Film review: ‘OCCUPATION: RAINFALL’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Few things kill the otherworldly mystique of a fantasy or sci-fi film as quickly as an Aussie accent.  Rarely has this been more apparent than in the ambitious but hideously clunky and ultimately painful Australian-made alien invasion flick Occupation: Rainfall.  Adapted from yet another video game, this awkwardly named film attempts to emulate variously Star Wars, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica and Independence Day but has barely an atom of their appeal. It should surprise many Australian filmgoers that this is in fact a sequel to a 2018’s Occupation, a film that made little impression on the box office but strangely became a minor hit on Netflix in the US.

The film sees a not-too-distant future Australia under siege from our old mates the bubble-headed aliens or ‘Greys’ as they’re referred to here.  With most of Earth’s major cities obliterated, the humans have transformed into, guess what, a rag-tag military force staging a desperate resistance against the alien invaders.  There’s tension in the human ranks, though, with some, like soldier Amelia Chambers (Jet Tranter) still believing peace with the aliens is possible while others, like the maniacal Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies) want to annihilate the Greys.  In the midst of this war, a small group including hard-nut soldier Matt Simmons (Dan Ewing) and a wise alien defector nicknamed Gary (Lawrence Makoare), head to none other than Pine Gap to learn the secret of a mysterious weapon calked Project Rainfall.

Apart from a few clumsy references to western prejudices and mistreatment of enemy prisoners of war, this film offers little in the way of depth or subtext.  For the most part it’s concerned with loud explosions and shootem-up action sequences.  Because the film allows us almost no emotional connection with the characters, little interest in its videogame plot and due to its infuriatingly choppy editing, the action sequences hold almost no excitement.  These scenes are just an infuriating blur of smoke, laser flashes and bodies flying about all rendered in sub-standard CGI. Particularly irritating, though, are the fight scenes where Matt and Gary effortlessly despatch astonishingly inept alien soldiers thereby rendering these sequences completely devoid of tension or threat.

Despite some scenery chewing performances, none of the characters make much impression.  Even the usually magnetic Temeura Morrison, who plays a kind of rebel leader, is barely memorable.  This is in part due to the actors having to compete with messy editing but also because of the punishingly clunky dialogue much of which sounds like an Aussie cricketer sledging an opposition batsman.  Worse still, the film feels it necessary to introduce comic relief in the form of The Hangover’s Ken Jeong who larks about Pine Gap with his ridiculous stoner alien buddy.

The film’s almost non-stop procession of action sequences will appease some viewers and maybe there’s a few Easter eggs planted for the fans of the videogame but most cinemagoers will grieve the 128 minutes expended on Occupation: Rainfall.

Nick’s rating: **

Genre: Sci-fi/ action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Luke Sparke.

Release date: 28th Jan 2021.

Running time: 128 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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