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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 30.88%
Just Average: 16.59%
Pretty Crappy: 7.83%
Sucks: 7.37%

11 reviews, 151 user ratings

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Starship Troopers
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by Mel Valentin

"Ode to fascism, critique thereof or kick-ass sci-fi actioner?"
5 stars

It’s difficult to imagine what studio executives were thinking when they greenlit Paul Verhoeven’s ("Showgirls," "Basic Instinct," "Total Recall," "Robocop," "Flesh + Blood," "The Fourth Man," "Soldier of Orange") adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s Hugo Award-winning science fiction/war novel, "Starship Troopers." They obviously wanted another "Star Wars" (like every other studio and studio executive). Verhoeven and his screenwriter, Edward Neumeier ("Robocop") Critics derided Verhoeven’s adaptation as an apologia for fascism (it wasn’t) and audiences rejected the idiosyncratic mix of teen melodrama, campy, satirical tone (praised by some, accurately), gore-soaked war film, and effects-heavy science fiction/action film. "Starship Troopers" failed to become Hollywood’s next, great franchise, earning back roughly half of a reported $105 million budget during its domestic box-office run in 1997.

Starship Troopers centers on Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien, selected for his looks more than his acting talent), a semi-bright, high school jock and prime beneficiary of everything a Future Fascist Utopia™ has to offer. In this Future Fascist Utopia™, citizenship is a privilege, not a right, a privilege obtainable only through military service. What citizenship gives you in a Future Fascist Utopia™, however, is never explained in any detail. Citizens are, presumably, allowed to vote, but voting, if it happens, seems to play little or no part in how government leaders, indistinguishable from the military, are chosen. However decisions are made, Rico lives in material comfort. Service, reinforced by frequent doses of government-created propaganda, lies in Rico’s future (this despite his parents’, both non-citizens, objections). In other, supposedly relatable ways, Rico’s a typical high school jock: He dates one of the most attractive, if vapid, girls in the school, Carmen Ibanez (Denise Richards, bland, blank), while another, Dizzy Flores (Dina Meyer), openly lusts after him. His best friend, Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris), isn’t a jock, but a promising psychic and, thus, a future member of the Future Fascist Utopia’s™ elite.

Future Fascist Utopias™, however, can only exist when they (a) suppress dissent, through propaganda and, if necessary, state-sanctioned violence, (b) actively search for and engages external enemies (real or imaginary), the better to create and reinforce nationalist- and ideology-based solidarity. The Future Fascist Utopia™ found in Starship Troopers finds the perfect enemy in the Arachnids, jumbo-sized insect aliens located on the other side of the galaxy. Conflict over territory between humans and the Arachnids escalates when human colonists (described as “Mormon extremists” by an off-camera narrator during a Fed-Net broadcast) settle on an Arachnid planet. The Arachnids decimate the colonists and, as a warning against future attempts at colonization, redirect an asteroid, sending it hurtling toward Earth. The asteroid obliterates Buenos Aires, Rico’s hometown.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s rewind to the 20-minute or half-hour mark where (and when) Starship Troopers switches from saccharine high school melodrama to combat training (a.k.a., boot camp). Rico’s poor grades left him with exactly one choice for military service, the Mobile Infantry. Along with Flores, who joins him mid-training, Rico’s trained by a career drill instructor, Sgt. Zim (Clancy Brown, over-the-top, as, presumably, directed by Verhoeven). Only Ace Levy (Jake “son of Jake” Busey), another raw recruit, survives the initial and subsequent campaigns against the Arachnids. The other, mostly generic, if coed, recruits, are, as expected, Arachnid fodder, dying in gruesome, graphic manner, making the point, an obvious one, but one still worth making, that war has little regard for dreams, ambitions, or physical appearance.

