TL;DR – A sequel that improves on the first in every way, full of action, and a ride from the start till finish
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film.
Occupation: Rainfall Review –
A couple of years ago, I got to see this little Australian Science Fiction which was punching far above its weight. It was a movie filmed on a minuscule budget that did more with that budget than those with a much larger purse. It was a good representation of an alien invasion film, and full of some great action set pieces. So it was great to see that it was getting a sequel, and I am glad to say it improves on the first film in every way.
In the years since the first film Occupation, the resistance movement has fought from the hillside towns and villages down to Sydney’s heart. It is a war of attrition and small hit-and-run operations, trying to take the city back one small section at a time. For Matt Simmons (Dan Ewing), this is a battle of zero compromises because it is a fight for their lives. But for Amelia Chambers (Jet Tranter), she is trying to find a diplomatic answer or try to find a cooperative way to work with the other subjugated aliens. However, when Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies) calls a retreat, and all hope seems lost, a rumour about a new weapon called Rainfall starts to spread. Rainfall could be their one hope, or humanities final downfall.
In many ways, I do have to say that this is a film made just for me because its style and presentation hit a nostalgic view of the Science Fiction that I grew up with. You have two people who have a reason to hate each other, coming to respect each other throughout the film. You have a scrappy group of survivors coming up against insurmountable odds and still going on. There are gun battles, convoy escapes, laser edged swords, and even a good old fashioned hover vehicle chase. This is a style you see in shows like Defiance or Falling Skies which I enjoyed immensely. It is also a very Australian film that you feel in tone even if they didn’t open with the Sydney Opera House in frame or thrown around very specifically Australian things like Pine Gap references.
Now I should say that the version in the film that I got to see was not the final one, as COVID had understandably slowed down some of the post-production elements. However, in the scenes that had been finished, you got a feeling for the sort of style they were going for, which I liked. This includes many digital characters that all felt real, including two horse/dog/aliens I am 100% here for. I also liked how much was done practically, including some fascinating sets and action set pieces, all of this set to a delightful musical score. The director Luke Sparke is known for making things look big on a small budget, and you can see that level of work in the film.
For me, one of the things that made this film land was the characters that I loved every minute they were on the screen. There was the excellent banter of Captain Wessex (Mark Coles Smith) in between him screaming at aliens from the back of a moving truck with a gun in hand. Marcus Chambers (Trystan Go) is trying to prove himself in a world that is constantly changing around him. There is Hayes who you can almost sympathise with given his past, but then that does not justify anything he does. Amelia, whose sheer optimism in the face of all is very much needed in the film. Then there is Ken Jeong, and Jason Isaacs who appear at a pivotal point in the movie and the sheer delight of their presence is felt like a wave.
That is not to say there weren’t any frustrations with this film. While they pack a lot into this runtime, you can still feel the race to the end in the final act that did lead to some character moments that felt forced rather than natural. Indeed some story streamlining probably could have helped here, which is the one criticism I had from the first film that you could still feel in this one. Also in the version I saw it did feel like there needed to be another pass on the audio balance, but then it was not nearly as bad as some films, so that is not the end of the world.
In the end, do we recommend Occupation: Rainfall? Yes, yes we do. I do admit I thoroughly enjoy this kind of SciFi, and that it is not for everyone. But I had a blast with Occupation: Rainfall from start to finish. It was funny, had good action set pieces, and the cast were all there for its sometimes bonkers premise. If you liked Occupation: Rainfall, I would also recommend to you I Am Mother.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Disclosure – I am good friends with a close relative of one of the producers of this film
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Occupation: Rainfall
Directed by – Luke Sparke
Written by – Luke Sparke
Music by – Frederik Wiedmann
Cinematography by – Wade Muller
Edited by – Luke Sparke
Production/Distribution Companies – Occupation Two Productions, Saban Films & Monster Films
Starring – Dan Ewing, Jet Tranter, Daniel Gillies, Temuera Morrison, Ken Jeong, Jason Isaacs, Lawrence Makoare, Mark Coles Smith, David Roberts, Trystan Go, Dena Kaplan, Vince Colosimo, Izzy Stevens, Brad McMurray, Katrina Risteska, Zac Garred, Erin Connor, Madison Haley, John Reynolds & Ben Chisholm
Rating – Australia: M;