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Starship Trooper

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Starship Trooper

Starring: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Rated: R
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: November 1997
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, War, Action

*Also starring: Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown, Seth Gilliam, Patrick Muldoon, Michael Ironside, Rue McClanahan

Review by David Wilcock
2 stars out of 4

Paul Verhoeven's American movie career has certainly had its ups and downs. Starting off with the excellent Robocop (1987) and Total Recall (1990), he then started to give us terrible 'sex' films, such as the stylish yet mediocre Basic Instinct (1992) and the downright awful Showgirls (1995). So, he is obviously better at directing action films, and Starship Troopers sees him return to the action genre. Whether it is actually any good or not is debatable.

The films opens well, with a twenty second newsreel telling us about an attack from giant bugs (much like the classic B-movie Them!), and showing us an entire squadron of soilders getting mained, ripped apart, and generally dying in nasty ways. The film then cuts to 'One year later', and this is where the problems begin.

The first problem is that the first thirty minutes of this film is more like an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. We are introduced to the characters, and the whole 30 minutes is like watching a very dodgy afternoon soap. Anyway, Casper Van Dien plays Johnny Rico, who wants to join the Starship Troopers so he can stay with his girlfriend Carman, played by Denise Richards. Dina Meyer plays Rico secret admirer, Dizzy, who also joins the Troopers, and basically we see Rico and Carman being gooey with each other, and Dizzy trying to get into bed with Rico.

The audience has to suffer this until the bugs destroy the whole of Buenos Ares. War is declared, and Rico, Carman and Dizzy all go and kick some alien butt. The plot is forgotten, the film forgets the meaning of dialogue (e.g the dialogue is crap) and it just gets on with the death, violence, and sex.

The action scenes are good, with the bug special effects looking very professional. However, after the 3rd bug attack, it all gets a bit repetative. The main problems is that there is not enough species of bugs. There are about five in this film, and only two do anything intresting (the brain and tank bug) The rest are sadly dull. However, the deaths in this film are suitably gory, with arms, heads and legs getting ripped off, and even one unlucky person getting his brains sucked out. The film isn't as violent as Total Recall, and swearing is pratically non existent. This seems odd, as the first thing I would say when a giant bug is heading towards me wanting to rip me apart would defintely be "Oh f***!"

The cast (mainly a bunch of newcomers) are average, but this film dosen't really require great performances. If I had to choose a best performance, it would go to Michael Ironside (Scanners, Total Recall) who is suitably hard-ass as Lt. Jean Rasczak. The special effects, especially the larger bugs, are great, and the many companies who contributed to the effects (including Industrial Light & Magic) have done a great job. Sadly, though, the model heads and hands look appaling fake, much like Total Recall. Why they didn't use CGI is beyond me, as it would of looked much better than the models the film uses.

Paul Verhoeven directs well, especially with the "Federal Interlink" sequences, a series of televison 'adverts', something he pioneered with in Robocop. The action is well directed, but the first 30 minutes are horribly done, almost directed like a television programme. The screenplay, based on a book by Robert A. Heinlein, is pretty bad, mainly because it set's up all these characters, and then forgets about their backgrounds when the war against the bugs actually begin.

Starship Troopers, then, although mostly fun, has some major flaws that affect it. Perhaps if the first half hour had been cut, it would of been more enjoyable. If you can get past this, and some other dull parts during the war, you'll probably enjoy this film, especially if you were looking for an outragesouly violent action movie. Just don't expect a good script, a strong plot and excitement straight from the start. Just about recommended.

Copyright 1997 David Wilcock

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