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Divisive director Zack Snyder has never been bothered by the critics – and the backlash for his new space opera has been a bit harsh.

For every Army of the Dead, Man of Steel and his director’s cut of Justice League, there’s a Sucker Punch, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the theatrical cut of (erm) Justice League – which has left Snyder as the new ‘Michael Bay’ of this generation.

And his latest Netflix exclusive blockbuster sadly fits into the latter bunch of efforts – but definitely isn’t as bad as some quarters have said. In fact, it’s an enjoyable sci-fi yarn that once again showcases his visual flair.

The only problem is it undoubtedly borrows from so many genre classics (and not so) before it – from Star Wars and The Magnificent Seven to Dune and John Carter – that Snyder’s work relies heavily on previous fantasy tropes. Which doesn’t make it a bad movie, and it’s always eminently watchable, but feels like a glossy ‘mish-mash’ of what’s come before.

Snyder’s new fictional universe sees the tyrannical Motherworld (this film’s Empire), and its military known as Imperium – led by Ed Skrein’s (Deadpool) sadistic admiral Atticus Noble – threaten a colony on the small backwater moon of Veldt, for its resources, while searching for rebels threatening an uprising.

When a small band of soldiers are left to oversee the harvest of grain before Noble’s return in ten weeks, they are killed by seemingly quiet villager Kora (The Mummy’s Sofia Boutella) – who is in fact a high-ranking Imperium ‘deserter’ – after they attack a young girl.

After that act of defiance, it becomes a race against time to defend the village before its impending massacre, as Kora joins forces with farmer Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) to recruit warriors from neighbouring planets in an attempt to defend the homestead.

These come in the form of Han Solo-alike mercenary Kai (The Gentlemen’s Charlie Hunnam), Gladiator-alike former general Titus (Gladiator’s Djimon Hounsou), John Carter-alike warrior Tarak (Staz Nair), Alita: Battle Angel-alike cyborg swordsmaster Nemesis (Doona Bae) and X-Men: Days of Future Past’s Bishop-alike Darrian Bloodaxe (Justice League’s Ray ‘Cyborg’ Fisher).

Which is all very hastily edited together – chopping from one action sequence to the next – as the group are individually recruited via their quick-fire back stories. Almost like Snyder had a longer R-rated director’s cut in the pipeline – which of course he has. And that clearly didn’t help him in the editing room here.

This all culminates with an initial finale battle, that leads us nicely into the second part – The Scargiver – which is coming in April.

And for what it’s worth, it just about works. This isn’t Star Wars (or even Dune) by a longshot, but it’s still a big-budget space playground that is way more solid than the naysayers have made out.

Just for Snyder, who has received his fair share of negativity – this could have been bigger than the ‘moon landing’ for him had he pulled it off – and stuck ‘two fingers’ up to his critics in the process.

Sadly, he hasn’t exactly done that, but this is commendable stuff and its done ‘big numbers’ on Netflix nevertheless.

It’s just a shame that Rebel Moon has been made up of so many spare parts drifting through space – as this could have been something so much more special.


ESP Rating: 3/5


Gavin Miller


Netflix Exclusive, Out Now

Cast: Sofia Boutella, Michiel Huisman, Ed Skrein, Charlie Hunnam, Staz Nair, Doona Bae, Ray Fisher, Djimon Hounsou, Jena Malone, Cleopatra Coleman, Cary Elwes, Fra Fee, Corey Stoll & Anthony Hopkins

Running Time: 2 Hrs 15 Mins 

Director: Zack Snyder

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