Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon Might Be More Star Wars Than He Realises

Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon Might Be More Star Wars Than He Realises

In the early 2010s, not long after Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder met with Lucasfilm to pitch a stand-alone Star Wars movie to be directed by him. The partnership didn’t work out, but a decade later, Netflix embraced the idea with open arms, a sizable budget, and the option to turn Rebel Moon into two movies. But the bones of Star Wars, like the rusting remains of an AT-AT, still remain inside. The question is, how much does Snyder realise they’re still there?

In a sprawling look at the film over at Vanity Fair, Snyder and his partner/producer Deborah Snyder discuss the film in detail, starting with its most basic premise: a bunch of ragtag rebels (on a moon) rise up against a giant, evil Empire (here called the Imperium, which is Latin for… empire). It’s obviously just a touch familiar, but I don’t think it’s anything to give Snyder shade for; about 90 per cent of all sci-fantasy stories seem to be about rebels who fight powerful, evil governments.

What I think we can poke fun at, however, is Snyder’s explanation of what makes the galaxy of Rebel Moon so unique compared to Star Wars:

[Snyder] feels that constructing his worlds in real life makes the otherworldly feel more immersive. “This movie was me going, ‘Of course it’s a space opera, but let’s not lens it that way. Let’s lens it in a more intimate way, so that the sci-fi elements feel more grounded.’ We’re not always saying, ‘Look at how big our spaceships are or how weird our planets look!’ That happens, but it happens as an organic part of the world you’re in. You’re there, and so the things you see on that journey are not forced upon you or spoon-fed to you.”

Obviously, part of the huge draw of the Star Wars franchise has been how it’s been able to take the trappings of a space opera and reframe them through a grounded lens — where things are used, they feel lived-in and real, where the crazy aliens and planets and technology feels organic and natural to the setting. But let’s hear Snyder describe one of the Imperium’s ships…

One such starship that looms large in Rebel Moon is The King’s Gaze. “That ship is a world destroyer. There’s, like, 8,000 soldiers on that ship. They’ve got, like, 200 dropships and 100 tanks, and it has this huge boom-boom howitzer,” Snyder says. “It could raze the surface of a planet. If they just fired on a planet for three days straight, there’d be nothing left. They do that a lot.”

Hmm. A “world” destroyer, you say. Well, at least the Imperium probably isn’t made up of Space Nazis —

Photo: Clay Enos/Netflix
Photo: Clay Enos/Netflix

— oh. That’s Deadpool’s Ed Skrein as the Imperium’s Admiral Noble, a cruel villain without any redeeming features or vestiges of humanity. Well, at least there don’t seem to be any lightsabe —

Another member with an axe to grind actually wields two flaming swords. South Korean actor Doona Bae plays Nemesis, a swordmaster who is partly mechanical. “These swords are powered by the gauntlets that she holds. The gauntlets are these ancient [artifacts] from her home world, and part of the rite of passage of being a warrior in her world is you have to cut your arm off, and then you put these kind of robot arms on. That allows you to wield these molten-metal blades,” Snyder says.

Well, hell.

I kid, I kid! Look, it’s not like Star Wars movies have had a great track record recently, and even a pastiche of one could go down smooth right about now. Plus, Snyder has many more original ideas littering Rebel Moon, like the Imperium’s terrifying Scribes:

“Their purpose is, they write down information,” Snyder says. But instead of text, they use living human beings as their paper and implant memories and images into them… You are put in stasis if you’re a page, and your body just becomes like a hard drive. The Scribes have the ability to transfer what they see, [but they’re] manipulated by politics, and they write down only what they’re supposed to.”

Fun! Besides, the biggest inspiration for Rebel Moon clearly isn’t Star Wars, but Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai, where a band of ragtag samurai come together to defend a small farming village from an overwhelming force of bandits. They’re been talk of a Seven Samurai-inspired Star Wars movie proper for more than a decade; now it sounds like we’re getting one, we just don’t have to see Jedi run around and be bad people while we watch it.

For more on Rebel Moon, and its myriad characters, head over to Vanity Fair for more. As for the movie itself, it arrives on Netflix on December 22, presumably in a manner that is not hyperspace travel but not entirely unakin to it, either.

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