Military leaders decide to invade Klendathu, the Arachnids’ home world first, a decision that ultimately proves disastrous. The military’s lack of preparation, due in no small part to hubris, play significant roles in that first, devastating defeat, as clear a critique of military arrogance and incompetence as you’ll find in a big-budget blockbuster wannabe (made, to be fair, palatable by the futuristic setting). Rico also makes a mistake during pre-combat training and it almost results in leaving the MI, but the tragic, if fortuitous, destruction of Buenos Aires, converts him into one of the MI’s prime killing machine. The romantic melodrama returns with Ibanez, now the co-pilot of a sizable outer-space cruiser, and her pilot boyfriend, Zander Barcalow (Patrick Muldoon, also blank, bland), but that’s really just a distraction from Verhoeven’s larger purpose, to satirize fascism, to satirize war-mongering, to satirize the dehumanization (literal here) and demonization that war-mongering entails, and ultimately, to critique moviegoers who take pleasure from the realistic depiction of violence on film.

Verhoeven’s larger points, however, were missed both by critics, who criticized him for romanticizing fascism (a claim he wouldn’t deny, but only to set-up his own critique) and for inflicting gratuitous carnage on multiplex audiences (carnage, yes, gratuitous, no). That he also made a film with state-of-the-art visual effects, effects that (mostly) retain their persuasiveness fourteen years later, and directed visceral battle scenes were also held against him when, in fact, the opposite was true. Seen, correctly, as political, cultural, and military satire and not as romanticizing or fetishizing fascism, incorrectly, as well as, ideology aside, an action war film with a science fiction setting, :Starship Troopers" is a film worthy of revisiting repeatedly, a film deserving of its well-earned cult status.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=343&reviewer=402
originally posted: 03/01/11 16:54:55
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User Comments

