You're It Until You're Dead Or I Find Someone Better
Imagine my surprise when I perused the back logs of Pajiba to find that no one had written a review of Starship Troopers. Considering how many people talk about it I assumed it would almost have a place of honor. Whenever a great B-movie is mentioned, whenever someone wants to compare crap = awesome, Starship Troopers is one of those movies that earns it's place. Would you like to know more?
Released in 1997 the film, directed by Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall , RoboCop, Showgirls), still holds up quite well. It retains it's quotable lines ("Mobile infantry made me the man I am today."), the graphics are actually still worth a shit (surprisingly), and the fresh cast put a lot of energy into it. I've never read the novel on which it is based (the screenplay was by Edward Neumeier who created RoboCop), written by Robert A. Heinlein, but my father had. When we saw the movie in theatres his response was, "It's totally different from the book...but I think I like it better."
It's the cast though that sells it, from old faces to fresh ones.
Casper Van Dien (Sleepy Hollow)
Dina Meyer (Detective Allison Kerry in the Saw franchise)
Denise Richards (Wild Things, The World is Not Enough)
Seth Gilliam ("The Wire")
Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother," "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog ")
Clancy Brown (Highlander, Shawshank Redemption, "Earth 2")
Michael Ironside (the original "V", Total Recall, Highlander II, Scanners)
Marshall Bell (Total Recall, Dick Tracy, The Puppet Masters)
The film takes place in a militaristic future (complete with Nazi-esque uniforms). Regular people are considered civilians, while those who serve in the military are considered "citizens." As they say in the film, "Service guarantees citizenship." These citizens are allowed a higher standard of living. In order to serve in politics ... you have to be a citizen. To have children it is easier if you are a citizen. You are given a proper degree of respect and privilege. This is the type of society that hands out public lashings as punishment, and tries, convicts, and executes murderers all in one day. The story follows a wonderful athlete (who plays a modified form of football that involves flipping over opponents), Rico (Van Dien), as he progresses from high school student to a leader of the "Roughnecks." He joins the military to follow the love of his life, Carmen (Richards), who follows her own path on her way to becoming a pilot. Rico, in turn, is followed by Dizzy (Meyer) the friend who holds a crush on him. Throw into that mix Rico's friend Carl (Harris), who, with minute psychic abilities, goes the military intelligence route. By doing so, infantry, pilot, intelligence, we are able to follow every aspect of the military. The main plot point is war. In this case war with the bugs. There are many different types of bugs who all like to rip our inferior little bodies to pieces or melt us with acid/fire spit.
Each act of the film is separated with a news break from the Federal Network. A lot of times these newsbreaks are not only refreshing, maintaining the pace of the film, but highly amusing. From ads in which children are handed live rounds of ammunition and allowed to play tug of war with a gun, to little kids crushing bugs while a woman laughs maniacally in the background. They also provide the exposition needed before getting back to the action. Rather than showing Rico and the Roughnecks traveling, bored (if not getting matching tattoos again that read "Death"), aboard a starship. The news tells us where they've traveled and why. Verhoeven deserves a lot of the credit though. Watching the film it "feels" like you are watching RoboCop and Total Recall. He's good with the gore,(Starship Troopers still has some of the best gore in a film) especially when it comes to realistic gun wounds. He manages to include all of the elements of those classic 80's sci-fi/action flicks. There's violence, explosions, and random t&a. Did there really need to be a shower scene? No. Will I complain? No. Who doesn't like the mini-nukes? How about the fact that Rico rarely blinks when he's shooting? The scene of all the crippled ships totally looks a space graveyard. It's also his attention to the little things that we take for granted. Like the muted voices of the recruits in the background as Rico listens to his Dear John letter. From the fresh faces at the beginning of the film, to the aged and more rugged ones at the end (none more noticeable than Neil Patrick Harris's). To the use of "Dixieland" being played on an electric violin, in a combat zone, while troops drink beer and dance. That's another thing the film seems to link to. Dancing=sex. The only two times Rico has sex in the film are after his prom...with Carmen, and in the field after the battle celebration...with Dizzy.
Allow me, if you will, to delve away from my more straight and simplistic approach...and talk to you normally. Starship Troopers is fucking awesome. Verhoeven probably made the last great 80's film...in 1997. There is eye candy galore. Shit gets blown up. Body parts go flying. Michael Ironside is a teacher turned squad leader with one arm. The fucking Kurgan is a drill instructor who breaks his own students arm and throws a knife through another ones hand. There are boobs, asses, and Jake Busey rubbing his junk with soap. Ignore Denise Richards and stare at Dina Meyer. Watch as tattoos and surgeries are done with friggin laser beams. The young cast in this film has done jack shit...except a lot of television...we won't count the goldenness that is Neil Patrick Harris. This movie...has it all. It even spawned sequels! That totally sucked!
How do I end this? Go get drunk, get really high, settle down with some popcorn and maybe a candy bar...something chocolate maybe (I'm a sour patch kids fan)...if it's got coconut in it I'll kill you...and watch this movie if you haven't seen it. If you have seen it, watch it again, and love it some more.