Netflix executives, along with anyone who worked on director Zack Snyder’s new space adventure movie Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire, probably swallowed hard when the first critics’ scores for the movie hit Rotten Tomatoes. Days ahead of its debut on the streamer, the closely watched Tomatometer score for Rebel Moon stood at an appallingly bad 23%, with reviewers lambasting everything from the blatant ripoffs of movies like Star Wars and The Magnificent Seven to an overuse of slow-mo. One reviewer went so far as to pan it as a “mockbuster.”
And then, right on cue, the audience reviews started rolling in to Rotten Tomatoes once the movie hit Netflix on Thursday. And wouldn’t you know it! They told a completely different story. “Don’t listen to the critics, they are shilling for Disney,” reads one verified audience review on Rotten Tomatoes. Adds another verified audience review, “Please see this movie for yourself. It’s shot well, the action is good, and I want to know what happens next. Of course with all Zack Snyder’s movies the visual story is stunning!!”
Yes, my friends, it’s time for another installment of Zack Snyder sending critics into overweening fits of rage, nitpicking every single they can in movies that nevertheless manage to entertain viewers like me just fine.
A big caveat is in order here: No, Netflix’s Rebel Moon is not a great movie. But it’s not a great movie in the same way that the Star Wars franchise Snyder is ripping off doesn’t amount to great cinema, either. It should also come as no surprise that there’s spectacle aplenty in Rebel Moon — from the elaborate fight scenes to the uniforms that make the baddies look like SS officers. There’s even a Star Wars-style cantina scene, with all sorts of gnarly creatures from across the Rebel Moon galaxy, the difference being that it features absolutely none of the campiness of Star Wars.
Enough of that wackiness from the galaxy far, far away, if you ask me. I actually prefer the more serious vibe here. Star Wars for grownups.
Snyder, for whatever reason, seems to universally trigger critics who, I suspect, can’t stand the fact that he’s a populist moviemaker who favors spectacle (a la his movies like 300 and Watchmen) over a glowing review in The New York Times. I read a Forbes reviewer who whined about how, during a fight scene early in Rebel Moon, Kora (played by Sofia Boutella) saves a young girl from being raped by shooting and slashing all of her captors. The problem, according to the Forbes reviewer, was that there was no blood visibly spilled in the scene … I mean, you are just going out of your way to look for stuff at that point.
There’s a reason the Rebel Moon audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is so markedly different from the critics’ rating (73% vs. 23%, as of this writing). If you enjoyed Netflix films like Extraction 2 and Army of Thieves (the latter of which Snyder himself wrote), I suspect you’ll enjoy his newest movie just fine. If you didn’t, you probably won’t. It’s not that hard.