10/29/16 morris campbell 2 long but good gory sci-fi fun 4 stars
1/07/16 David Hollingsworth cheesy, but good cheesy 4 stars
11/07/14 Dan Palacios A sci-fi version of the 911 to Iraqi invasion trope. Terrifying prophecy. Ass-Plasma indeed 5 stars
7/20/12 Sean Harrison Good action scenes, but terrible adaptation of Robert Heinlen's original novel. 3 stars
8/07/11 Chris F Brilliant film never get bored watching it 5 stars
8/01/11 art IT"S MY KIND OF MOVIE!,MAGNIFICENT! 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles PURE LOVE FOR THIS FILM 5 stars
4/20/11 Maya Jewell A truly awful waste of time. 1 stars
3/25/11 M. Rogers This is still a fun movie to watch. 5 stars
3/03/11 brian "The only good bug is a dead bug." Amen. 5 stars
9/05/10 Bellering Plain Just saw it in a theatre two nights ago....in 2010 !! A sublime guilty plezzure for sure. 4 stars
1/03/10 Jeff Wilder A perfectly entertaining guilty pleasure. 4 stars
12/17/08 Man Out 6 Bucks A film Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini would love 1 stars
10/21/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
8/27/08 michael thomas enjoyed it, would like to get the dvd one day 4 stars
8/15/08 Jago There are two kinds of people; those who love this movie and those that didn't get it. 5 stars
8/04/08 King 1 This movie is totally COOL! ...sadly has some really bad sequels 5 stars
5/17/08 paul evans Robert Heinlen wrote the original story,the movie held it together well. 4 stars
5/09/08 Jim Raynor Wicked Masterful Entertainment 5 stars
8/02/07 itchmr campy spoof of army, space & western films - addictive 4 stars
7/14/07 action movie fan a bit redundant but great battle scenes though extremely gory 4 stars
7/14/07 Vincent Ebriega Enjoyable, action packed cheese. 3.5/5. 4 stars
6/22/07 Mike I have a bet with a buddy. Do you get to see Denise Richards boobs in this movie? 3 stars
6/20/07 Ronin Surprisingly good. 4 stars
6/11/07 al smith cracking film shame denise richards didn't get her huge bangers out 4 stars
5/21/07 Indrid Cold Just like Verhoeven's Robocop: a great mixture of action, FX, and satire. 5 stars
4/17/07 Stevo The fighting bits were absolutley badass, but y add a love story? 5 stars
4/09/07 David Pollastrini Great fx 4 stars
1/08/07 R.W.Welch Liked the bugs, but neither the comedy nor the drama are very effective. 3 stars
12/19/06 Akabusi Masterful satire of fascist militarism, propaganda and human stupidity. 5 stars
10/02/06 Jeremy Davies The best movie I have ever seen without a plot 4 stars
2/21/06 Ruff I wonder how many people twig to the political satire in this 5 stars
10/30/05 Ronin not bad between average and worth a look 4 stars
10/10/05 fabius maximus good movie 5 stars
8/11/05 ES The part where the kids are squishing cockroaches is too funny = join the mobile inf! 5 stars
7/30/05 Adam I would have liked to see Denise Richards naked, why the fuck not???? 3 stars
7/19/05 Dan "why wasnt denise richards naked?"--That's a good fucking question she had the biggest tits 5 stars
7/02/05 Eddie Wicked good movie 5 stars
6/16/05 Janeywaney I thought I was the only one who liked this 5 stars
3/12/05 Alice Colwell not bad 3 stars
2/05/05 Tom Benton Well-done, entertaining and often funny science fiction adventure. 4 stars
1/22/05 Allen ok, so the acting sucked...it was still pretty cool..why wasnt denise richards naked? 4 stars
12/24/04 Alfie "I see...ace of spades!" You have to watch carefully to understand this movie. 5 stars
12/15/04 paul No, not RIO!! 4 stars
12/09/04 Jason Kaul At least there was nudity. Otherwise it amazes me that this film spawned a sequal. 2 stars
10/21/04 caspar N Too much high school drama 2 stars
10/11/04 Vince This movie ROCKS! Period. 5 stars
7/27/04 Cass Killing, violence, bloodshed, decapitation..Ignore the plot. KICK SOME ASS! 5 stars
7/22/04 DM A terminally stupid, atrociously acted catastrophe 1 stars
7/14/04 John McIntyre The only good bug is a dead bug 4 stars
6/25/04 milehigh Good squishy fun. 4 stars
6/18/04 Denise Duspiva better story then you would think 5 stars
6/14/04 PR Communal showers- Yeepie the future looks rosy 5 stars
5/31/04 Frazier Disgusting movie that uses carnal pleasures to sell. Worst movie that I've seen. 1 stars
5/19/04 Borg453 I think the review has a bout about the B-Class acting. 4 stars
5/17/04 Jack Sommersby Mammothly entertaining. Perfect blend of gore, humor, and spirit. 5 stars
