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Occupation (2018)

Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/25/2018

All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/17/2018

Stephen King has written many books which tackle many different topics, and his diversity is admirable. However, if you look at some of his novels, you can see distinct patterns. Books like 'Salem's Lot, Needful Things, and It all have a similar set-up. They take us to a small town and introduce us to a group of individuals, each of which has distinct personalities. From there, we travel with this group as they deal with some sort of adversity. This formula has served King well and it's a great way to draw the viewer into the tale. So, one has to wonder why we don't see more movies which do this. Will this plan serve Occupation well?

It's a special night in a small, rural Australian town. Everyone has gathered for a charity Australian Rules Football game (thank you, ESPN in the 80s!), and they are excited for the return of local legend, Matty Simmons (Dan Ewing). Meanwhile, Peter (Temuera Morrison) is traveling through town with his family. These events are suddenly interrupted when laser-gun toting aliens emerge from the treeline and a huge spaceship appears overhead. As the aliens begin to round up the locals, Matty and Peter escape with a small group. This rag-tag team of survivors head out of town, and set up a base camp. While they work out their personal issues, they begin to test the aliens strengths and weaknesses. Soon, utilizing some stolen alien weaponry, they begin to devise a plan to re-claim the town.

Occupation is one of those movies which is so "by the book" (although, not a Stephen King book) that it's difficult to judge. First of all, there is nothing original going on here...save for the use of Australian Rules Football. We've seen this story before -- aliens arrive and a small band of humans get together to form a resistance. The aliens wear non-descript armor and when they remove their helmets -- spoiler alert -- they look like classic grey aliens. The characters are comprised of a diverse group (although, notably, not as intentionally diverse as we'd see in an American film), each of which has a key personality trait. In a very predictable fashion, they struggle, have some setbacks, and then rally for a final assault.

So, you've probably seen this all before. But, other than some of the visual effects, there's nothing that you could point at in Occupation and call it bad. It just kind of...is. The acting is fine and everyone does a good job of coming across as stressed. The movie is a little too long and the pacing could have been tightened up, but it's hard to knock the movie for this, as it's taking that time to try and develop the characters. The story is fairly straight-forward and doesn't overly complicate things as it contains only one real twist. The ending contains a satisfying conclusion which eschews the kind of machismo which would have permeated a similar American film.

The best part of Occupation is that there is not an unnecessary villain. Movies like this (and most Stephen King novels for that matter) present us with a situation where there is a supernatural or other-worldly threat with which to contend, and then a nasty human villain is thrown into the mix. While some of the characters here are jerks, they never try to get in the way of or sabotage the others. This small note certainly helps to make Occupation more palatable, but the film remains a decent entry into a long-running sub-genre, and it feels like something which would have premiered on SyFy. Interestingly, if IMDB is to be believed, a sequel is being planned. Maybe this film will take the leap and do something truly original.

Occupation is going to lose some folks when the guy playing Rugby suddenly punts the ball through some uprights on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects, and the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences, which involve explosions and laser cannons, provide satisfying subwoofer and surround effects. The surround effects merge nicely into the stereo effects, as sounds pass by on-screen. The score and effects never drown out the actors.

The Occupation Blu-ray Disc contains no extra features.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long