Friday, June 11, 2021

Occupation: Rainfall

You can never beat an alien invasion too decisively. Even the Martians from the 1953 War of the Worlds came back in the 1988 TV series. However, one fanatical Earth defender has a plan to do just that and he is perfectly willing to sacrifice the aliens who have sided with Earth in the process. Amelia Chambers will fight to prevent xenocidal war crimes as well as the invading alien army in Luke Sparke’s Occupation: Rainfall, which releases today in theaters and on-demand.

Yes, this is indeed a sequel to Sparke’s
Occupation, from way back in 2018. That film seemed to pretty clearly imply how the whole invasion thing ended up, but it was apparently mistaken. If anything, the aliens have redoubled their efforts to conquer Earth, despite the defection of those who advocate peaceful coexistence, like “Garry the Alien.” That is what Matt Simons calls him. Simons is not too keen on aliens of any stripe, but he still volunteers to accompany Garry on a priority recon mission, to sleuth out what all this “Rainfall” chatter is all about.

Even those of us who saw the original
Occupation might have appreciated a few clues as to who we were supposed to remember from the first film. Evidently, Simons was one of them. It is hard to gage who everyone is and how they might have changed, because the first twenty minutes or so is more like a video game showreel than a storyline you can get caught up in.

Eventually, Temura Morrison makes a welcome return as crusty Peter Bartlett, whom Simons reconnects with while he and Garry make their way towards Pine Gap, the U.S. listening station that has generated a lot of Roswellesque urban legends. That is where they eventually encounter Ken Jeong, the surprise star of the prologue.

Here’s an important spoiler:
Rainfall runs over two full hours, yet it ends with “to be continued.” Frankly, the characterization was also stronger in the first film. The visual effects are professional grade (especially the aerial combat sequences), but the xenocidal themes (not unlike those of Orson Scott Card’s unrelated novel) are clumsily heavy-handed.

Of course, Morrison (sort of Boba Fett) is as cool and steely as ever reprising his role from the first film. David Roberts also brings grizzled gravitas as the ethical resistance leader, Abraham. Unfortunately, Jet Trantor is not an improvement over Stephany Jacobsen in the role of Chambers.

There are some entertaining action scenes and some reasonable engaging
Alien Nation-style human-alien interactions, but the lecturing quickly gets tiresome. Frankly, the film would have been more compelling if it presented the alien WMD as an existential dilemma instead of a one-sided moral issue. The first was much better (maybe because its greater budget constraints also instilled greater discipline). Not recommended, Occupation: Rainfall releases today (6/11) in select theaters and via VOD platforms.