Starship Troopers

Dir: Paul Verhoeven
Star: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Patrick Muldoon

Trash City
Top 50 Film
Ten years on, there's something subversive and eerily predictive about this. The incident that triggers war between the alien insects and Earth is supposedly the bugs lobbing a meteor at Buenos Aires - but the map in the film clearly shows their system is on the other side of the galaxy, rendering this explanation utterly ludicrous (any meteor would take millions of years to reach here, even if hurled at the speed of light). Conflict started for entirely fictitious reasons; a grab for resources by a greedy power, riding a wave of popular outrage, and under the guise of an act of self-defense. Hmm. Sound familiar at all?

That aside, this is a rollicking good action/SF film, and who but Verhoeven would have the guts to make the good guys fascists? [Check out the Nazi-esque uniform worn by former Doogie Howser, now gay icon, Neil Patrick Harris, at the end] Verhoeven said the intended message is "War makes fascists of us all," but the film is more ambiguous on whether this is necessarily a bad thing... Earlier on, it is a bit sluggish, none of the characters making much impression beyond the banal, though acne is clearly a thing of the past, as much as individuality. Things perk up at boot-camp, with Clancy Brown a fine drill-instructor, whose style clearly benefits from the improved medical technology.

And then, when they take the fight to the enemy, Verhoeven lets fly with Phil Tippett's bugs, still all but impeccable, a decade later. To borrow a line from my earlier review: "woo-hoo". Bring it on. Oh, yes. Decapitations, dismemberments, impalements and brain-suckage follow, shot with gleeful enthusiasm by Verhoeven - he often took on the role of the insects during shooting, to give the actors something to play against. It may not be the most accurate adaptation of the book (Verhoeven never finished Robert A. Heinlein's novel, saying it bored and depressed him), but on its own terms, this is a heart-pumpingly good film, with more sly undertones of intelligence that you might imagine at first.

January 2007

What we wrote then. I suspect this will be a film that people will either love or hate, for it is basically a propoganda movie, and you either buy into it or don't. Me, I lapped it up, and so the stereotypical hero and heroine (with the cutest little nose) seemed perfectly appropriate. Sure, the first hour is '90210 in Space' -- but I like Beverly Hills 90210, and there is enough casual violence, most notably from Clancy Brown, to keep you acceptably amused until you get to the bugs' planet. And once you're there...woo-hoo! Computer graphics are very good at doing shiny, geometric things. Like insects. Lots of them. Thus, you will spend the second half of the movie with your jaw in your lap watching a spectacular selection of battle scenes, explosions, and dismemberments -- word is, it's getting a '15' certificate, which is sensible since there's little sex or swearing, and none of the violence is what you'd call imitable (unless you happen to be a twelve-foot tall bug with razor-sharp legs). It is a perfect teenage male movie, starting and ending with an exhortation to join the army. I'd have signed up on the spot. It works. B+

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