Released in 2018 the Australian alien invasion film Occupation caught a lot of people off guard with the amount of action and the quality of the effects it produced on a low budget. Now the sequel Occupation: Rainfall is here, the success of the original allowing it the luxury of a $25,000,000 dollar budget. That’s about one-tenth of the Hollywood blockbusters it’s competing with. Can it hold its own against the competition, or is resistance to the Disney Empire futile?
Occupation: Rainfall picks up two years after the original and things aren’t going well for humanity and their alien allies. And we can see why right from the start, after running into more resistance than expected in the first film the invaders called in reinforcements. What’s left of Sydney is wiped off the map in the film’s opening minutes, but not before Matt (Dan Ewing, Red Billabong, Home and Away) and his team recover some important information.
There’s something, code-named Rainfall, at the US base at Pine Gap that could turn the tide. Matt is more than happy to go after it, he’s not so happy to have an alien, Garry (Lawrence Makoare, The Deadlands) as a partner.
Meanwhile, the rest of the resistance is heading for the military base under the Blue Mountains. But there’s trouble brewing there as Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies, The Originals, Coming Home in the Dark) is acting more and more like a third-world dictator.
If you haven’t seen the first film you may want to because Occupation: Rainfall jumps right into the action and just keeps going with little time to fill in anyone’s backstory. You can understand the plot regardless, it’s basic us versus them stuff. But knowing the returning characters and their relationships is useful at times and adds to the enjoyment.
Not that it really matters, Occupation: Rainfall is about effects and action scenes first and foremost. And it certainly delivers on that front. Director Luke Sparke and his co-writers Dale Dye and Felix Williamson have stuffed the film’s just over two-hour running time with every kind of combat you can imagine. They even manage to work in what looks suspiciously like a light sabre duel.
Apart from some bad green screen work, the effects are excellent and there are plenty of them. From spaceship versus jet fighter battles to an alien apex predator and even a couple of alien horses, there’s anything you could want from a science fiction film.
Granted that might be due to the fact the plot of Occupation: Rainfall borrows from plenty of other genre films, the Star Wars and Skyline franchises, Independence Day, V, Alien Nation and, in the look and feel of the opening scenes, the future Earth of The Terminator films.
It’s when the action and effects stop that Occupation: Rainfall has problems. The introduction of Pine Gap’s occupants US Agent Bud Miller (Ken Jeong, Boss Level, The Hangover) and pothead alien Steve (Jason Isaacs, Superman: Red Sun, Skyfire) is such a shift in tone from grim action to braindead comedy it feels badly out of place. Elsewhere much of the attempts at drama fall flat due to the lack of developed characters. In particular, the conflict between Matt and Garry is annoying rather than interesting. And Hayes is too poorly developed to seem like more than a cartoon villain rather than the Captain Rhodes-type adversary they were aiming for.
But as two hours of straight-up fun, Occupation: Rainfall hits the mark way more than it misses. It knows its strengths and plays to them nicely. And it ends with the suggestion that the Occupation saga will become a trilogy. I’m good with that.