‘Go big or go home’ is the mantra adopted by writer-director Luke Sparke for Occupation: Rainfall, the action-packed sequel to his 2018 sleeper hit Occupation,

The first thing that becomes apparent as it kicks off – with an intergalactic firefight – is how far these characters have come from the local footy oval in the small town of Taylor’s Corner.

Although it offers a brief recap of previous events, Rainfall still demands knowledge of Occupation, which told the story of a global invasion by an alien race and focused its attention on a group of characters from rural Australia. With a seemingly modest budget, it was an impressive spectacle that combined the premise of Tomorrow, When the War Began with the TV series The 100. Suffice to say it was an ambitious and well executed science fiction adventure.

Rainfall builds upon the story, taking place two years after the occupation. With the major cities captured and in the throes of war, we catch up with Matt Simmons (Dan Ewing) and Amelia Chambers (now played by Jet Tranter) – the heroes from the first movie – as they witness the fall of
Sydney.

Matt goes in one direction towards Pine Gap (the top secret American research facility in central Australia) in search of “Rainfall”, a highly classified means to annihilate the enemy, while Amelia continues her quest for peace by attempting to broker a truce with the aliens. Other
characters from the first movie are also present in a lesser capacity, while many newcomers join the resistance desperate to reclaim their lives.

The plot and its various character arcs are too numerous and complex to detail here, and, to be honest, revealing more would simply spoil things. What is important to know is that Luke Sparke has upped the ante and even thrown the kitchen sink into his highly ambitious sequel, delivering an absolute spectacle which plays like a hybrid of Star Wars and Farscape. With a clearly larger budget he hasn’t held back on ideas, and there isn’t a single frame of the film without numerous special effects and story progression. Furthermore, with the FX people behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi onboard, it is a sight to behold.

Returning players joining Ewing and Tranter include Temuera Morrison, Izzy Stevens, Trystan Go and Zac Gerred, alongside an assortment of newbies such as Daniel Gillies (The Originals), Ken Jeong (The Hangover), Vincent Colosimo (Chopper), David Roberts (The Square) and Jason Isaacs (Event Horizon). It’s a respectable and higher calibre of talent which will help deliver the film to the international market, and should Occupation become an ongoing franchise (which is on the cards), then the casting draft should become even more impressive.

Each of the aforementioned players give good performances, although with so much action occurring between every syllable of dialogue, it is difficult to identify one who is notably stronger than the others. What is most striking, however, are the themes that Sparke has woven throughout
his story. Amongst the persistent chaos is an exploration of humanity and the nature of man. One of the most effective characters in the ensemble is an alien who’s been given the human name of Gary. He is a defector who joined the resistance, and his observations and interpretations of human behaviour give Rainfall its substance. His role is important – without it there is no sense of dilemma.

Perhaps most exciting of all is that both Occupation and Occupation: Rainfall are homegrown high-concept genre films with international appeal and the potential for further expansion. If the evolution from the first film to the second is any indication, then the perpetual motion of this franchise moving forward is something to look forward to.

In cinemas: January 28, 2021
Starring: Dan Ewing, Jet Tranter, Temuera Morrison
Directed by: Luke Sparke

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