by Mel Valentin
The word “execrable” doesn’t even begin to describe "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder," the DTV (direct-to-video) sequel to "Starship Troopers: Hero of the Federation" (the 2004 DTV sequel to the 1997 big-budget, live-action adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s science fiction novel, "Starship Troopers"). With the production values to match a DTV budget, plus (or rather minus) a suspense-free, clichéd storyline that adds nothing to the Starship Troopers universe (outside of a planet-sized brain bug and seemingly endless discussion of deities and faith), "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder" is, simply put, abysmal. Even with the return of "Starship Troopers" writer, Edward Neumeier ("RoboCop"), taking on directing chores here, and the return of the under-employed Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico, it’s hard to imagine why anyone, outside of the three or four diehard fans of the first film still out there, would bother with "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder."Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is set some time after the “Bug War” featured in Starship Troopers ended in a stalemate between the Federation, Earth's fascist government, and the Arachnids, an insect race, over colonial territory. The “hero” of the first film, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), has been in the Marines long enough to rise in the ranks from cadet to colonel. He prefers battling the Arachnids in the field than sitting behind a desk. To that end, he’s been assigned to an Outer Planets colony, Roku San. While the warrior Bugs amass outside the camp’s electrified perimeter, Rico prepares for the arrival of Sky Marshal Anoke (Stephen Hogan), the supreme leader of the Federation. An old friend of Rico’s, Dix Hauzer (Boris Kodjoe), now a general and aide to the sky marshal, and a former girlfriend, Lola Beck (Jolene Blalock), a pilot and Dix’s current girlfriend, are also aboard the sky marshal’s shuttle.
"All copies of this abysmal DTV sequel should be burned."
All hell breaks lose (as it should, otherwise Starship Troopers 3: Marauder would be stuck in neutral) when the electric fences go down and the Arachnids pour into the outpost. While Rico survives an Arachnid attack on the outpost attack, he refuses to follow orders he considers immoral and unethical. He's court-martialed and sentenced to death. Anoke, Lola, and several others manage to escape Roku San aboard the sky marshal’s shuttle, but end up crash landing on an uncharted Bug planet, OM-1, moments after a saboteur sets off explosive charges aboard the sky marshal's ship. The Arachnid-fodder includes Bull Brittles (Stelio Savante), the crew chief, Holly Little (Marnette Patterson), a flight attendant, Jingo Ryan (Jon Falkow), the cook (seriously, the cook makes it to "safety"), and Dr. Wiggs (Danny Keogh), the sky marshal’s physician. Dix saves Rico from execution and, despite contrary orders from Admiral Enolo Phid (Amanda Donohoe), sends Rico and a mecha-powered squad (the "Marauder" of the title), to save Anoke and Lola from the Arachnids.
While Starship Troopers 3: Marauder is an improvement, budget and story wise, on Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation, that’s the equivalent of damning with the faintest of faint praise. Cheaply made, sloppily written, clumsily directed, and poorly acted, Starship Troopers 3: Marauder makes Starship Troopers look like a masterpiece. It's not (far from it, actually), but with Paul Verhoeven (Show Girls, Basic Instinct, Robocop, Soldier of Orange) at the helm and a blockbuster-sized budget, it at least looked good. It didn’t hurt that Starship Troopers satirized militarism, nationalism, and fascism while providing less politically or ideological moviegoers with plenty of gratuitous gore, violence, and action. Neumeier's attempt to add religious satire to the mix fails miserably (it's broad, offensive, and obnoxious).There’s plenty of blame to go around, of course, from writer/director Edward Neumeier, who should never, under any circumstances, direct another feature film again (writing wise, he did give us “Robocop” and Starship Troopers,” so he gets a mini-pass there), to his producers, whoever they are, and their unwillingness to provide "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder" with anything approaching a reasonable budget, and to the actors, including Casper Van Dien (giving the worst line readings of his career) and Jolene Blalock (so good on "Star Trek: Enterprise," so bad here). That said, there isn’t a legitimate reason to recommend "Starship Troopers 3: Marauder" as a rental unless (a) you’re a diehard "Starship Troopers" fan, (b) a glutton for DTV punishment or (c) both. If you don't fall into any of those categories, then you're better off either revisiting "Starship Troopers" or taking a chance on something, anything different. You'll be grateful when you do.
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originally posted: 08/04/08 15:04:51