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OCCUPATION (2018)

Directed by Luke Sparke
Written by Luke Sparke, Felix Williamson
Starring Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison, Stephanie Jacobsen, Rhiannon Fish, Zachary Garred, Izzy Stevens, Charles Terrier, Charles Mesure, Felix Williamson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Aaron Jeffery, Bruce Spence, Trystan Go, Roy Billing, Ben Chisholm, Erin Connor, Rhylan Jay Bush, John Sparke, Katrina Risteska, John Reynolds, Craig Ingham, Emily Joy, James Straiton
Find more about this film here!

I was impressed at the size and scope of OCCUPATION, an Australian sci fi outing that feels more like the pilot episode for a ScyFy TV series than an actual movie. I don’t know if there was a plan to make this a pilot initially and then somewhere along the line a change was made to make it a feature lengther, but as with a solid opening, the film skips through time a bit too much for my tastes, turning the shocked survivors into seasoned soldiers via a cliched montage. Still this film has a lot of heart and moxie, making it undeniably watchable.

A small town suffering from closing factories and rising housing costs is on the verge of shutting down. With the entire town gathering to watch an exhibition soccer game and attending a street fair, the last thing they would expect is a worldwide alien invasion, but that’s exactly what happens. This forces strangers and enemies to bond and learn to survive together as the bulk of the population is jailed into camps as more and more alien ships begin to enter the atmosphere. A group of survivors attempt to learn the skills to survive and fight back against this invasion—as long as they don’t kill each other first.


Decently acted and possessing a score that really does elevate this film from low fi to high fi movie-watching, OCCUPATION looks and feels like an Australian INDEPENDENCE DAY. You have multiple storylines and a large cast battling these aliens from different fronts for different reasons. All of this has been seen before, but it is done surprisingly well here. That said, at the mid-way point, as the survivors become soldiers, the development feels rather rushed. That’s why I mentioned the TV series quality this film has. The film gets back on track in the latter moments as the action goes out of montage mode and the humans and aliens face off for one final time.

Unfortunately, I feel filmmaker Luke Sparke may have bitten off more than he could chew storywise and I think it would have been a more cohesive and naturally flowing story had he pared down the place he wanted to go. The survivors become extremely capable over a short time on screen and it’s just a little hard to believe. That said, the special effects are really good as are the designs of the aliens. The final moment, mostly due to the marvelous score, really does come off as inspiring—all in all, making OCCUPATION a surprising good sci fi time.





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