Occupation: Rainfall, the follow-up to 2018’s Occupation… is not a particularly good film. It feels like a movie version of the really rather excellent series Falling Skies. But the characters are nowhere near as interesting and the story isn’t as well told.
We pick up two years after the first film, with the humans still fighting against the alien invaders known only as “The Grays”. Some of the main cast from the first film make an appearance again in the shape of Matt (Dawn Ewing) and Marcus (Trystan Go). Peter Bartless (Temuera Morrison) only appears around the halfway point, presumably because he can command a far bigger salary these days and this film was more concerned spending its budget on the effects rather than the casting. The character of Amelia is still in it, but has been recast and is now played by Jet Tranter, replacing the honestly far more interesting Stephany Jacobsen. New additions to the cast include Bud (Ken Jeong, who is slightly less annoying here than he was in Transformers), and Steve the Alien, (the voice of Jason Isaacs who deserves to be in far better films than this).
While the first film hinted at an alliance between some of the aliens and humanity, this film portrays it very differently, with the alien allies mistreated and distrusted by the humans even in the face of oncoming annihilation, and the racism message here is hammered home with all the subtlety of a cricket bat to the brainpan to the point the humans straight up abandon their alien allies when their base is overrun. Go humans!
The resistance are beginning to hear rumours that the aliens are searching for something called “rainfall” and so Matt and Garry the Alien (Lawrence Makoare) set out to try and discover what this is while the rest of the human resistance continues the fight, led by the not-even-trying-to-pretend-he’s-not-evil Wing Commander Hayes (Daniel Gillies). What follows is a series of admittedly very impressive set pieces as our characters run from alien attack to alien attack. I wasn’t kidding when I said they’d blown their budget on the effects. The first ten minutes of this film are so effects heavy it probably cost as much as the entire budget for the first movie!
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The one thing that is a definite improvement over the original is the story seems to be far more coherently told. It’s still far from great, but it’s a definite step up. The original was terribly disjointed, with odd montages that didn’t quite gel together, and sudden jumps in time/location that are just confusing. The storytelling here is far better, but the problem is that the story just isn’t particularly interesting. It’s cliched, the characters are still no better fleshed out than they were in the first film. Amelia is a proponent of cooperating with the aliens, Bud is the kooky one, Hayes is the evil racist one, Garry the alien is just… kinda there. Peter gets a little bit of character development with some callbacks to the original movie, and his daughter Isabella is in this film as well, played again by Izzy Stevens. She has maybe ten minutes of screen time in this two hour film so you’ll forgive me for forgetting her existence till right this moment.
The effects work is also weirdly uneven. You’ll go from massive set-piece battles with alien ships razing cities that looks like it should have Roland Emmerich’s name attached to the movie to suddenly, cringe-inducingly janky greenscreen with backgrounds that look like they’ve been pulled from a mid 2000’s video game. The biggest sin this film commits, however, is in the final seconds. No spoilers here, but the last thing you see before the credits roll is a title card proudly stating “Rainfall: Chapter 1.” CHAPTER. ONE. This film has the balls to think it’s going to get another sequel. It has not earned it.
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Nothing gets resolved here except for another handful of characters getting offed to the tune of a collective “ah well” from the rest of the cast, the “rainfall” doesn’t even enter into the plot here, it’s just a macguffin to get the story moving. Occupation was not a good film. Occupation: Rainfall is only marginally better, mostly because they obviously had so much more money to throw at the effects and the casting. If this sort of story interests you, go watch V (the original, not the remake) or the previously mentioned Falling Skies. They do this so much better.
Occupation: Rainfall is out in Cinemas and on Digital on 9th July from Signature Entertainment.