The first of two planned entries in a new franchise for Netflix makes for an accomplished visual spectacle, but the characters and scenarios are more predictable than likely intended.
Much about Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire feels pulled directly out of the Star Wars universe. Technical innovations have improved the way new worlds can be brought to life in sci-fi and fantasy forays, and Rebel Moon packs some impressive sequences, costuming, effects, and general visual experiences.
The problem comes more from the feeling that for all its technical prowess, the story lacks soul. You've seen it all before. Of course, the reality of franchise-driven Hollywood is that many audiences desire familiarity and predictability.
Rather than the more mythical journeys of its obvious inspirations, like the Skywalkers or Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, Rebel Moon pulls its otherworldly characters down to our level and motivates them by basic human interests like childhood traumas, absentee families, and sexual desire.
This certainly makes them easy to understand, but it also feels a little humdrum and less epic than the invented worlds and mega-production suggest. There's something very outdated as well in video game-inspired fight scenes and especially the macho posturing of soldiers, including attempted sexual aggressions.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media
Images courtesy of Netflix