Starship Troopers Reviews
Roger Ebert, who had praised the "pointed social satire" of Verhoeven's Robocop, found the film "one-dimensional," a trivial nothing "pitched at 11-year-old science-fiction fans." I personally didnīt like "Starship Troopers" when it came out and now when I gave it another chance my opinion hasnīt changed. The problem here is that Paul Verhoeven doesnīt manage to make this work satire wise, production wise nor value wise. Itīs such a b-movie with mediocre acting, bad green screen set ups, bad CGI and classic over the top Verhoeven goriness and I am not sure if that was the main point in Verhoevenīs head, but to me that is as failure as the script has interesting anti right-wing militarism and anti-violence angles, however everything falls to pieces as Verhoeven has put mediocre actors and actresses in the main roles and the so called satire only becomes cheesy and bad compared to "Robocop" and the interesting main plot ends up in the background due to the bad handling of the material. I simply donīt like the result and I believe it couldīve been so much better.
Perhaps the most useful thing I got out of watching this film was learning that it is loosely based on a novel by Robert Heinlein, and that Robert Heinlein also wrote Stranger In a Strange Land and is a bizarre pro-war fascist.
The acting is decent, some of the character aren't very well interpreted but you can see them growing and becoming better. For example, Rico changes from being a rich kid to a badass soldier, and you really see him getting better and better.
The special effects, aged well. The aliens look intimidating even when they have the graphics of a 2003-2004 videogame, but their roars and how they are rendered makes them intimidating. The fights have thrills too, you are worried about Rico and his people.
The plot, is kinda hit and miss. It's like a mix between a B-Movie and a drama, sometimes it takes itself seriously and sometimes it doesn't do it at all; I mean some characters even mock about some plot points.
The music is ok. The main theme is easily remembered, and the theme where they go down and fight the aliens for the first time is pretty dramatic and helps the scene. Too bad the rest of the soundtrack is not as good.
It doesn't matter if it is a bad adaptation of a book, it is a good movie on it's own.
Set sometime in the 23rd Century, mankind is at war! While colonizing new planets humanity has encountered an insectoid species known as Arachnids, or "Bugs" on the distant world of Klendathu. When the Bugs send a large asteroid to end and annihilate Buenos Aires, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) swears revenge. He, his girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards) and their best friend Carl (Neil Patrick Harris) enlist. While the other two are given high-ranking positions, Rico is sent to the front lines where he and his fellow Mobile Infantry members (including Dina Meyer as Dizzy, Jake Busey as Ace, Michael Ironside as Lt. Rasczak and Clancy Brown as Career Sgt. Zim) come face-to-face with the Bugs, little more than human shredding machines on legs.
"Starship Troopers" gets downright nasty in its violence and gore. To make the "eww" factor even more traumatic, the special effects are excellent and don't look dated in any way (despite the fact that this picture was made in 1997). Does that mean everyone on-screen save for the main players are just going to be meat sacks for the grinder like in a slasher movie? Not quite because you will care about the people present. The movie takes the time to give each character their own traits and personality but it does so efficiently, developing several characters at once to show them both as individuals and as a cohesive fighting force. "Starship Troopers" is constantly eliminating and introducing new soldiers to the fray so you never who's going to make it and who is going to be sent home in a body bag. You've got to be paying attention even when the monsters aren't on-screen because that's where the important dramatic beats are present. People fall in love, develop friendships, rivalries and grow as individuals as they are affected by the war they're in.
What I like about Verhoeven's films is that he always goes all-out. The movie knows it's an R-rated film so it doesn't sugarcoat anything or censor itself. We get shower scenes where guess what, people naked. You get sex scenes where you see nudity and you get appropriate language too. I've already mentioned the gore but it feels justified because the film bears everything.
Now let's talk about the humour and satirical aspects. "Starship Troopers" shows the folly of blindly following the call to war and pokes fun at the way the truth is twisted to entice the young to enlist. We get commercials, propaganda speeches and mini documentaries on how twisted this world is. How you need a permit to have children, you're not allowed to vote without having served in the military, how insensitive people have become to death and how violence is seen as the principal solution to all of this society's problems. You get some really funny bits that will catch you off guard because it's so in-your-face. One of my favourite sequences involves soldiers showing off their guns to a bunch of excited schoolchildren, who end up fighting over who gets to play with it first, all for the sake of the TV camera. There are some really good one-liners that are memorable (Everyone fights, no one quits. If you don't do your job I'll shoot you myself) and quotable (Come on you apes... You want to live forever?!). Those make it a blast to watch with your friends.
Is "Starship Troopers" cheesy and ridiculous? Oh you bet it is. But it's intentional and that really balances out how overpowering the bloodshed would be if you weren't laughing at the madness of it all. Some of the acting is good, some of it... not so much but it moves quickly and it's a lot of fun. If you don't like violence and black humour, you'll be perplexed as to why people like the film but if this is what you're craving, the fact that it won't be for everyone is what will make you appreciate it even more. Call me a cultist, but I can't get enough of "Starship Troopers". (On Blu-ray, February 23, 20