Rebel Moon Movies' Bad Reviews Explained: 5 Biggest Criticisms (Why It's So Bad)

By Nathan Johnson Posted:
Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon

Zack Snyder's Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver was finally released on Netflix and many critics think that it is just as bad, if not worse, than the first film.

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire debuted on Netflix on December 15, 2023, with Part Two: The Scargiver following on April 19.

Both movies received extremely bad reviews from both critics and fans (Part One currently holds a 21% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes with Part Two being even lower at 15%), with many being able to point out the exact criticisms that ultimately hurt them.

Why Both Rebel Moon Films Are So Bad (According to Critics)

Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon Part Two

Since both Rebel Moon movies are available to stream on Netflix, audiences have easy access to view them both.

When Part One was released, critics destroyed and picked apart every facet of the film. However, the criticisms got even worse after Part Two followed.

So, when looking at both Part One: A Child of Fire and Part Two: The Scargiver together, here are the biggest criticisms of why they are so bad:

Too Much Exposition

Exposition can be a good thing, a great thing even, in film and television (see Game of Thrones' early seasons), but many felt as though Rebel Moon included way too much, which ultimately caused the films to suffer.

It would be understandable for A Child of Fire to feature a lot of exposition seeing as how it introduced the world, characters, and conflict, but critics even thought it relied too heavily on the buildup.

Forbes Senior Contributor Erik Kain reviewed Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire when it was first released, calling the film's exposition "long," causing many characters to "get a little lost:"

"Still, I like them for the most part. I like Sofia Boutella’s Kora (I almost titled this review, The Legend Of Kora) though I wish Snyder had picked better ways to reveal her past to us than long exposition-laden flashbacks. Charlie Hunnam’s Kai was a lot of fun, though he—like all the others—gets a little lost in the mix of introducing so many characters in so short a span."

As Kain stated, Part One includes a lot of flashback sequences. Once again, flashbacks are not necessarily bad when done correctly and in moderation, but it seemed as though Snyder relied on them almost exclusively to inform the audience of different characters' backstories.

Many would expect Part Two: The Scargiver to include much less exposition seeing as how it is an entirely new film and should focus on the events of Part One, but many continued to point to exposition as being one of the biggest criticisms of Part Two

Another criticism of Part Two is not just the exposition, but how it was brought about. Like Part One, Part Two also heavily utilized flashbacks to tell the audience of certain backstories rather than through interesting dialogue.

IGN reviewed Part Two when it first hit Netflix, noting the overabundance of exposition in the film.

In the review, it was stated that the "early scenes" of The Scargiver "feel like filler" due to the flashbacks, making the overall product have a stale pace and causing the relationships to not be "deepened:"

"If these early scenes feel like filler, it’s because their abundance of flashbacks is a lethargic attempt at providing backstory and character insight that hinders the pace and rarely deepens any of the relationships. Take an early post-coital exposition dump from Kora (Sofia Boutella). As she lies in the arms of her farmer lover Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) she reveals the role she played during the assassination of the royal family."

IGN went deeper to explain why this particular scene between Kora and Gunnar didn't work, further reinforcing the idea that the flashbacks and "voiceover" were much less interesting than "natural dialogue between the characters:"

"It's somewhat hilarious to hear a string quartet furiously playing while a brutal murder takes place on screen, but it's an otherwise predictable scene that relies on a voiceover to tell us about a threat to the Imperium war machine rather than conveying it through natural dialogue between the characters."

Empire Magazine also touched on the exposition of Part Two, specifically noting that, if Snyder was going to include a lot of it in the film, he should have had it focus on new aspects of interesting characters rather than "a whole info-dumping scene where" certain characters "monologue about their pasts:"

"But rather than thread some fresh insights about General Titus (Djimon Hounsou, laden with the film’s clunkiest dialogue), or the cool-but-hollow Nemesis (Bae Doona), or that one with the black stripe on their face (Elise Duffy), we’re instead given a whole info-dumping scene where they sit around a table and take turns to monologue about their pasts."

So, it seems as though many critics gave both Part One and Part Two bad reviews partly due to how much exposition they had, as well as how it was brought on.

Weak Character Work

When it comes to character work, the Rebel Moon films could not be more different from one another, with Part One including almost no development and Part Two being nearly entirely focused on them.

However, according to critics, they are equally as bad for those reasons.

