Reviews of Zack Snyder‘s Netflix feature Rebel Moon Part One: A Child of Fire have landed, and prospective viewers may find their excitement for the film getting eclipsed by the rough appraisals.

The film, streaming Dec. 21, tells the story of a mysterious outsider providing hope to the denizens on a distant moon amid threats of war. With a cast that includes Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou and the voice of Anthony Hopkins, the film is the first in a two-part saga, with the follow-up entitled The Scargiver set to hit the streamer in April.

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Rebel Moon started its life a decade ago as a pitch for a Star Wars project before getting redeveloped as its own entity, and indeed, a number of the critics reviewing the film make note of the perceived similarities to the George Lucas-created franchise. Notably, streaming projects are known for succeeding without needing the sign-off of critical acclaim, suggesting a disconnect between reviews and general audience interest, particularly when it comes to subscriber sampling.

In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, chief film critic David Rooney writes of Rebel Moon, “This is a derivative crazy-quilt endeavor loaded with enough plot to plug up a black hole but only the most feebly drawn characters to do the work.”

Perhaps the harshest evisceration for Rebel Moon — currently holding a 26 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes — comes from IndieWire, which gives the movie a D- grade and dubs it Snyder’s worst film.

The Guardian gives it one out of five stars and deems it “an ugly, unforgivably dull and self-serious mess.” The Independent opts for the same star rating and calls the movie “a mess of imagery, some of it attempting to shock, congregated largely around the idea of what might look good in a trailer.”

According to the Los Angeles TimesRebel Moon “is too invested in table-setting to be fully enjoyed on its own, at times feeling more like a studio presentation deck than a piece of organic storytelling.” And Daily Beast noted that, as the first of two films, A Child of Fire is “all the more depressing for not even properly concluding its painfully shallow tale.”

And in a relatively positive 3/5 review, the U.K.’s Total Film noted, “Fans of Snyder’s heightened brand of stern, muscular filmmaking won’t be left wanting. And while the performances rarely extend beyond two-dimensional archetype, there’s still fun to be had with Charlie Hunnam’s insouciant turn as a wily pilot of the Han Solo school.”

A number of the unfavorable reviews acknowledge that the second film in the saga could help the project as a whole feel more satisfying, and Snyder himself has previously stated that he is planning for a longer director’s cut of A Child of Fire. The filmmaker is well-known for his work on existing IP, including his 2004 remake Dawn of the Dead, his adaptations of the graphic novels 300 and Watchmen, and his DC films like Justice League, which was given a four-hour director’s cut on HBO Max after a noisy fan campaign.

“The director’s cut is close to an hour of extra content, so I think it’s a legitimate extended universe version,” Snyder previously said. “You really get to see a lot. It’s just more painted-in all the way.”

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