Film Review – Starship Troopers (1997)

Title – Starship Troopers

Director – Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct)

Cast – Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown, Jake Busey, Seth Gilliam, Michael Ironside

Plot – In a future war between man and space bug a group of keen American fighters finish high school and set their sights on helping mankind win the intergalactic war once and for all.

“My mother always told me that violence doesn’t solve anything”

Review by Eddie on 23/06/2020

Budgeted at a huge $100 million dollars plus, its safe to say in retrospect not everyone got the vibe of Paul Verhoeven’s big budgeted satirical take on Robert A. Heinlein’s popular book of the same name, with many critics unable to stomach its seemingly intentional wooden acting, over the top violence and full-blown satire of the American military regime and gung-ho attitude but in the years following its initial release, Verhoeven’s spectacle driven blockbuster has garnered a significant following of fans.

Spawning a collection of direct to video sequels that are better off never thought about, Trooper’s throws subtlety out the window as it introduces us to a militaristic future where mankind is waging war at home and across the galaxy against a race of alien bugs hellbent on colonizing Earth for their own purposes, with Verhoeven marching full steam ahead at all times as his flesh and gore-filled event rolls along without an ounce of care for stopping and smelling any type of roses, instead choosing to trample on them on its way past.

Introducing us to the new world order through some news clips and advertisements (not dissimilar to those we saw in another Verhoeven satire Sci-Fi Robocop), Trooper’s doesn’t waste too much time on its set-up as we are then introduced to our films main players, Casper Van Dien’s Johnny Rico (this man’s jaw-line is hard to look away from), Denise Richard’s wannabe pilot Carmen Ibanez and Dina Meyer’s Dizzy Flores, all graduating students set on joining the fight against their buggy enemies.

It’s not unfair to say all performers here deliver their lines and inhabit their characters as if they are being fed lines of dialogue off camera, with Van Dien making his counterpart Van Damme seem like an Oscar winning thespian but mostly their stilted and unenthusiastic performances suit the films nature, a nature that is never too far away from a set-piece or moment of computer generated/proptastic bug attack.

The films biggest strength and one that can’t be denied is even in this day and age of computer wizardry much of Trooper’s big moments still work thanks to some fantastically realized CGI work and molding together with some great creature props.

Many films of the 90’s era have aged terribly in these departments but Trooper’s ageless space battles and limb-flinging wars have managed to remain entertaining and thrilling, offering up respite from many of the films moments of badly worded dialogue and uninteresting romantic interludes that could’ve easily bought the film down to dark depths of Razzie worthy notoriety.

Final Say – 

Far from what you would call classy cinema or deep thinking sci-fi, Starship Troopers is still a whole lot of fun, with a bitingly self-aware examination of fascist military operations firmly in its sights at all times, making this a film that remains relevant and entertaining to this day.

3 blind teachers out of 5 

11 responses to “Film Review – Starship Troopers (1997)

  1. I would love to see another R rated film of this scope again. I love that the ending is just so dystopian, no one really ended up better off but the cogs of the machine will keep going.

    • It’s a film very much of its time. You don’t see many blockbuster’s like this anymore! Would love to see Verhoven do another big scale Sci-fi.

  2. I really like this movie. As you write up top, it’s satire. Over-the-top satire. I find the story works great (including the romances), and the acting is appropriate to the material. Had it been meant to be serious, it would’ve been beyond bad. But not only is it a riot, it also looks great. Certainly up there with Galaxy Quest, another SF comedy that I enjoy.

    • I would be interested to gage how many people go into the film not expecting it to be so satirical. It’s a a very fun watch.

  3. Watched this again recently. Very smart movie. Can’t figure out if Van Dien is a misunderstood acting genius who has been badly miscast ever since this or if he’s just rubbish.

  4. Pingback: Film Review – Starship Troopers (1997) — Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys) – Chicago FEEDBACK Film Festival·

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