For example, The Playlist stated during a review of Part One that it had "generic characters" who were entirely uninteresting:

"It’s full of huge, swelling grandiosity, and yet it’s all puffed up for nothing because it failed to connect you to its generic characters in its first attempt. All it can do is double down and hope for the best."

As previously stated, Part Two did include a lot of character work that tried to connect the audience to the people on-screen, but according to Mashable, it felt forced into the film:

"Bizarrely, the character development that critics begged for in 'Part One' is wedged into 'Part Two' ahead of this climactic confrontation."

It is also important to mention that many critics felt as though character work is not something Snyder excels at, making his efforts in Part Two to include a more character-driven story fall short.

For example, Gizmodo claimed that, since Snyder is not good with character development and fleshing his creations out, it caused "awkward" pacing, scenes to "drag," and the film overall to "miss the mark" emotionally:

"A downside to this more character-focused, insular story is that it’s not Snyder’s forte. So, while he’s doing the right things in theory, it doesn’t always work practically. Scenes drag. Pacing gets awkward leading to disconnection. And, ultimately, the valiant attempts at eliciting emotion largely miss the mark."

Gizmodo's review also pointed out that when Snyder does try to incorporate character development, it falls flat because of his use of slow-motion and flashbacks:

"For example, scenes of farming are oddly told with dynamic slow motion usually reserved for action, totally taking you out of the moment. A crucial scene between our heroes gets overly repetitive and frustratingly bloated when every single character gets their own flashback, told one after the other."

Overall, the review stated that Snyder's attempts "feel closer to a checklist of obligations than dramatic development:"

"Each scene tells us something about the story, but the methods employed feel closer to a checklist of obligations than dramatic development, almost as if we’re just killing time waiting for that final battle. 'The Scargiver' certainly does its best to connect the characters with the audience, but it never quite gets there."

Overabundant Slow-Motion

A lot of Zack Snyder's films can be easily identifiable by certain features, but none scream his name more than way more slow-motion than is needed.

As expected, Snyder used slow-motion any chance he got in both Rebel Moon films, no matter if it was an action scene where it could be justified or just a simple farming scene.

To put it simply, there is slow-motion everywhere, and critics are not happy about that.

For example, The Independent reviewed Part Two and made its opinion on Snyder's use of slow-motion extremely clear, stating that a "wheat harvesting montage," a "training montage," and other scenes that have no business including the special effects are present:

"The rest of the plot goes exactly like this: slow-motion wheat harvesting montage; slow-motion training montage; group therapy session in which everybody revisits their trauma in slow-motion flashbacks. Finally, we get a battle sequence – with lots of slow motion, of course."

The Hollywood Reporter took its criticisms a bit further, harshly claiming that Part Two "would be a short" if it did not have so much slow-motion:

"It’s hard to tell, however, since Snyder employs so much of his trademark slow-motion that you get the feeling the movie would be a short if delivered at normal speed."

Inverse's review of Part Two called the film "excruciating" due to how much slow-motion was used in it, particularly pointing out how Snyder made it a point to even use the effect to show farmers cutting wheat:

"Snyder also places way too much emphasis on utterly trivial aesthetics, like the harvest on Veldt. He dedicates dozens of tedious, slow-motion shots to the cutting, gathering, and milling of wheat (yes, really). It’s excruciating, especially when you think about all that was cut to retain these sequences at all."

Littered With Sci-fi Tropes

Nearly every film pays homage to its respective genre by including some popular tropes that are often associated with said genre.

For example, fantasy projects often include the tropes of the chosen one, a dark lord, and some sort of major final battle between two parties.

Both Rebel Moon movies include tropes of their own that are popular throughout sci-fi flicks. The downside, however, is that they include entirely too much to the point where critics think it is almost satirical.

Part One seemed to include more of these tropes than Part Two, with many claiming that it almost exclusively borrowed from other (and better) sci-fi projects.

In a review of Part Two from Variety, it was said that the film borrowed from many incredibly popular movies throughout sci-fi history such as Star Wars and Seven Samurai. At one point, it even called the movie "The Lord of the Guardians of the Rings of the Galaxy:"

"Zack Snyder’s 'Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver,' like his 'Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire,' is a sci-fi action fantasy so familiar and generic, so borrowed from and inspired by other things — it’s the 1977 'Star Wars' meets 'Seven Samurai' meets 'The Lord of the Guardians of the Rings of the Galaxy' — that it’s already the theme-park version of itself."

