credit: Netflix

Rebel Moon (2023) **

Plodding, static, and so derivative that Zack Snyder rips himself off repeatedly, Rebel Moon is a glorious piece of garbage fine-tuned to please the director’s boner for shredded people moving in slow motion. There can be no doubt Zack Snyder gets extremely bonerific over sexy hot fascism; it’s basically the elevator pitch for 300. The nice part here is that he seems to realize fascism is actually problematic while giving himself a boner about it. That wasn’t obvious watching 300. I’m pretty sure we call that personal growth!

Notoriously, Rebel Moon was supposed to be a Star Wars movie, but that didn’t work out for reasons I can’t possibly imagine. Netflix decided to let Zack Snyder have at it anyway. They gave him a budget and let him loose. I feel like saying “let loose” gives too lofty an impression of this flick’s aspirations. Snyder’s idea of creative liberation is to liberally rip off visuals and vibes from every other SFF property under the sun, including his own. I honestly can’t tell you how it all feels like ripping off instead of homages or well-worn tropes. It’s really like looking at a mosaic of formative cinema moments that gave teenage Zack Snyder a boner, peppered in with a few fascist bondage machines.

It feels mostly like Star Wars. The spirit is in the right place: little guys deserve not to be brutalized by the big fascist empire. Okay. We’ve given the traditional Hero Cycle to a woman, whose extraordinary power is self-awareness so she can monologue exposition like, “I’m a war orphan. I don’t feel like I deserve love.” Not a direct quote, mind you. It takes a few pages of script to get the same point across.

Sofia Boutella gets a SFF bingo by appearing in a Star Wars-like property, having already earned nerd boners through an excellent performance in my favorite of the NuTrek movies, the James Bond-like Kingsman property, and Tom Cruise’s inferior version of The Mummy. Honestly, someone give this woman a good screenplay. She’s so hot and she deserves it. Her earnest attempts to redeem Snyder & Co’s clunky dialogue is worth a slow clap. Imagine what she could do with real material.

Boutella’s Fascist Dyke haircut runs away with the movie. Every time they flash back to her Vico Ortiz-like undercut, I am reduced to zoo animal sounds.

Djimon Hounsou shows up as General Titus, the Tit-tastic Chunk of Rippling Man Meat who has gotten ripped as hell in his gray years. Zack Snyder said “I need Daddy Hotness” and Hounsou ripped off his shirt to soar to his rescue. I didn’t even recognize him at first because he’s so tanked and dusty in this movie. But once they oil him up, I’m like, omg it’s Djimon Hounsou. I want to motorboat his mitties.

Speaking of motorboatable mitties, this was my introduction to Staz Nair, whose primary role in Rebel Moon was featuring in the James Cameron’s Avatar portion. He befriends a hippogriff named Buckbeak in order to prove he shouldn’t be enslaved on Tattooine anymore, and flies away to have an exciting, tribally coded adventure connecting him with Buckbeak. The sequence concluded with Buckbeak slaughtering the slaver, so like I said, Snyder’s heart is in the right boner. I mean, right place. Did I mention Staz Nair earns a shirt with his freedom, but actually it’s some blanket thing he tosses around his shoulders to ensure his nipples always have a view of the action? C’mon Zack Snyder, we all see what you’re doing.

Meanwhile, Michiel Huisman is not Diego Luna from Rogue One; Ed Skrein in Nazi gear is not Domnhall Gleeson as Hux. The little town of horny Irish people is not on Tattooine. All the slow motion action scene jumps aren’t revisiting the glistening mantitties of 300. That spider lady is not a Drow. The scrappy team does not travel to the Prancing Pony. Hux’s rebirth is not The Matrix. Anthony Hopkins is not an assassin droid from The Mandalorian doing a Scavenger’s Reign subplot. The climactic battle on the floating structures is neither the end of Emperor Strikes Back nor the end of Disney’s Atlantis. Charlie Hunnam is not signing up for a two-movie contract. Etcetera.

It’s kind of a disaster of overlong clunky dialogue that actors *try* to make work, and when we all realize that it won’t, it can’t, it never will, you just have to sit back and muse on how many opportunities Zack Snyder created for a bunch of really hot people to be in sexy action/sexy torture situations. And then you have to love the bad aging makeup for the villain at the end. You have to! If you don’t love it, you don’t love fun. I bet you don’t even like it in k-dramas where they flash back to high school and put fully adult actors in a wig and school uniform.

I hope my tone makes it clear that I enjoyed the hell out of this, and I think it’s the kind of bad where it loops around to good and then back to bad, where it remains, simply terribly *bad*. My sibling and I had so much fun yelling at the movie. My husband felt like his time was *so* very wasted. I noticed in the trailer for the second movie that the Fascist Dyke Haircut is coming back so I’m definitely planning on watching it.

(image credit: Netflix)

Leave a Reply