Whether you love or hate him, no one can deny that Zack Snyder always goes big. His director’s cut of Batman V Superman ran three hours, while his complete vision of Justice League clocked in at four. Both movies had huge, sprawling stories and big personalities and were teeming with grim visuals and special effects. Snyder is an ambitious filmmaker with a brevity problem, but overall he makes an entertaining movie.
Snyder’s follow-up to the sprawling opus of Justice League and his zombie romp Army of the Dead is Rebel Moon. The film is described in short as an “epic space opera,” not dissimilar to the label of a certain galaxy far, far away. So Snyder goes Star Wars; it should be interesting. In fact, the story was originally Snyder’s Star Wars pitch way back before George Lucas parted with the property. We’re talking prequel days, but the story was deemed too dark to fit into that particular galaxy. Revenge of the Sith is far from a feel-good, good guys win fair, so Snyder’s new universe must be pitch black. A Netflix production, Rebel Moon does boast an impressive ensemble cast of notable actors and actresses.
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Rebel Moon: The Plot
The story behind Rebel Moon is a familiar sci-fi/action backdrop. The official synopsis:
“A peaceful colony on the edge of the galaxy is threatened by the armies of a tyrannical regent named Balisarius. The desperate civilians dispatch a young woman who has a mysterious past to seek out warriors from nearby planets to help them challenge the regent.”
Digging deeper into the story, our protagonist colony consists mostly of farmers just going about their lives. The marauding (AHEM) empire swoops through their atmosphere, lands, and demands the farmers donate their crops to their forces. This prompts the colonists to seek hired guns to fend off their invaders. We’re assuming we’ll get a motley crew of misfits, warriors, and mercenaries coming to save the day.
The storyline is the brainchild of Snyder himself. He and writing partner Kurt Johnstad fleshed out the script along with writer Shay Hatten. On Philadelphia’s The Preston and Steve Show, Snyder described the action as follows:
“I’m just really excited about doing some sci-fi battle, ‘Endor’ action sequences. I’ve never really done that, so it was really fun to sort of dive into that with both feet. Also it’s really fun to imagine these worlds, and kind of build out this brand-new mythology – brand-new and fresh cultures and planets and everything.”
It’s hard to imagine what was literally a Star Wars movie breaking any new ground, but Snyder does have his own unique brand of spectacle, so Rebel Moon could end up surprising the sci-fi cynics.
Rebel Moon: The Cast
Zack Snyder drew in an impressive cast for Rebel Moon, replete with some big names. The film centers around a woman named Kora, who is at the forefront of the pending rebellion. Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities) will portray the lead, with an excellent supporting cast behind her. This includes Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim), Ed Skrein (Deadpool) as Balisarius, Ray Fisher (Justice League) as Blood Axe, Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy) as General Titus, Jena Malone, and others. Oh, and one Anthony Hopkins is lending his voice as sentient war robot JC1435.
Snyder has gathered an ensemble to be reckoned with in his effort to bring his vision to life. If nothing else, Snyder is great at picking the right actors and actresses for his roles. He nailed his titular team in Justice League, so between this knack for casting and the names themselves, Rebel Moon has promise.
From its basic description, Rebel Moon sounds like it will have an intense post-production slog of special effects and editing. Taking this marathon into account, the hopeful release date has been narrowed down to sometime in 2023, but we could have to wait until 2024 for its Netflix and limited theater releases.
Everything Else We Know
Zack Snyder and Netflix have high hopes and big plans for the world-building potential of Rebel Moon. Snyder filmed Rebel Moon and its sequel, Rebel Moon Part 2, back-to-back, with principal photography of both films wrapping in November 2022. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Snyder said:
“This is me growing up as an Akira Kurosawa fan, a Star Wars fan. It’s my love of sci-fi and a giant adventure. My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out.”
Akira Kurosawa was a legendary Japanese director who, over a fifty-year career, brought us classics such as Rashomon, Yojimbo, and the landmark Seven Samurai. George Lucas named him a massive influence in his creation of Star Wars, so Kurosawa’s legend is still being woven into films created nearly thirty years after his death.
With Snyder’s well-tuned chops for dreary and dark visual exhibition and an all-star cast, Rebel Moon could be a big moment for sci-fi in its own right.