Starship Troopers charts the lives of elite members of the Mobile Infantry, a corps of dedicated young men and women soldiers fighting side-by-side in the ultimate intergalactic war... the battle to save humankind. The ene... more »my is mysterious and incredibly powerful with only one mission: survival of their species no matter what the human cost.« less
"So says Paul Verhoeven, who has said (and says again in the commentary on this DVD release) that it's one of the statements made by this morally complex film.
I love listening to Verhoeven's commentaries (especially the one he does with Arnold Schwarzenegger on _Total Recall_). Here he shares the task with screenwriter Ed Neumeier, and putting the two of them together was an excellent choice. The commentary is one of the best features of the special edition.
The film itself is hard to evaluate. Because it's Verhoeven, it's got sex, gore, and social satire. What it's also got -- and something that was arguably missing from the Robert A. Heinlein novel on which the film is based -- is a high level of moral complexity that doesn't divide everyone neatly into Good Guys and Bad Guys.
The effect is odd, and oddly disturbing. On one hand, the film succeeds quite well as a combat shoot-'em-up in the style of the great World War II films. At that level, if we like, we can take the 'bugs' of Klendathu, playing as they do into our 'natural' loathing of insects, as a politically correct version of the sort of enemy Heinlein probably intended. (As long as we don't take the film's incompetent 'military action' too seriously.)
On the other hand, the film also contains lots of sly references to the Third Reich, lots of little clues that suggest the 'bugs' didn't start the war, and lots of opportunities for the characters _and_ the audience to conclude that war may not be the best way to approach the problem here at issue.
Okay, this latter stuff is a huge departure from Heinlein's novel, which was primarily focused on what makes military folks tick and what it means to be a responsible citizen. Heinlein's civics lesson is duly incorporated into the film, of course: a 'citizen' is one who takes personal responsibility for the safety and well-being of the body politic. But the film doesn't stop there.
In fact, it incorporates elements that could have come from two other SF novels that have been read as responses to _Starship Troopers_, namely, Joe Haldeman's _The Forever War_ and Orson Scott Card's _Ender's Game_. I don't _know_ that Neumeier had either of these novels in mind, but there's an important reference to Mormons in the screenplay that in this context might suggest Card. Be that as it may, Heinlein's civics lesson is here subjected to severe scrutiny and even dark satire.
That's okay by me. I regard _Starship Troopers_ as one of RAH's better novels (and as a success in its exploration of the military-man-coming-of-age mindset; I can see why military readers like it so well). Nevertheless there are problems with it that a straightforward screen adaptation wouldn't have been able to address. Neumeier and Verhoeven address those problems precisely by exaggerating them and sometimes openly ridiculing them -- while still managing to remain sensitive to the integrity of the military outlook.
Such nuance may unfortunately be lost on much of the film's audience. Heinlein fans may either disapprove of Verhoeven's approach or miss it altogether; viewers who haven't read their Heinlein may not even be aware that there's an argument going on (and mistake this gorefest for nothing more than an earlier version of _Independence Day_).
That's too bad, because this well-scripted, special-effects-laden film is a cinematic triumph on several levels -- only one of which is the gut-wrenching battle between humans and bugs. Verhoeven has long been clear that this film is _not_ an endorsement of either war itself or the fascistic society it tends to promote; that this isn't just obvious is a testament to Verhoeven's subtlety and, indeed, his _refusal_ to engage in 'propaganda' of the sort he satirizes.
It's an odd film in the sense that, in order to like it properly, you have to dislike it. If you enjoy it too much, you're missing the point its director wanted it to make."
I'm amazed that so many people miss the point !
