I also wasn’t going to forgive any missteps.
So I spent the first 40 minutes picking the s**t out of it. Everything seemed subdued and pedestrian, with the only grandeur supplied by the soaring soundtrack. Then Snyder does what Lucas did with the Cantina and whips out the monsters. Suddenly, we start to get an inkling about how far out we are going to be taken. Then, Snyder widens the scope of the visuals with each major movement. So, instead of a sprint from start to finish, the script by Snyder with Kurt Johnstad and Shay Hatten climbs a set of stairs instead, getting higher and higher into its concept. It is the perfect example of what the great critic Quentin Crisp called the crucial variety of tone.
"…the level of visual trippiness busts straight out the top of the psychedelic thermometer."