Rebel Moon Review: Zack Snyder Returns to Sci-Fi Roots with Visually Stunning yet Hollow ‘Rebel Moon’

Rebel Moon Review

Zack Snyder has built a divisive but diehard fanbase through his unique directorial style that emphasizes mesmerizing visuals over narrative substance. His latest project, the Netflix sci-fi epic “Rebel Moon,” delivers the eye-popping intergalactic action his core audience craves. However, beneath the dazzling CGI battles lies an emotionally vacant story that fails to match the ambition of its visual splendor.

In this unfocused Star Wars clone, a mysterious warrior woman named Kora (Sofia Boutella) travels to a remote colony on the edge of the galaxy seeking shelter. When an army led by the tyrannical Balisarius (Ed Skrein) attacks and kills most villagers, Kora taps into supernatural powers and decimates the regiments. Impressed by her show of force, the Elders reveal Kora was sent to them as a child to fulfill a prophecy and protect colonies across the system from Balisarius’ invading armies.

Kora reluctantly takes up the task, uniting a ragtag band of misfits training to become the inaugural soldiers of the newly formed “Rebel Moon.”

Kora rebel moon

Snyder co-wrote the screenplay with Army of the Dead collaborators Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad. Their script checks obligatory boxes, peppering moments of hammy dialogue between bombastic but strangely low-stakes action. Without meaningful character development or emotional stakes in the paper-thin plot, Rebel Moon feels less like a sweeping space opera and more like a mandated prerequisite for additional sequels.

Fortunately, compelling world-building and mesmerizing visual effects tie together the disjointed storytelling. Rebel Moon introduces various colonies populated with imaginative creatures and technologies using expert CGI.

Snyder’s caracteristic speed-ramping action also returns. In the opening attack sequence, Kora single-handedly obliterates legions of enemies with blazing eyes and magical daggers, moving at normal speed while enemies float through the air in slow motion. It’s nonsensical but Snyder’s signature style nonetheless places visual marvel ahead of realism.

rebel moon scene

As Kora, Sofia Boutella brings physicality well-suited for action sequences yet lacks complexity in dramatic moments. Her mysterious protagonist remains an enigma given superficial backstory. More dimensional work comes from Corey Stoll as the blustering, skeptical Elder Tito and Cary Elwes as the sniveling, opportunistic Governor Tucker.

Squad members like the tech-savvy Tru Valentino (Charlotte Maggi) and hulking strongman Piguar (Sky Wuyts) draw obligatory laughs between violence.

Djimon Hounsou brings gravitas to his limited screentime as General Titus, though his moving reunion with Kora plants narrative seeds left unfilled. The underutilization of Hounsou and other supporting players spotlights Snyder’s disinterest in meaningful relationships. Rebel Moon assembles characters as narrative devices over fully-realized personas. It undermines the triumphant third act battle when victory carries no emotional weight.

While Rebel Moon checks boxes as a Star Wars imitation dressed in Snyder’s trademark visuals, it offers nothing narratively compelling or innovative for general audiences. But Snyder’s films have never catered to mainstream tastes. His ravenous fandom will surely revel in the neon-drenched battles across galactic colonies and receive confirmation of their devotion.

Yet beyond mesmerizing action, Rebel Moon lacks substance to become the next cinematic universe it desperately wants to be. Diehard Snyder fans have already declared their allegiance. For everyone else, the hollowness behind Rebel Moon’s dazzling style simply reflects Snyder’s limitations as a visual architect over master storyteller.