REVIEW: Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire

Header scene for review of Rebel Moon: Part One - Child of Fire

Last Updated on December 25, 2023

In Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire, a mysterious farmer with a dark past has settled in a small frontier village. Kora is as happy as somebody like her can be, tilling the fields, celebrating the farming life wins, and just existing. Then, an Imperial warship arrives and decides to take all their grain. They have nine weeks to harvest, and then they’ll be left to starve—or, they can fight.

Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire has incredibly strong Star Wars and Warhammer 40k vibes crossed with a Magnificent Seven story arc, and if the script and delivery had of been a bit (… a fair bit, actually) better, the visuals and grit would have landed awesomely. Helmed by Zack Snyder and with a cast including Anthony Hopkins, Sofia Boutella, Ed Skrein, Charlie Hunnam, Rhian Rees, Djimon Honsou, and even Carey Elwes, the talent was certainly there to deliver an amazing script. But the script wasn’t there, nor was any form of character progression for anyone but the protagonist, and so the relatively simple, tried and tested storyline didn’t really land at all with plenty of infodumpy backstory unloads, weird stilted conversations, and visuals trying (and not always succeeding) to patch over these problems.

Not to flog a dead horse, but I need to get down to the line-by-line level here. There were just so many very weird character decisions. A warship where the armoured glass is shattered by a spear. Forgetting to turn your power swords on during single combat. The usual not killing your foes when you have the most obvious and easy chance (and probably only need the character’s head to prove you killed that person). Throwing away your weapon right when you need it. Honestly, if I write all of these down—one weird choice per sentence—it would be longer than the rest of this post.

Just to flog that dead horse a little bit longer: I think writers Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and Shay Hatten have a bit to answer for here, and Snyder as director probably has an even longer list of hard questions to work through. The three writers have worked together before and delivered much better outcomes with 300 (Snyder and Johnstad) and Army of the Dead (Snyder and Hatten) being very watchable, so I’m not sure what’s happened here. I can only hope the second movie in this duology, Rebel Moon: Part Two – The Scargiver lands better, and perhaps there is a director’s cut of Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire to deliver a better story and better secondary character progression.

Amongst my frustrations with Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire, I definitely feel there were some positives. There were some really cool action scenes (especially tbe battle scenes). The visuals at times were absolutely stunning (though, bizarrely, in a few scenes it felt like they ran out of money and used the CGI tools from Starship Troopers 2). The sets and costumes were put together brilliantly. There was some definite cool factor where for moments I could could forget about the rest. There is a feeling of a much, much larger universe out there, just waiting for us to explore it, with plenty of factions and people to invest in. And they have some actors who are are absolutely capable of delivering great stories in a way we can all invest in.

Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire is one of those sci fi movies that should have been amazing. They nailed the cool factor, had a serviceable overarching story that was simple and could have worked, had tried and tested talent from other epic SF and action movies to deliver it. However, in the end this film really stumbled in delivering a story that was good enough to carry the grit and harshness of their world. Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire should have been the beginnings of a competitor (with a 2-3 year head start) to the Warhammer Amazon world being led by Henry Cavill (latest update on that project as of December ’23, here). But in the end, it’s just exactly what I hope Cavill’s Warhamazon doesn’t turn out to be: the feel and the grit and the spectacle are there, but the soul and the heart of it are missing.

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.