Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon Director's Cut Reveals a Troubling New Hollywood Trend

A “harder, deeper” extended cut will add over an hour of footage. But why?

Sofia Boutella as Kora and Djimon Hounsou as Titus in Rebel Moon
Clay Enos/Netflix

Zack Snyder’s films are nothing if not ambitious, but his latest collaboration with Netflix is shaping up to be his biggest yet. The director never does anything in moderation, and his foray into science fiction with Rebel Moon is a dive into the deep end. The project began as an R-rated riff on Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai set within the Star Wars galaxy, and though it proved a bit too unwieldy for Lucasfilm, that didn’t stop Snyder from bringing it to life elsewhere.

Rebel Moon retained much of its influences in its pivot to Netflix. While Snyder’s space opera now takes place in a very different galaxy, quite a few similarities to Star Wars remain. A long-lost princess, a warrior with laser swords, and a helpful robot are all present. But one aspect of Rebel Moon is decidedly Snyder: the existence of a director’s cut that will apparently add an hour of additional footage.

Back in June, Snyder confirmed that Rebel Moon will get two cuts. One is a tamer, PG-13 version that “anyone can enjoy and watch,” while the other is strictly for older audiences. The latter will also offer fans a “deeper, harder” look at the world Snyder created.

The director called his cut more of “a settle-in deep dive” in a recent interview with Tudum. “It’s a legitimate extended universe version,” Snyder said. “You really get to see a lot. It’s just more painted-in all the way.”

Snyder’s comments, while exciting for fans, reveal the shifting nature of the director’s cut. In the past, they were meant to restore the filmmaker’s original vision after lots of studio meddling. It’s what justified the existence of Snyder’s cut of Justice League, and it’s what drives his desire to rerelease his maligned girl power flick Sucker Punch with its original ending. But by that standard, does Rebel Moon actually need the same treatment?

Bae Doona and Michiel Huisman in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon.

Clay Enos/Netflix

Much of Snyder’s past work was created with studios that tried to make his vision more palatable. Rebel Moon doesn’t really fall into that category. Through Netflix, Snyder is making the film on his terms. Given his history with meddlesome producers, that’s a good development for Snyder fans. But is a director’s cut really necessary when you’re already getting all the creative freedom you could possibly want?

An extended version of Rebel Moon might actually be a detriment to Snyder’s vision. What exactly will 60 minutes of footage add to the story? In this context, a director’s cut feels more like Snyder’s excuse to save his darlings. It’s important to preserve filmmaker creativity, but an efficient story should also be a top priority. Hopefully, Rebel Moon finds a way to split the difference. Otherwise, Snyder will send the message that studios really do need to reign him in.

Rebel Moon: Part One — A Child of Fire premieres December 23 on Netflix.

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