STARRING: Casper Van Dien,
Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown,
Seth Gilliam, Patrick Muldoon, Michael Ironside
1997, 129 Minutes, Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Description: Starship Troopers
charts the lives of elite members of the Mobile Infantry, a corps of
dedicated young men and women soldiers fighting side-by-side in the
ultimate intergalactic war... the battle to save humankind. The enemy is
mysterious and incredibly powerful with only one mission: survival of
their species no matter what the human cost. —
As one critic remarked, Starship Troopers
is a smart movie that pretends to be dumb.
It takes the
controversial Heinlein novel - you know the one in which Heinlein
re-staged World War II in outer space with the fascists as the heroes this
time around - and doesn't take it seriously for a moment. After all, how
can one honestly take Heinlein's future society in which one has to do
military service before attaining the vote seriously?
Okay, so Heinlein did maybe - and
if you do as well, I would suggest that you seek immediate help. (Remember
that it is really no accident that Charles Manson was a big fan of Heinlein,
especially his Stranger In A Strange Land.)
If you are a fan of the novel, then you'd probably be horrified by what
director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Total
Recall) did with Starship Troopers. Not merely the liberties
he took with the basic storyline (yeah, the novel's famous jump
suits doesn't feature at all in the movie), but also the sly commentary
he keeps on making about the material at hand. If you haven't read the
book, but take the movie seriously as well, then, oh well, I suppose that
you've missed the point then.
"Melrose Place teenagers dressed up
as Gestapo officers!"
But how can you take a bunch of Aryan
Melrose Place beautiful teenager types dressed up as storm
and Gestapo officers and sent off to outer space to hunt big bugs serious?
The film is also in on the joke and while the first half is weak and slow
moving, it is enlivened by small Internet-like infomercials - much like
the occasional newscasts in Robocop.
The second half in which all
kinds of battles with the bugs take place is better since it is here where Verhoeven's strengths lie: staging wild, over-the-top energetic ultraviolence.
Soldiers' heads and limbs get lopped off, they are burned alive, their
brains sucked out and so forth. But there is a certain Doom computer
game-like quality to these scenes.
Sure, some scenes in the movie are as dumb as they get. (Surely there
has to be better way to go about fighting these insects than using underpowered
machine guns? Why still use such machine guns when you've already achieved
interstellar flight?) But that's just part of the fun.
Troopers deserved a bigger audience than it got upon its release in
the States. But watch this film: it is destined to be a sci-fi cult favourite
. . .
(Followed by two straight-to-video sequels, namely
Starship Troopers 2 - Hero of the
Federation in 2004 and
Starship Troopers: Marauder in 2008.)
Top 100 Sci-Fi
of all time