When you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you end up among the stars. Unless, of course, your space shuttle explodes seconds after launch.
Occupation, it's fair to say, does not blast off into the heavens. It has some good ideas but its overstuffed, over familiar and very heavy handed in its 'why can't we all get along?' message and environmental concerns. Both topics of merit, but handled with all the subtlety of an alien laser blast to the face.
The story follows the standard blueprint for an alien invasion flick. We follow a ragtag group from an Outback town in nowheresville Australia who band together despite their differences to survive an invasion from powerful aliens and, eventually, fight back.
Of the ensemble cast Temuera Morrison steals the show as an ex-con, fresh from prison and eager to reconnect with his estranged family before the invasion ruins his plans. When his frustrations finally boil over it's a frightening reminder of just how great/terrifying Morrison is at portraying a primal brutal violence.
If only the rest of the movie was at his standard. Obviously produced on a modest budget, the effects aren't too bad. Even if the "real" aliens wobble from looking almost cool when armoured up to looking like something out of Wellington Paranormal when the helmets come off. Full credit, however, for the amount of practical explosions in this movie. Things are exploding and burning all over the show.
Clearly hoping to capture an old-school feel, the movie is just too long and too cliched, bordering on ridiculous towards its end. Even the soundtrack, which swells to epic heights as often as possible, feels cheesy rather than stirring. And although there's plenty of action scenes they're not particularly thrilling.
Occupation is a laudable attempt to make a big budget, sci-fi blockbuster without big budget, sci-fi blockbuster money. Unfortunately this is one invasion that was sadly lost.
Temuera Morrison, Stephanie Jacobsen, Dan Ewing
M (Violence and offensive language)
These familiar space invaders won't entertain.