Mike Gambit | UK | 01/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm amazed that so many people can blindly miss the subtleties of this movie. While it works as a brainless, enjoyable gung-ho piece of sci-fi cum war hokum it's also quite a clever piece of satire, taking a pot-shot squarely aimed at the kind of control that governments, regardless of ideology, exert over their populace. While the spoofed propaganda TV commercials most obviously display the parody in this movie, one can also see it littered throughout the movie. The director has chosen to ape Nazism as it's an extreme view of what can happen when a government has a strong grip on its people, because of his childhood experience being under Nazism and because by cloaking the heroes of the movie in Nazism he shows a self-mocking sense of ironic humor.Like...Johnny Rico being a blonde, blue-eyed Aryan. While Van Dien's abilities as an actor are frequently ridiculed at there's no doubt that he is perfect for this movie's take on the character. He *looks* like an actor straight from WWII German and Soviet propaganda films and indeed that is exactly what he's supposed to appear like.Ok let's clear up some other points:-BAD ACTING:-It's not bad acting. Bad acting implies that the actor does not bring fully to life the character he/she is playing or overplays the part ect ect. The characters in ST are supposed to be parodies, tongue-in-check cardboard cutouts. Given that all the actors in ST play their roles pretty well. That they are all very pretty (especially Dina Meyer) is the intention. Like any good propaganda it shows people whom we'd like to be or be with trying to become citizens and succeeding, whilst following the 'state line'. The love triangle is thrown in there for entertainment value and it works in a cheesy way.DIALOGUE:-I fail to see how intelligent people can so miss the point of the dialogue. It's cheesy because it's parody, because it apes political propaganda and laughs at it. The dialogue is perfectly suited to the mood of the film as a whole. There are very few wasted lines in this movie and I won't waste *my* time trying to point them out to you if you didn't 'get' them.STUPID PLOT:-Guess what? Yep here comes the parody bit again. People point out that the military tactics in this movie are laughable and they are perfectly correct. But... Don't you think the military tactics are just too stupid to be there as a result of incompetence or sloppiness on the part of Verhoeven - I mean it doesn't take a budding Guderian, Napoleon or a Sun Tze to know that just using machine guns when you have orbital nukes, cluster bombs, mines, armor ect is just plain stupid. But the whole point of the film is self-parody at governments, who see the people as their tool, to be manipulated and scarified for the 'greater good' of the nation, or in this case the species.LACK OF RESPECT FOR ROBERT HEINLEIN'S BOOK:-I feel many distracters of the film simply do so because they expected a faithful recreation of the book. While that's disappointing for you try and see the film for its merits. It really only borrows from Heinlien's book in superficial terms; to set the scene, the basic plot and basic outlines of the characters. Surely you can see that it never was an attempt to seriously follow the book. Instead Verhoeven chose to follow his own path and make his own movie. Try and see it for that...Anyway to sum up; the movie is loud, entertaining, gory, packed full of good looking leads and sci-fi fx, but also very subtle and clever. People who dismiss this movie out of hand as mindless nonsense completely miss the point. Godzilla is mindless nonsense. Independence Day is mindless nonsense.Starship Troopers instead is a very well-made, clever movie, which has a tongue-in-cheek gibe at the way governments can and will manipulate their populace for the 'good of the state'. I wonder whether any American hollywood director would have had the balls to make it this way."
Need Extended Memory to Load
A Reviewer | 04/12/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"You must have extended memory loaded to play. All copies are the same, so there is no use exchanging it. I was waiting on my second copy when I found a HD forum talking about the loading problem. The forum members determined the problem is the way the disk was authored. The disk looks for enough memory to support the BD Live content even when BD Live is not enabled. I tried the second copy I received and it would not load either. I updated my firmware and it still would not play. I put a flash drive in my Sony BD S350 and the second copy loaded fine. The bottom line is you need to add extended memory to load this disk, whether your player takes an SD Card, Flash Drive, or whatever.
As far as the movie goes, I would have given it 5 stars if not for this issue with the disk. It's a great action flick with great special effects that look even more awesome on blu-ray. Excellent satire of blind alligence to government and military. I didn't read the book, so I don't have a problem with it not being true to the original story.
Highly recommended, just realize you will need to load extended memory to play."
Incredible special effects and yes, there is a story.
