5 movies like 'Rebel Moon' but better

Poster of Rebel Moon
(Image credit: Netflix)

It’s an understatement to say that director Zack Snyder is a polarizing figure. His devoted fans eagerly flock to every film he makes, but responses from critics and other audience members are decidedly mixed. That’s the case again for Snyder’s new "Star Wars"-influenced sci-fi epic "Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire," which has performed well on Netflix but has been rated low by both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. 

If you were intrigued by "Rebel Moon’s" creation of a new sci-fi world away from existing franchises, and wanted to be swept up in the story of a band of misfits taking on powerful galactic forces, but found Snyder’s vision underwhelming, here are five other movies that might prove more satisfying to watch.

'The Creator'

Director Gareth Edwards made a major contribution to "Star Wars" with the standalone adventure "Rogue One," and in "The Creator," he brings that same excitement and wonder to an original story. Like "Rebel Moon," "The Creator" finds compassion for artificial life, with pervasive, heartfelt social commentary about the need for understanding and cooperation.

John David Washington plays a former military operative assigned to locate and destroy a secret weapon that turns out to be an android child. He defies his superiors and goes on the run, fighting for an end to the ongoing conflict between humans and androids. Edwards blends CGI effects into real-world locations, for a future setting that feels more immediate than anything shot in a studio. The world-building is impeccable, the visuals are quietly stunning, and the main character’s emotional arc is affecting and understated.

Watch on Hulu


Before collaborating on "Top Gun: Maverick," Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski made this underrated sci-fi movie, set on a depopulated Earth where a pair of workers are harvesting the last of the planet’s resources before it’s completely abandoned for humanity’s new home. At least that’s what Cruise’s Jack and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) think they’re doing — the truth is something far more sinister, which Oblivion reveals via exciting, suspenseful set pieces.

"Oblivion" features thrilling action scenes that could be precursors to Cruise and Kosinski’s work on "Maverick," but it’s also a complex meditation on identity, with one of Cruise’s strongest performances. Kosinski places the characters in a striking sci-fi setting, full of antiseptic interiors that contrast with the earthy remains of the planet surrounding them. It’s more tactile and more visceral than anything in "Rebel Moon."

Watch on Peacock 


The characters in "Rebel Moon" are scrappy outsiders cobbling together a living on the edge of the galaxy, but they have nothing on the protagonist of this fascinating, inventive low-budget sci-fi film. Writer-directors Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell bring a ramshackle, lived-in feel to the ships and equipment their characters use to mine the dangerous resources on a remote moon with the hope of striking it rich.

Pedro Pascal plays one such prospector, who unexpectedly ends up caring for a teenage girl ("Yellowjackets" star Sophie Thatcher) after he kills her father during a botched robbery. Earl and Caldwell depict a wary but ultimately tender relationship between the two main characters, as they resort to increasingly desperate measures to get the valuable gems they need and escape from the dangerous, inhospitable moon.

Watch on Peacock


Westerns are a major influence on "Rebel Moon," and this underrated sci-fi thriller is essentially a Western at the edge of space, featuring Sean Connery as the upstanding lawman facing off against pervasive corruption. Connery plays Marshal William T. O’Niel, who’s assigned to a remote mining colony on Jupiter’s moon Io, where he launches an investigation into the deaths of multiple miners. The corporate conglomerate that owns the mine operates it under brutal working conditions, and O’Niel’s investigation eventually places him at odds with the company.

Connery is great at playing the reluctant but determined hero, who knows that his efforts may be futile but is dedicated to doing the right thing anyway. Director Peter Hyams delivers a noir-style thriller within the grungy, broken-down futuristic setting. 

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple


Lithuanian filmmakers Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper create a post-apocalyptic world of haves and have-nots in their first English-language film, a gorgeously rendered bespoke sci-fi adventure. The design sense here puts "Rebel Moon" to shame, on just a fraction of the budget. Set on a future Earth that has been devastated by manmade ecological disasters, "Vesper" stars Raffiella Chapman as the teenage title character, who lives outside the massive citadels that protect the elite.

As in "Rebel Moon," crops are key to this world, and Vesper discovers a way to unlock the genetically engineered seeds whose programmed limitations keep the poor hungry and dependent. Buozyte and Samper immerse the audience in a mesmerizing, ethereal world, with grand mysteries just beyond the horizons of their simple, contained story.

Watch on Hulu

More from Tom's Guide

Josh Bell

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.