Spanning the last five years Director Luke Sparke has hit the ground running, producing, writing, and directing three feature length movies and showcasing that Australia can release high budget, slick looking films.
Whilst you can’t fault Sparke for pushing the visuals and action sequences to the limit, producing some fantastic, fast-paced, frenetic moments with an effective punch, he has come under fire for weak characters and convoluted plotlines that dampen the spectacle.
His latest venture, (an extension of his pet post-apocalyptic project Occupation series, and first sequel) Occupation: Rainfall, is unfortunately no different.
The story picks up following the band of Australian survivors after the alien invasion of Earth and throws the audience in the thick of a war, where the allies’ numbers are dwindling.
Dan Ewing returns once more as hard headed Matt Simmons, who effectively brings the braun to the piece whilst struggling to collaborate with alien accomplice Gary (Lawrence Makoare) and find a common ground to work on so that they can rise above their obvious differences to defend the alliance. In many ways Sparke is drawing from the buddy cop movies that many action films have drawn from as their central character journey. Some of the shared moments work really well in this instance and are engaging, but too often they are quashed by the need to drive more action into your face rather than pause for breath and build on character. This does however highlight an absence of originality when it comes to story development.
Through the cloud of combat and explosions there are moments where the supporting cast prove their worth and lift the script above its potential, hiding the notable flaws. Chief among them is Temeura Morrision returning as Peter Bartlett, Daniel Gillies as Wing Commander Hayes who tries to do everything according to the book in order to ensure human survival, and Jet Tranter taking over the role of Amelia Chambers from Stephanie Chambers to provide the heart of the film.
Yes, Director Luke Sparke more than proves his worth of high-budget, slick looking action movies in a system that falls outside of Hollywood here in Australia.
It’s just a shame that three movies into his credits, Sparke hasn’t managed to get a grasp on his writing. I can see why he is hanging onto his vision through the Occupation series, and he certainly is a visual director, but too often the action sequences smother the characters and plot, which feel secondary as a result.
If more time were spent on developing some engaging and believable characters along with solidifying the narrative, Sparke would be a force to reckon with in the film industry.
As it stands though there is some work to be done to finesse what is obviously a creative mind, to harness this vision and strengthen what promises to be a further instalment in this franchise.
- Saul Muerte