5/17/04 Idiot's Mouth Killing CGI bugs only works for a few scenes. Book better, though shameless plug for Army. 2 stars
4/25/04 Vicious Aliens did a similar thing better, but this was fun. 4 stars
4/11/04 Bob I watched it a second time, and STILL I think it's good. 5 stars
4/07/04 Sig We should've seen Denise Ricahrds in the nude, not Dina Meyer 5 stars
2/25/04 Dr.Lecter Almost spectacular, but disgraceful acting tainted it for me 3 stars
11/29/03 john a cynical but accurate depiction of facism from the inside out - good sfx too! 4 stars
10/23/03 Bapts Its funny to see that almost no one here understood the sarcasm that made this film so grea 5 stars
8/30/03 gigimaletti Almost a perfect film.. aliens, violence, big guns.. a bit more sex and it could be N.1 5 stars
8/06/03 marc_ian_a Excellent ! (5 stars) :) 5 stars
7/17/03 Animator dude Fucking hilarious movie 5 stars
5/11/03 Jack Bourbon Great mindless gore-fest. Like the pitiful topless girl with the egg-titties. 4 stars
4/14/03 me iAM WITH YOU TAD IT WAS BAD 1 stars
3/02/03 Jack Sommersby A mammohtly entertaining sci-fi with loads of color and laughs and gore! 5 stars
12/22/02 3man Nothing like the book but seeing Dina Meyer's boobs makes up for it. 3 stars
12/21/02 Pigwidgeon Here's a hint ... Verhoeven made it into a SATIRE ... better than the book version! 5 stars
11/27/02 Lady who hates romantic comedies Hot bods, big guns, giant bugs and Michael Ironside - what's not to love? Dina Meyer rules! 5 stars
11/23/02 Sweetgrrl1972 They don't think. They don't moralize. They just shoot bugs. Fucking Awsome. 5 stars
10/03/02 Alex Flynn I think the mobile infantry should invest in better military hardware. Crappy-Ass Guns 2 stars
8/16/02 scott a good film 4 stars
7/19/02 artemishia was it just me or did that last giant smart bug look like a huge vagina? 4 stars
4/05/02 Dave MacDougall retarded enough to offend retarded people.... 1 stars
2/27/02 Alan Smithee Easily some of the best CGI effects I've seen yet. and the redheaded chick was hot. 4 stars
2/25/02 Mark Lloyd Instant cult film. You either love it or hate it. I loved it 5 stars
2/21/02 Skywise I liked the book better, but it WAS a great rollercoaster ride and worth the money 4 stars
1/13/02 Andrew Carden The Special Effects Are Good, but It's Very Goofy and Has A Confusing Plot. 3 stars
12/08/01 Monster W. Kung Really sick satire, it's hard not to root for the bugs in this one. 3 stars
9/26/01 Xerox Verhoven is da du-rek-ta! 5 stars
9/25/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This movie is one of the most... KICK ASS OF ALL KICK ASS MOVIES EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/23/01 Jim Flying dismembered body parts interrupted by the occasional philosophical discussion 4 stars
8/20/01 P.Rodriguez 2nd best movie eva.4 those who don't like the film, remember take a film 4 whats it's worth 5 stars
7/27/01 TheFirkin Great Effects, lots of gore, silly acting but who cares! I was there for fun and I got it! 5 stars
7/06/01 Indelusia Root for the bugs! A great propoganda film. 4 stars
6/07/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) I love this movie, goddamn it. Some of us seem jaded by all the TRULY bad sci-fi out there 5 stars
5/07/01 Gracy Lionheart Not bad/not good either. I personally liked the original book much better. 3 stars
5/04/01 The Moorhen Jake Busey rocks. I wish he was my best friend. God I'm so lonely. *SOB* 5 stars
3/01/01 Steve in Prague once again teen movie critic II is a dumb ass little bitch who knows NOTHING 5 stars
2/27/01 Jason M. This movie is all about dark humor and a fun ride - enjoy. 5 stars
2/26/01 jk great and any one who says different is gay and knows nothing 5 stars
2/23/01 Elladan I spit upon this movie, an insult to Heinlein's name. Vorhoeven, you are dead to me. 1 stars
1/08/01 fifu this is a modern day B movie (the aliens eat there brains) 2 stars
12/26/00 fifu well Rodriguez sucks. this is one of the worst movies i have ever seen(aliens eat brains?) 1 stars
10/15/00 wrob The social commentary was probably lost on the audience. Excellent effects. 5 stars
9/22/00 Terrie Smith Not much on plot and especially the acting but the computer graphics were great. 4 stars
7/31/00 Bruce Not for the sqeamish, but it is a wild ride 5 stars
7/30/00 Will Mays 100% communal showers. i gotta try that sometime 2 stars
5/03/00 P.Rodriguez 2nd BEST FILM EVER!! (only Gataca beats it) 5 stars
