Starship Troopers (1997) — Nazis in space

“I say… kill them all!”

Justin’s rating: Hate dem bugs!

Justin’s review: Starship Troopers is a movie that you can see in three entirely different ways, which is interesting once you realize it. At the basemost level, it’s a shoot-em-up fest featuring Man vs. Praying Mantises (or whatever the heck they are), with lots of blood and gore and lovely explosions and gratuitous nudity. If that’s what you watch this movie for, then we can pretty much assume you’re a college frat student.

Past that, a lot of people see this as a really, really bad exercise in acting, where wooden dialogue and trippy clichés rule the day. And I have met a lot of nice people who turn violently angry when the subject of Starship Troopers comes up (not to say the least of which is the Denise Richards factor, which we will discuss later). But I really warmed up to this film once I saw the utter satire of Nazi Germany and fascism that lay beneath.

People, Starship Troopers is pretty much Nazis in Space. And as much as the film pokes fun of their idiotic thinking, it also is slightly chilling to see how easy it might be for people to buy into all of it. Director Paul Verhoeven took on media satire in movies such as Robocop and Total Recall, and here he uses brief media clips as government controlled propaganda. It’s meant to be both tongue-in-cheek and sobering at the same time.

Casper the friendly Van Dien IS Johnny Bravo, a brave but dull-witted lad thrust into the middle of a war that is not quite understood by both sides. Having no considerable talents other than gritting his teeth and looking pretty, Johnny gets sent to Mobile Infantry for the mandatory training sequence. His adorable yet equally dim girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards) pulls starship duty instead (see, there are Starships AND Troopers!) and essentially cheats on him the first moment a warm male body presents itself.

Poor Dizzy (the ever-cute Dina Meyer) longs for Johnny only to be shot down (literally) time and again, until she can get a death scene where she recites a poem to Johnny while breathing her own blood. I mean, seriously, if I were dying in the arms of someone who had blown me off most of the time I was pursuing them, I would use the opportunity to place some horrific gypsy curse on their head, not thank them for the flying spittle that kept hitting my face during this relationship. Finally, Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) IS going against typecasting, portraying a telepathic Nazi jerk.

The thing that DOES anger me about Starship Troopers (and to talk to my friends, them as well) is the utter loathing that Carmen brings out in me. What an evil, despicable succubus! She barely cares for our hero through the film, stooping only to sleep with him once before running as far away as she can. And after her betrayal of Johnny, does she get her just desserts? NO! She gets SAVED by Johnny and then gets command of a starship. Her smirking, smug demeanor is the epitome of every cold fish of a girlfriend that has ever existed. If there was any justice in the world, a bug would have paralyzed her and laid its eggs in her chest to eat their way out. Slowly.

Starship Troopers amuses me because so much of what the characters do and say and think is incredibly deluded and absurd. Plus, what kind of army IS this? It seems to consist of lightly armored men and women whose only defense are rocket launchers and assault rifles. That might look cool, but where are the tanks? The heavy machine guns? Artillery? Armies today don’t fight hand-to-hand until it’s a final stage of an operation. It just seems that the weapons and military should be more advanced for this era.

Anyway, Starship Troopers might be crass and use shower scenes to appease the masses, but it’s pretty darn funny once you see it from the Nazi perspective. And it’s honestly not half bad when it comes to guns and war — after all, how many sci-fi ground war movies can you recall? It does cry out for a sequel where Dizzy comes back from the grave and defeats Carmen in one-on-one hand combat — and Doogie Howser gets slapped around like the puppy he is.

Didja notice?

  • The alien planet is nicknamed “Big K”… breakfast cereal anyone?
  • The XFL lives in the future, without padding
  • Yeah, give children guns, that’s a good idea
  • I was just glad to see a girl mooning as a guy was mooning too… equality of the sexes in mooning, that’s my motto
  • The fort defense scene contains many references to Zulu: “You’re all going to die!”, “Fire at will” and “Withdraw to the main compound”, along with some similar camera angles.
  • Michael Ironside’s line “They sucked his brains out!” is the same as a line he spoke in Scanners.
  • The screen of Rico’s computer in the classroom shows the word “fedpaint” at the lower border.
  • The band at the graduation party plays a David Bowie song called “I Have Not Been To Oxford Town.” The lyrics are reworked a bit to refer to the 23rd century rather than the 21st.
  • The odds of a ship physically running into an asteroid launched from Klendathu to Earth are literally astronomical. However, there’s no strong evidence it really was launched from Klendathu; this is an assumption the humans make, and its very absurdity (and the early death of the only reporter to question it) is part of the point.
  • Would they really have a live fire assault course right next to an obstacle course being used
  • Good to see AT&T; is still going strong in the future
  • I love, love the scene where Johnny is leaving boot camp but changes his mind when he sees everyone start to run toward the news feed
  • Heh… the kids stomping on the bugs always cracks me up

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