Mike Gambit | 10/20/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Imagine being trapped on a barren planet with thousands of fiteen-foot tall ants swarming towards you. You'd better have plenty of fire-power. And lots of friends with the same. This is an exciting, visually spectacular war movie with a relentlesss foe that few could feel remorse at killing. The movie introduces a number of insect species whose combined strength is social as well as biological. We get to see a number of insect types, each terrifying in their own way. The film only hints that there are others. What kind of bug can send a meteor all the way across a galaxy? The movie's plot also hints at a lot of ideas, obviously remnants of Heinlein's orginal book. The principal characters, all teenagers, live in an idyllic, yet fascist society that promotes violence as strength. That violence is directed outward, towards a common foe. The story follows the naive adolescents as they go through military training and then find themselves at war with giant bugs from space. Civil rights are granted only to those that survive their military service. The parallel with the insect society can't be a coincidence. Okay, okay, it's just a movie. Like any science fiction film, it can't do justice to the original material. If you want an exciting war film with lots of great special effects, see this movie. If you really want to think, READ A BOOK!"
Buff Bods, Big Guns, & Bugs: Friendly Fascism in Troopers
S. Hall | NW Ohio, USA | 01/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No stranger to the nuances of speculative fiction as seen through the camera lens, Paul Verhoeven throws controversy into most of his productions, including the increased violence of Robocop and the continually questioned reality of Total Recall. Starship Troopers is no exception to this trend, creating a very distinctive schism in film criticism between those who saw it as an endorsement of a pro-military stance and those who consider it to be a wry attack on the ideas it purports. Both groups keyed in on the visual appeal of the film and formed their opinions based on their perceptions of audience reaction. In choosing to adapt Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel, Verhoeven creates a film which manages to simultaneously negotiate the controversy and add to it. Verhoeven concentrates on the visual pleasures inherent in this future of killing, raiding the casts of various soap operas (and linking the thrill of viewed combat with the voyeurism of attractive people) for his characters to exemplify the portrayal of killing the enemy as a glamorous occupation in most war films. As an intelligent satire of war films, the dialogue is filled with ironic machismo that implicates media from WWII era recruitment films (both US and German) to coverage by CNN. Through the "breaking news" appearing in the film, Verhoeven plays with the societal changes as speculated by Heinlein, or what Heinlein called "a democracy in which the poll tax is putting in a term of voluntary service--which could be as a garbage collector." While the troopers are out there cleaning up the galaxy, Verhoeven deliberately invokes Nazi imagery - including copying shot compositions from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of Will and World War II newsreels like Prelude to War - as an integrated part of the film's microcosm; the attainment of this bright future is not without a hidden cost. Verhoeven throws the audience headfirst into Starship Troopers without defusing any of the controversial landmines which pepper the different layers of this seductive dystopia.Perhaps only echoes of the novel's controversial political subtext have survived, and yes, the film may occasionally falter as social satire as the "two parts ultra-violence" component of Verhoeven's film formula is overamped and coupled with the fascistic imagery; even one of the film's producers, Jon Davison, has referred to the veteranocracy of Starship Troopers as a "fascist utopia", which has to be one of the boldest representations of a future world ever filmed. As a cheeky futuristic hybrid of Saved by the Bell and The Green Berets, the snippets from the recruiting videos and news bulletins (deftly used in the previous film Robocop) show that Verhoeven has dished up a "really tasty" (in a Naked Lunch fashion) propaganda period piece for the American film system using many of its own World War II conceits. Taking a different turn from the "combat science fiction" so adroitly exemplified in Cameron's Aliens, Starship Troopers invites discussion of the imagery and military/political rhetoric laden in the film. Goebbel himself perceived the weakness of propaganda in the face of education, as evidenced through his speech at the Berlin Krolloper in 1937 where he said, "At the moment that propaganda is recognized as such it becomes ineffective."As for the DVD treatment, this is a first-class disc, loaded to the brim with lots of amazing extras. Pay particular attention to Verhoeven's commentary as you watch the film. The additional materials will give you an interesting insight into the world of cinema. In terms of technical specifications, the 5.1 Dolby sound will rock the foundations of your house, and the quality of the transfer is one of the best I've seen (the CGI looks amazing). A superb film, both in terms of technical prowess and content."