By: Anthony Francis
Writer/director Luke Sparke’s 2018 Sci-Fi Action film “Occupation” was a “Red Dawn”- esque tale of how the residents of a small Australian community band together to fight back against an invasion of aliens.
The film contained some decent action but fell prey to familiarity and budget issues. In fairness, the director did a lot with little money, but could not fully capture the flair the film was after.
“Occupation: Rainfall” is Sparke’s sequel to the first film.
For this second film, it is now two years later, and the resistance is still fighting the alien forces. Where the first installment dealt with a specific area, Sparke’s sequel expands the alien threat to the entire continent.
The resistance has grown in numbers and has become stronger. They learn of a device created by the military called “Rainfall’, a weapon that will turn the tide of the war against the alien invaders.
Battle-scarred resistance soldier Matt Simmons (Dan Ewing) and fellow fighter Gary (Lawrence Makoare) set out in search of “Rainfall” while Amelia (Jet Tranter replacing Stephany Jacobsen from the first film) butts heads with Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies), who is a vicious and sadistic soldier who favors the torture of any captured aliens.
The great Temerua Morrison (an actor who elevates any film he is involved with) plays Peter, a man who comes down from his mountain community to join the fight.
This is an ambitious film to be sure and director Luke Sparke makes the most of every penny. He crafts an impressive and more polished visual style with his cinematographer Wade Muller and production designer John Anderson that separates it from the first film.
This is a pure Sci-Fi/Action film to its core and the director proudly lays bare his cinematic influences. There are many nods to films such as “Independence Day”, “Aliens”, and bits and pieces from the “Star Wars” saga.
This time the film is populated with many more aliens and a few new creatures, including some creatively conceived alien horse-like creatures.
The alien warriors (known as The Grays) have a good design. Suited up in battle armor and carrying vicious weapons, their faces take the old-fashioned visual styling of the big black eyes and green-scaled skin that comes to everyone’s minds when thinking of what alien life forms would look like.
Sparke stumbles a bit when he tries to insert parables about racism and the state of the world today into the quieter moments,but it doesn’t muddy the waters.
The action scenes are well directed and move along nicely. There is nothing new here, but if one is searching for well-crafted action this film feeds that hunger. Locke makes the action pop and gives his audience plenty of gun play, explosions, and big red lasers burning down from warships. The filmmaker does good work making his small budget film look like a true big budget blockbuster. This is very much a war film to its core.
“Occupation: Rainfall” ends on a cliffhanger that promises a third film. Do we need one? Who knows, but with this film Luke Sparke proves that he knows how to work a bigger budget and has officially thrown himself into the ring of filmmakers who could handle a big, loud, Hollywood blockbuster. Sparke has a handle on his film and never lets it get away from him, as so many Hollywood Action films seem to do these days.
While the film has a few “potholes in its lawn” regarding its screenplay, it is a film designed to give its audience a fun time and pretty much succeeds.