STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997)

Directed By: Paul Verhoeven 
Written By: Ed Neumeier 
Based on the book by: Robert A. Heinlein 
Cinematography: Jost Vacano 
Editor: Mark Goldblatt & Caroline Ross 

Cast: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Clancy Brown, Jake Busey, Michael Ironside, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth Gilliam, Patrick Muldoon, Dean Norris, Rue McClanahan, Marshall Bell, Matt Levin, Brenda Strong, Amy Smart, Greg Travis, Dale Dye

In the distant future, high school kids are encouraged to become citizens by joining the military. What they don’t know is that they’ll soon be engaged in a full-scale war against a planet of alien insects. The fight is on to ensure the safety of humanity.


a film about and presented in parts as a war propaganda epic, but it’s also an out-and-out war film. As well as a melodrama that all feels like a video game. As it also has a science fiction element.

This is an epic war film that focuses more on the battlefield and action than anything else. It ultimately becomes a satire on war films. 

The film follows a group of high school students who sign up for military service for various reasons though the love triangle introduced at the beginning seems to show that each of them signed up to follow the other. These will be the ones we mostly stay with throughout. So that it has a coming of age and mildly romantic element. Which is the only time the film has any sweet moments.

Most of the characters come from Buenos Aires and are mostly caucasian. As the story goes along we are introduced to various characters most of them look straight out of a soap opera and are visually appealing. Which only strengthens when it comes to melodrama. It also clues you into who will most likely survive.

Even though the film does throw in plenty of surprises it also serves up plenty of cliches it manages to also throw in some ridiculous measures of subversion. Like seeing Neil Patrick Harris famous at the time mroe for playing teen doctor DOOGIE HOWSER on television. As a high-ranking military scientist and strategist prone to wearing German SS army gear as a uniform without any swastikas and when the main character of Johnny Rico is punished for insubordination, his punishment is to get whipped and he is punished when applying the whipping is an African American man. 

The film is hyper-violent and gory. Even the boot camp scenes manage to have death and plenty of violence. 

Once the battle begins we see the soldiers fight off against the deadly enemies bigs that’s right the enemy is giant insects. So that when there is violence against the enemy there is carnage but mostly goo rather than blood. Only when Humans are killed is there really bloody gore. 

When it comes to the style scenes grand and small there is so much action in battles and in casualties that is where it more feels like a video game other than in the premise. So while not based on one this is an early example of what a movie based on a video game should feel like. Before, where they feel like they could easily interchange. 

The film knows that this is pretty much a campy big-budget B-Movie that doesn’t take itself deadly seriously. It knows what it is and offers the audience thrills and chills, but knows it is there more to entertain over all else. 

It knows how far-fetched the premise is but makes you care and get involved anyway. It has breaks of propaganda where it shows news reports, commercials, and ad campaigns that are all overacted. Which not only like Director Paul Verhoven’s previous film ROBOCOP satirizes but also manages to world build and give background information of how this war is affecting all aspects of life on the battlefield.

The film is hard-edged and dark throughout. Even when it comes to its humor. 

It’s obviously a film that could only be made at the time it was. As it asks us to watch a war film that doesn’t really have any political agenda and is more born out of entertainment than being too serious and to show off special effects but not make it overbearing and what the film focuses on.

This is a film that at times is easy to forget about but feels like a film of a different time. It’s a film where you won’t forget the first time you see it and it might come off as silly at first but the more you think about it the more Impressed you are by it 

Even though most of his films have been wild and structured. This film seems to be one of the bigger films of Director Paul Verhoeven’s career where he seeks to go more full balls to the wall. Rather than trying to be too subtle or create a more intimate atmosphere. While not necessarily a classic along the lines of TOTAL RECALL or ROBOCOP which he directed. He doesn’t embarrass himself or shows any restraint even as this comes off as one of his more mainstream and crowd-pleasing films. 

As I will admit when I first saw it in theaters I felt it was ridiculous but kept me entertained. 

That seems to be more for a blockbuster audience and not so much the artistic crowd. 

Grade: B

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