Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) — Low-rent Aliens clone

“Murderers don’t go home.”

Justin’s rating: See, all they need is a big freakin’ can of Raid

Justin’s review: Face it, if you liked Starship Troopers, even in a “guilty pleasure” capacity, you’re going to have to face a lifetime of discrimination and having to defend your affinity against the anti-Starship Troopers lobby. Trust me, they’re a vicious horde, and they lack no will when it comes to turning your opinion into your death sentence. “How could you even stomach such a load of vomit-filled film?” they’ll bark at you, stepping on your fingers as you try to pull yourself up out of the Rancor pit. “Don’t you know that Starship Troopers is the gateway drug to liking the Matrix sequels?”

Yet, as for me and my house, we will continue to support Starship Troopers. It was a great action film with loads of fun battle sequences, and the added bonus of fascist satire just sweetened the deal. This doesn’t mean I had to like Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation out of any misguided loyalty, however. And neither do you.

Troopers 2 could best be summed up as “Local Community Theater Presents: ‘Aliens‘”. The story begins and ends on a dusty night-time planet where a bunch of no-name soldiers run to a gigantic silo to hide away from attacking alien bug-things. Instead of any sort of wide-spread battles, this movie delivers more of a dark-corridor, nasty-things-going-bump-in-the-eternal-night sort of affair.

It really wants to be Aliens, like some little tyke who idolizes his big brother so much that he even wears big bro’s clothes and falls down the stairs due to oversized pants, but there’s no hope for any sort of decent homage. Like most Aliens clones, Troopers 2 can’t quite get the mix of horror, action, and interesting characters right, and they end up looking silly for trying.

With a shoestring budget and only passing resemblances to the first film, Troopers 2 can’t help but be a disappointment when you directly compare it. There aren’t any starships to speak of, or daylight, or big name stars (although the deceased captain of the Brigham Young from the first movie returns as a trooper here… um, why?), or high-level special effects. Or plot, or convincing acting, or… well, I need to stop myself before I use up too many “or’s” and disable two of my fingers.

Since it can’t boast a bigger budget or a more lavish setting than some sort of intergalactic janitor’s closet, Troopers 2 tries its hand at misdirection to try to keep you from seeing how flimsy of a setup exists. There’s a lot of action, but its mostly close-ups of soldiers firing at an unseen enemy while barking out clichéd soldier phrases. There’s some sex and nudity, of course, but that’s just so out of place for this setting that it just seems… weird.

Troopers 2’s biggest effort to keep us entertained is a slight twist on the bug’s ability to infiltrate human bodies and control them without those expensive special effects (think Body Snatchers). I thought it was kind of nifty detail that the infected humans started rotting as their animated bodies died. Gross, but nifty.

The sole genuine bright spot in the film is Dax (Richard Burgi), an ex-soldier who shows up at the outpost and takes growly command. He’s only a bright spot because he, unlike 99% of these actors, can actually emote worth a darn.

Troopers 2 isn’t without a hint of redemption; the last half hour or so ratchets up the action and gore with some actual interesting events on screen. With more of a budget, or a more polished script, this could’ve been a recommended rental title. But since I have no direct personal power to influence the past and movie studios, this will remain a wasted effort that is best used to prop up a shaky couch leg.

Didja notice?

  • Yeah, they’re not reusing footage from the first movie. Not at all.
  • It’s a high tech silo!
  • I like how the portable radar shows the bugs as not mere blips, but BUG-shaped blips
  • Nice bug bombs… get it? Bug bombs?
  • No, soldier. You didn’t kill every last bug on the planet with only a handful of bombs. Moron.
  • Wow that is one dorky soldier
  • Kissing equals DEATH!
  • Mmm… mouth bugs

One comment

  1. A significant reason for the Starship Troopers hostility stems from how this was an old-style book to film adaptation. By that, I mean they took a screenplay that had previously been used to keep a wobbly table steady, found that it kind of sort of resembled the Robert Heinlein novel if you squinted hard enough after having a few too many drinks, copy-and-pasted some character names from the book into the screenplay, and called it an adaptation. An innovation in the novel that obviously didn’t make it into the movie was that Starship Troopers was the first science fiction story to feature power armor.

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