Occupation: Rainfall review
Not every sci-fi sequel can be Aliens. Occupation: Rainfall is the disappointing follow-up to the entertaining 2018 film, Occupation.
It continues the saga of Earth being invaded by an alien race that want the planet for themselves. That means wiping out the pesky current occupants. In a change of pace from the norm on these films, the focus is on Australia and not America.
Director/Writer Luke Sparke hit the right notes with the first installment. Occupation didn’t rush to get to the invasion. Even in the midst of chaotic action, it was more character-driven.
Armed with a bigger budget, Sparke trades too much of the character development for action sequences both on land and air. At least these action scenes are impressive.
The problem is there’s only so many times where a darkened battle firefight with laser blasts and semi-laser swords illuminating the battlefields can play out before they become redundant. And these extended fight scenes can’t overcome the lack of a coherent plot.
It’s been two years since the invasion started. A military force has emerged comprised of soldiers and those capable of fighting are doing what they can to repel the aliens. It’s not going well. After big city after big city get destroyed, all the survivors can do is retreat to the next doomed base.
Among the leaders is Matt (Dan Ewing), the rugby player turned hardcore soldier; Abraham (David Roberts, The Matrix Reloaded), military commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies, Spider-Man 2) and Amelia (Jet Tranter taking over the role from Stephanie Jacobsen). Jacobsen’s departure is noticeable since Amelia was such an important character in the first film. Tranter is fine, but it would be like replacing Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.
Amelia and Abraham are unique among the leadership as they have struck an alliance with aliens who want no part of a war and want to peacefully co-exist with the humans. Branded traitors by their kind, these aliens also find life among the humans harsh as many would rather see them dead.
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Sparke touches on some interesting areas of prejudice, PTSD and how war can bring out the worst in even decent people. In a bold move that extends to Matt, who derisively calls one of the main alien allies Gary (Lawrence Makoare, Die Another Day) since he can’t be bothered to learn his name. Oddly, neither Abraham or Amelia, who can speak the alien language, inquired about “Gary’s” name either.
After the latest base destruction, the convoy is desperate to find some way of effectively striking back. Matt and Gary volunteer to track down intel on an initiative only discovered in alien communications — Rainfall. Amelia’s brother, Marcus (Trystan Go) tags along to help and the trio embark on a lengthy mission.
Along the way, they reunite with former allies Peter (Temuera Morrison, The Book of Boba Fett) and his daughter, Isabella (Izzy Stevens). Meanwhile, Amelia and Abraham clash with Hayes over treatment of the aliens.
In watching Occupation, it felt like the film could easily be a TV series. That would allow Sparke time to continue building bonds between the characters and show the increasing sense of defeat better.
Rainfall makes that thought even more pronounced. Sparke packs way too many story elements that would be better served playing out over 10-12 episodes instead of a crammed two-hour movie.
Hayes’ distrust of aliens comes from being a POW forced to watch his girlfriend get massacred in front of him. It’s enough motive for his cruel stance, but Hayes doesn’t get the time to evolve into a villain. He’s pretty well formed bad guy to the point it’s unclear why anyone is following him.
Matt and Gary have an Alien Nation kind of dynamic where the human is constantly apprehensive of his alien partner. That needed more time to flesh out as well. Sparke probably would have been better off just focusing on Matt, Gary and Marcus and save the Amelia, Abraham and Hayes subplot for the third film.
Given the intense action and drama, Sparke’s inclusion of Ken Jeong as an American agent partnering with an alien (Jason Issacs) far indoctrinated into pop culture was an odd choice. The film didn’t need forced comedy specifically in the final act as it undercuts too much of the suspense.
Occupation: Rainfall is a big letdown from the first film. The plot has too many stories vying for attention making it difficult to follow. For the most part the action scenes hold it together thanks to their high quality, but eventually suffer from too much of a good thing.
Hopefully, Sparke can get the trilogy back on track with the third installment. Or even better, take the franchise to the small screen to properly develop the characters and war.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Saban Films
You can buy Occupation: Rainfall now on Blu-Ray on Amazon.
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