4/06/00 Gremlin Tell me again why they just didn't nuke the whole hell hole. Kick ass movie! 5 stars
4/05/00 Meat Popsicle It SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! 1 stars
3/24/00 DJ If you ignore the fact that there was a book before, a fairly decent movie 4 stars
3/16/00 Lame-Oh much better than the genuinely pathetic Wing Commander 4 stars
3/03/00 Richard Wright Funny satire and exciting (but gory) action sequences make this well worth watching. 4 stars
2/05/00 Kyle Broflovski I saw "Showgirls." I burned Verhoeven at the stake. I saw this. All was forgiven. :-) 5 stars
1/09/00 Will that was almost satirical, in a way. Okay, in a small way. Very small. 5 stars
12/13/99 little jerry Verhoeven can do no wrong.(inc.Showgirls).Spielberg must have seen this when planning RYAN. 5 stars
9/18/99 Ratso Don't talk about Carmen that way! 5 stars
9/05/99 godsdog The only good thing about this film is Dina Meyer, she's got it. Film failed at everything 2 stars
5/11/99 Ghost Awesome movie. Not accurate to the book in some senses, but in others it is. 4 stars
5/08/99 Rudiger Fortesque III I saw it three times. 1st-plot, 2nd and 3rd-nudity and gore 5 stars
4/25/99 twisted barbie 90210 meets outer space....I got some great laughs from this one! 1 stars
3/17/99 Max Bernstein Fuck Doogie Howser. Only good parts was the t!ts. What can I say? I love t!ts! 1 stars
3/16/99 Ah Dooey Better than that vile movie Wing Commander 4 stars
3/13/99 Love Donkey Ultra-violent retard schlock.Offensive. 1 stars
3/10/99 perlpex A move that not many people understand - THEY ARE TOO NARROW MINDED! 5 stars
2/23/99 Scott 1st understand what the director is doing-then you will get this flick & love it 5 stars
2/19/99 Piz a product for 12 year olds with an R rating 2 stars
2/01/99 Matthew Bartley For all that is sacred DONT SEE THIS FILM!!!!! 1 stars
1/07/99 Jo Mama fun movie. guns, hotties, and violence.luved it. 4 stars
1/07/99 Juan Carlos Rey Actors suffered from "Cutthroat Island" Syndrome... too happy amidst brutal death and shit. 2 stars
12/31/98 JDC an almost deliberate mockery of the Heinlein novel on which it's based. 2 stars
12/14/98 Felixmeister Verhoeven once again takes an idea and reduces it to pure infantile gore. 1 stars
12/07/98 Shadow Raider The buggers in this flick are kick-ass than the ones in Mimic and ID4. Watch it! 4 stars
12/04/98 Shadow Raider Excellent battle scenes, action, story and FX, great trailer. Oh well... watch it. 4 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink This movie ROCKS! Verhoeven's sadistic in-joke has the best battlescenes ever!Great!!! 5 stars
11/13/98 Per Kihlborg This is by far the worst movie I have ever seen, and I sat trough Hobgoblins!! 1 stars
11/05/98 bvw every shot is a special effect. this shit is awesome. hot chick, too. 5 stars
11/04/98 Bad Kosh Worth a look, better than that ID4 shit, you gotta love it... 4 stars
10/26/98 Cage Super!!! Wow!!! Great FX, action, story, characters.. Nuke'm Rico!! 5 stars
10/17/98 Sailor Moon Ate My Balls Full of intense action and fun, this you gotta watch! 4 stars
10/07/98 Maegs Found it satirical. Lost * for Denise--she's Smack-able 4 stars
10/01/98 Division 6 Great flick! Is a movie ever faithful to the book? Then shuddup and like it. 5 stars
9/25/98 Jeff Heintz IT IS FUCKING AWESOME!!! 5 stars
9/16/98 Trav Wonderful, funny film. But Denise Richards sucks, and almost ruined it! 5 stars
9/06/98 BBReBozo Who the fuck does not-naked-getting Denise Richards thinks she is? 4 stars
9/06/98 Young Einstein Two words. Denise Richards. 4 stars
9/04/98 Jon Liked it. 4 stars
8/30/98 Matt well, there was nudity and fighting and stuff, but the ending made me angry 3 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Could have done without Jake BUsey's ass. 3 stars
8/22/98 Superfly I expected it to suck very badly, maybe that's why I thought it was so good. 4 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet Too much Richards is never enough. And shower scenes. 4 stars
8/16/98 Johny amazingly bad acting, but the fun and satire mix well 4 stars
8/16/98 J-Guy (The MFC) they tried to make a point about violence. It ended up looking like a bad movie. 2 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} For all it's problems, this was actually fun to sit through. Denise has teeth n'stuff 4 stars
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  07-Nov-1997 (R)



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