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Review of 'Rebel Moon" Parts 1 and 2

Galactic Heroes and Villains

By Paul LevinsonPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read

I saw Rebel Moon, Part 1 on Netflix this past December. I saw Rebel Moon Part 2 on Neflix this past Sunday. Here's a review of the two:

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

What's going on: There's a Nazi-like empire whose King and Queen have been assassinated, leaving those in charge intent of exterminating the rebels. The action takes place on a handful of planets strewn across space. There are robots (including one robot in particular, capable of feeling), cybernetic mixes of organic/electronic, natural beings of all shapes and sizes, and plain old-fashioned human beings including some who are more than plain.

A lot of the movie is focused on a team of heroes. The recruitment of each provides pretty good stories in themselves. My favorite was Tarak, a character who looks like a Native American, shows his prowess riding a fierce bird, reminiscent of the dragon-riders in Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, and indeed Tarak is played Staz Nair who played Qhono in Game of Thrones.

There are lots of exciting battles, and not all the heroes survive. That's always a big plus, because it keeps you on your toes. And there are other surprises as well. The two biggest are Kai turning on the rebel team. Given that he's played by Charlie Hunnam, who played such a shining hero/anti-hero in Sons of Anarchy, Kai's selling out the team as the smart move was especially jolting. No way Jax would have done that.

But the even bigger surprise was Kora. We first see her at work on a farming planet, where she soon demonstrates her martial skills. But by the time the movie is over, we're seeing on the screen one of the most effective fighters ever to take on dozens of fighters in rapid succession and sometimes at once. And we also learn at the end that Kora is actually Arthelais, daughter of the tyrannical Regent of the Empire, Balisarius (poor choice of name, too close to Belisarius, the real last great Roman general on our planet, who already provided inspiration for the name Bel Riose, the last great general of the Empire in Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Empire and appearing in the second season of Foundation on Apple TV+). But the reason that Kora/Arthelais has such prowess as a fighter is that she carefully trained a human weapon by her father.

The two hours of Rebel Moon, Part 1 went by quickly, and my only regret was that I couldn't watch the second two right there and then. But I got to see Rebel Moon, Part 2 on Netflix the other night. And I really enjoyed it. For some reason, my favorite character in the second half of this movie was the robot, JC-1435, aka James or Jimmy.

I'm not sure what that says about this second part of the movie (which, based on the ending, may well be the beginning of a series of two-part or one-part movies in a saga that now feels to me much more like Dune than Star Wars). Maybe it's the antlers on Jimmy's head. Maybe it's the voice -- you can't go wrong with Anthony Hopkins doing the voicing of anything. But all in all, James conveyed a sensitivity that's rarely seen in robots or androids in movies or TV series, and which in its own way had a subtlety that even Data in Star Trek: TNG seldom quite achieved.

The battles were good and exciting, strong edge-of-your seat stuff. The villains, however, often verged on cartoonish. The heroes had more subtlety, and maybe that's because there were more of them than the villains. I won't warn you any more about spoilers, because there won't be anything specific in the rest of this review, but I will say that this part of the movie, which I hope will be a series, concluded with fewer heroes than it had at the beginning.

Yeah, I hope we'll see more. I like looking at the state of the human species at times like these, when we've gone way out into the cosmos, and met other intelligent beings, some of them now deadly foes, others of them loyal friends. The problem with both Star Wars and Dune, and we can add Foundation to this list, is that if we've done any reading or watching, we already know who the major characters are and who they will be. Sometimes we even care about them so much, we don't like it if they're substantially changed in the new treatment (or at least, I feel that way). But Rebel Moon, even though it deals with very well worn tropes, has a winning freshness and relevance to it. The heroes in Rebel Moon, when they're not fighting Nazis, are harvesting grain. Just like they do in Ukraine.

And that's why I'm totally aboard to see more.

movie review

About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code, The Plot To Save Socrates, It's Real Life: An Alternate History of The Beatles; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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Comments (2)

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Great review!

  • Esala Gunathilake2 months ago

    You've written it nicely.

Paul LevinsonWritten by Paul Levinson

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