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5 sci-fi and action movies like Rebel Moon you should watch

Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon has hit Netflix this week, and people are already making comparisons between it and other works of cinema. Like many other iconic films, this epic space opera draws a lot from director Akira Kurosawa’s groundbreaking film, Seven Samurai. This tale follows a village of farmers who seek the help of the titular warriors to stop a swarm of bandits from stealing their crops. Snyder’s movie takes this plot and places it within a cosmic setting, depicting a young woman who assembles fighters from across the galaxy to defend her home from the invading Motherworld.

Since Seven Samurai has inspired many of cinema’s greatest filmmakers, it’s easy to find similarities between Rebel Moon and many other classic pictures in both the action and sci-fi genres. For better or worse, Rebel Moon has left audiences wanting more, and they can remedy this by watching these five movies.

Star Wars (1977)

Han Solo leans back in "Star Wars."
20th Century Fox / 20th Century Fox

This may be low-hanging fruit here, but Rebel Moon was once pitched as a story set in the Star Wars universe, which also borrowed heavily from Seven Samurai. Though the former is now set in its own world, the basic template of a ragtag team of rebels battling against the evil Empire for the fate of the galaxy.

But as Snyder put his own style into his own film, audiences can see that George Lucas’s tale isn’t as dark and is tailored for a wider audience. And while there is a sense of awe and wonder in the almost mythical war against the Imperium, it doesn’t carry the same amount of mysticism as the elemental battle between the Jedi and the Sith.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Darkseid stands over his foe in "Zack Snyder's Justice League."
Warner Bros. Discovery / Warner Bros. Discovery

While Snyder’s two films are light years apart, Justice League tells the same story of a fallen hero seeking redemption by assembling a group of mighty warriors to defend their planet against an interstellar invasion. Similar to Rebel Moon, this comic book epic builds up a vast world with a rich mythology revolving around the armies of Earth and their ancient war with the evil god, Darkseid.

It is probably the closest a superhero film has gotten to replicating the look and feel of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, making it stand out from other members of the genre. Devoted Snyderverse fans may be upset they won’t get to see the director’s planned saga for the DC Extended Universe completed after this, but they can take solace in how he is forging his very own franchise with Rebel Moon.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

T'Challa, Captain America, and Black Widow stand in front of the Wakandan army in "Avengers: Infinity War."
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

This sprawling superhero adventure sees Earth’s Mightiest Heroes reuniting and teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to protect the universe from Thanos as he seeks the power of the Infinity Stones. Though the first Avengers film is also a lauded and influential comic book movie, Infinity War features a much darker story with heavy stakes and plenty of sacrifices, making it more in with the gritty space opera depicted in Rebel Moon.

Like Snyder, the Russo Brothers pulled out all the stops to convey the grave threat Thanos poses as he rages against the universe. Also, the way Captain America and Black Panther lead the armies of Wakanda in defending Earth from an alien army was clearly inspired by the Seven Samurai.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The cast of "Guardians of the Galaxy" walking toward the camera.
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

When Ravager Peter Quill discovers an alien orb with the power to destroy entire worlds, he and his newfound gang of intergalactic lowlifes fight to protect the planet Xandar and the whole galaxy from the alien warlord Ronan.

While Guardians of the Galaxy is also a more mature take on tales like Star Wars, James Gunn‘s film conveys a more humorous and lighthearted tone as it embraces the wackier side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite the silliness of the story, the film succeeds in blasting enough heart and soul for audiences to connect with its most unlikely band of heroes. It also doesn’t hurt that it includes many great songs courtesy of Quill’s “Awesome Mix.” For more movies like this, check out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. (You can skip Vol. 2.)

Dune (2021)

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides saluting with his knife in "Dune" (2021).
Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures

Much like Rebel Moon, Dune is only one half of a two-part cosmic epic. Both stories are set in a universe ruled by an evil “Imperium” vying for domination, and it all centers around two groups fighting over the control of a single planet. While Snyder’s film follows the regular people challenging overwhelming oppressors, Denis Villeneuve’s blockbuster centers around the royal houses battling over Arrakis.

At the same time, it focuses less on action and more on setting up its layered story and the political and existential conflict its characters face. Nevertheless, Dune still features spectacular fight scenes elevated by its dazzling choreography and jaw-dropping visual effects, and audiences should expect to see much more of this when Dune: Part 2 premieres in 2024.

Editors' Recommendations

Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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