|STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997)|
Casper Van Dien
Neil Patrick Harris
|"This is for you new people. I only have one rule: everyone fights, no one quits. If you don't do your job, I'll shoot you. Do you get me?"|
|Time: 129 mins.|
Genre: Science Fiction/Action
All I have to say about my going to see this movie that I knew was going to be bad was that one should never succumb to peer pressure. Staring at a blank wall for two hours would have been less damaging to my psyche. The plot and acting are so bad you can't help but laugh. Robert A. Heinlein should sue them for destroying his reputation as a decent science fiction writer. The film plays like a video game with fast action, brutal violence, buxom females and brainless warriors, which wouldn't be terribly bad if it was done well.
The only thing that was remotely good about the movie, were the effects, which were good, but were nothing spectacularly original. The best stuff was when the starships crashed into one another. That's what you get with rookies at the controls. It's like trying to park a cadillac in a motorcycle spot. If you're driving a vehicle the size of two football fields you might want to keep some distance from the other ships just in case you need to manuveur quickly. However, if they did that we wouldn't have exciting explosions to look at.
Since there wasn't much of a plot, I'll sum it up: Young military troops battle evil aliens for control of the universe. Some die, some don't. They throw in the requisite love triangle, gruff commander, young buck out to prove he's the best, et cetera. All situations you've seen before done better. Verhoeven tries to make the film more interesting by adding satirical news pieces in between the action to help illuminate and intrigue the audience about this future society. The problem with them is that they're more interesting than the real portions of the film. I desperately wanted to "learn more" instead of going back to the battling bugs.
The film tries to make joining the military into the highest honor in the universe, but until they dream up better weapons than machine guns and hand grenades they're on their own. It's amazing the human race lasted so long. We can travel around the universe, yet new warfare technologies allude us? This is just one of many poorly executed aspects of the tale. Sure, the story was written in the 1950's, but since they threw out most of it anyway, why be a stickler on that point? Granted it makes the stakes much higher for our fighting men, but never really adds suspense or excitement to the proceedings. Once you've seen one soldier get impaled on a giant CGI spider leg you've seen it all.
The acting is worse than anything you've seen on the WB Network. The money clearly went into the special effects. Frankly, Screech from Saved By the Bell is a better actor than this lot. One note, over-the-top, comic book melodrama. Like a space soap opera. The only person to keep their dignity is Michael Ironsides, who at least manages to create an interesting character. How Van Dein could play Johnny Rico with a straight face I'll never know. Every time I heard the name I thought of Greg Brady as Johnny Bravo. Maybe he, like everyone else in the audience, was just so enthralled by Denise Richard's breasts he didn't realize how awful the dialogue or plot really was.
I wouldn't normally bring something like this up, but they were so prominent they should have gotten a supporting actor credit. The biggest gyp of the film is that she doesn't bare all. Clearly, it's the reason she was cast. This being her first major role, it wasn't for her reputation as an actress. I'm sure the script cleared up all delusions on that front. Why take the high road when all the other actresses in the film are forced to be naked? Senseless nudity is the only thing that kept this movie interesting. Her's would at least have made the trip to the cineplex worthwhile. Just another thing about this movie that doesn't live up to the hype.
STARSHIP TROOPERS leaves a bad taste in your mouth, like you've done something bad and this is your penance. It's no wonder Verhoeven had to cast unknowns. Anyone with a career would have sterilized themselves after reading this script, if there even was one. It's sad to see what money can do to a once great director. He claims that it wasn't to be taken seriously, that it was satire. Please. Everyone knows that's the fallback position for filmmakers whose movies are funny when they weren't meant to be. My advice Paul, wait for something with an actual plot before you start shooting your next picture.