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Occupation Rainfall

Peter Malone MSC  |  15 February 2021

OCCUPATION RAINFALL, Australia, 2021. Starring Dan Ewing, Daniel Gillies, Mark Coles Smith, Lawrence Makoare, Jet Tranter, Temuera Morrison, Izzy Stevens, David Roberts, Trystan Go, Zac Garred, Ken Jeong, Jason Isaacs, Dena Kaplan. Directed by Luke Sparke. 120 minutes. Rated M (Science-fiction themes, violence and coarse language).

This action-filled adventure is, in fact, a sequel. In 2018, writer-director, Luke Sparke was producer of Occupation, a story of aliens attacking earth, specifically the City of Sydney, the resistance built up to confront the aliens, refugees from the city and their setting up a kind of post-apocalyptic community.

Looking at the reviews of Occupation (and Red Billabong, an earlier Sparke-produced  Australian thriller), one is rather dismayed at how negative they all are. Enough to discourage any writer and director early in his career. But, happy to say, Sparke was not put off and, to coin a phrase relevant to the action, all guns blazing, has not hold held back in producing this quite spectacular ‘War of the Worlds’ alternative.

It runs for two hours, barely pausing for breath or silence, often a booming soundtrack, effective and rapid editing (by Sparke himself), that will sweep most audiences along with it. Except that they will be wondering about the rainfall of the title, a teaser given at the beginning of the film (with added spice by the presence of American comedian, Jeong) revelations not coming until the adventure nears its end.

The audience has to admire that this is an Australian production, big wide screen, lots of special effects, settings of war and battles, ugly aliens, harassed refugees, the ruins of Sydney, the broken arch of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House on fire – and some spectacular shots of the Blue Mountains where, in the past, the government has set up all kinds of war strategy offices within the mountains. Usually, this kind of action takes place in Los Angeles or New York, so it is welcome (perhaps not the best word in the circumstances) to see the action in and around Sydney, and with Australian accents.

Of course, this kind of material has been seen before, and often. But, that is not the point. Fans of this kind of science-fiction-fantasy are eager to see more of the same, especially if it is done with spectacle, speed and tension.

A number of the cast of the original Occupation have returned for this sequel. Matt (Ewing) is a somewhat gung-ho (and highly bigoted anti-alien soldier, suspicious even when an alien is cooperating). Probably most audiences will differ from Matt as well as from the even more hawkish commander, Hayes (Gillies). They will probably like very much the sympathetic alien whom Matt nicknames Gary (because it looks like a Gary). Gary (Makoare) participates in the key battles, goes on a mission with Matt and stowaway, young Marcus (Go), flying, riding on metallic alien horse-creatures, finally encountering the community from the first film, led by Peter (Morrison) and Bella Bartlett (Stevens). They find their way to Pine Gap, long since abandoned by the Americans leaving only a comic caretaker (Jeong, whose US repartee wears thin quickly) and an Americanised alien (of the pop-culture variety voiced by, of all people, British Jason Isaacs).

We do learn something about Rainfall during this alien Occupation – but what happens to Matt and his associates, to Gary? The credits come up – indicating this is Occupation Rainfall Chapter 1. We can hope that this film will be popular among the fans, not only at home, but well beyond and in the United States. Box office more than sufficient for a sequel…

Monster Films/ Umbrella
Released 28 December
Peter Malone MSC is an associate Jesuit Media

 

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