When Variety reviewed the first Rebel Moon flick, it had the same criticism. Saying that it is "based on about twelve things" and that it includes "overfamiliar tropes:"

"'Rebel Moon' isn’t based on anything; it’s a complete original. Yet in another sense it’s based on about twelve things. It’s 'Stars Wars' meets 'Guardians of the Galaxy' meets 'The Lord of the Rings' meets 'Black Panther,' all smelted down and reduced to a highly edible sauce of overfamiliar tropes, minus any semblance of a sense of humor."

That review then alleged that Rebel Moon's main character, Kora, is "like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia all rolled into one:"

"Movies this derivative, in my view, are inherently uncool, but you could argue that what’s almost cool about 'Rebel Moon' is that it’s so unabashedly a gloss on the 1977 'Star Wars' and no other 'Star Wars' movie. It’s got a proudly basic rebels-vs.-the-evil-empire plot, with rubber-faced creatures and a noble stoked-with-moxie Zen fighter heroine, Kora (Sofia Boutella), who’s like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia all rolled into one."

Better Cuts Are On the Way

With the release of both Rebel Moon movies, Zack Snyder also confirmed that fans can expect to see extended, R-rated cuts of them both.

Not only has Snyder promised that extended cuts are on the way, but also that they will be better than the original versions of the films.

Snyder stated in 2023 that the extended cuts are "more painted-in all the way" and offer more of a "deep dive" into the films as a whole:

"The director’s cut is close to an hour of extra content, so I think it’s a legitimate extended universe version. You really get to see a lot. It’s just more painted-in all the way. The director’s [cut] is a settle-in deep dive, which I have notoriously done throughout my career."

This confirmation is yet another criticism that many believe makes Rebel Moon more puzzling.

If there are other cuts that are better than what was released, why not just release those in the first place?

The Independent stated that it seems as though Snyder "[forcing] you to consume more content" is "blackmail:"

"Of course, Snyder may argue that this is all covered in some spin-off book, comic, or video game. Or maybe in the six-hour cut. But what fun is a film that tries to force you to consume more content? That’s not art. That’s blackmail."

The Hollywood Reporter also echoed this criticism, saying that the already released cuts clearly "don't have [Snyder's] full endorsement:"

"Snyder provides an ample display of the visual flair and skill for action that have endeared him to legions of fans who exhibit so much dedication that they’re willing to sit through numerous versions of his films. As is the case with these two, for which Snyder has announced he’ll soon be providing R-rated director’s cuts running some three hours each. Which makes one wonder: Why bother to watch these versions that clearly don’t have his full endorsement?"

The Wrap pointed out in its review that the versions that are currently on Netflix are "the only versions we have right now," and that, even if Snyder releases better cuts, they will not "make these versions any better:"

"Perhaps the saddest thing about these 'Rebel Moon' movies is that we already know there are longer director’s cuts coming, and some of these issues could be fixed in those versions, like many were with Snyder’s 'Justice League.' In any case, even if a superior version of 'Rebel Moon' does come out eventually, that doesn’t make these versions any better, and they’re the only versions we have right now."

So, since better, deeper, and more fleshed-out versions will be released soon, many critics don't understand why the audience should watch the standard cuts that have already been released.

Rebel Moon - Part One: A Child of Fire and Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver are available to stream on Netflix.

Read more about Rebel Moon:

Rebel Moon Part 2 Star Sofia Boutella Teases Kora's New Romance (Exclusive)

Sofia Boutella Reveals 1 Problem She Had With Her Rebel Moon Character

Rebel Moon Actor Reveals 1 Big Problem With the PG-13 Cut Now on Netflix

Full Cast of Rebel Moon - Every Main Actor & Character Who Appears (Photos)

- In This Article: Rebel Moon
Release Date
December 22, 2023
Anthony Hopkins
Charlie Hunnam
Djimon Hounsou
Sofia Boutella
- About The Author: Nathan Johnson
Nathan is a writer at The Direct where he covers Star Wars, the MCU, and DC news. He joined The Direct in April 2021 and currently writes news and feature articles about all three brands mentioned above, but his main specialty is his knowledge about anything and everything Star Wars.