Starship Troopers (1997) Review
Starship Troopers is Paul Verhoeven at his most satirical, violent and bloody. As an action film it’s great and always entertaining with a story that keeps the adrenaline pumping. As a science fiction film it’s got a bit of everything, spaceships, aliens and visuals that not only stand up to the passage of time but could rival some modern blockbusters. But for me the best thing in this film is its satire, like many of Verhoeven films its highlight is satire as it is both funny and a fascinating insight into how different ideologies might look in the future. Whilst the acting wasn’t great I don’t care because the characters are great and dialogue is both quotable and so funny it can put tears into a grown man’s eyes. Kill’em kill’em all!
Rasczak: “You. Tell me the moral difference, if any, between the citizen and the civilian?”
Set on the future earth, Johnny rico is a young student dating a girl named Carmen. When Carmen decides to join the military in order to become a class citizen (citizenship is only achieved through serving your country), Johnny follows and joins as well. He soon realizes that he joined for the wrong reasons but just as he is about to quit, an asteroid that originated from the orbit of planet “klendathu” hits Buenos Aires (his home town) and kills his family. Johnny and his fellow troopers set out to destroy the planet’s inhabitants: a type of deadly and very large scaled space bugs. Through a seemingly ordinary action flick, director paul verhoeven creates a subtle anti-war theme, that shows us a fascist and military world far more frightening than WW2’s Germany, Italy or Russia, the kind of world that is actually functioning.
Tim’s Film Reviews Recommended
Story: 85% Acting: 75% Characters: 95% Dialogue: 90%
Action/Sci-Fi: 100% Style/Sound: 90% Visuals: 100%
The films story is a weird one and whilst based on a book Verhoeven has a tendency to take a concept and run with it rather than stick to its origins. Luckily for him it’s almost always better for it. The story of alien bugs attacking earth and we humans going after them in revenge is relatively simple but what makes it so memorable and what gives it this cult status is the idea of a fascist based government. The satirical material in this film makes it laughable and far-fetched but actually thinking about it it’s worrying that it in some ways might work. This is an idea that is never really thought of, most films point to fascism as an obvious bad way to go rather than in this film were it is even more scary because it shows a system that might work and so it’s more convincing as a vision of the future.
On a more funny side of the film, the TV segments are a beautiful piece of satirical art. Would you like to see more? They were all one sided and completely right wing and pro-government it’s hard not to laugh. My favourite would have to be when they show the kids stomping on bugs and the narrator says “Even you can do your part”. It’s also very clever because you can see this clear propaganda with counts of the dead in bold and pictures of fire and dead soldiers. In the totally one sided regime it’s easy to imagine it’s what would be showing on TV all day. The characters in this film are fantastic as well with a vast selection of the military featured and explored throughout the film, we even get to follow three high school kids grow into their own roles within the federation. Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown play the most entertaining roles in the film with characters so much larger than life it’s hard not to love them when they spout ridiculously fascist lines.
The action and the science fiction are great. We get to explore alien worlds and travel through space; this provides both action and fascinating science fiction. The spaceships are fascinating and having an interesting design with very well thought out designs both exterior and interior which is always nice to see in films which we don’t get much of. When off the ships and on the ground the battles are epic and the bugs are scary. Couple of reasons they bring fear is because one they are quick and get up nice and close to are heroes. Two they have this horrible screech that I am sure would make me as jumpy as hell if I was there and three they those bugs are not only real looking but are slicing humans up like they are nothing but a snack. The sound and music in this film is great and clearly done by the same maestro from the Robocop film because the theme throughout is so damn epic!
Wait so they didn’t genetically engineer giant bugs for this film? It’s just really good CGI? But then why are so many films getting made that look like shit? Because Phil Tippett can make Dinosaurs come back to life and make cops into robots. The man has won Oscars for his work and deserves them. What I love most though is how well everything has stood up to time. Most the film doesn’t make me cringe and that’s impressive 16 years later. The world looks futuristic and there was a lot to make futuristic, we had sports, classrooms and most importantly the military which under a fascist government would have the largest funding ever and clearly shows in the weapons and spaceships used to fight the war with the bugs.
Must Watch Trailer:
The best reviews I found would be these “A jaw-dropping experience, so rigorously one-dimensional and free from even the pretense of intelligence it’s hard not to be astonished and even mesmerized by what is on the screen” Kenneth Turan. “It is pure Verhoeven — broad, brash and ultraviolent, and all up there on the screen” Ian Nathan. “Massive, hilarious and thrilling. I went to lunch a few times with a girl who despised this movie. I was forced to conclude that she’s not very smart” Gregory Weinkauf. “Paul Verhoeven’s satiric, 1997, sci-fi, war-movie romance is admittedly an acquired taste” John J. Puccio. “Insanely subversive…functions as a visually dazzling science-fiction action picture, a philosophical challenge, and a hilarious, incisive comedy” Peter Canavese. “Gory, scary, violent sci-fi is too intense for kids” Charles Cassady.
My favourite scene would have to be when the bugs attack that fort they find. It shows off the visuals but also you get a mix of all the themes throughout the film, the epic music, great action, paranoid military, let’s kill’em all attitude and so damn gory! Heads flying and people burning.