Published on July 21st, 2012 | by Chris0
Starship Troopers (1997)
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OK, so 1997's Starship Troopers is but a pale, dumbed-down, action-laden imitation of Robert A. Heinlein's great treatise on our military industrial complex, among many, many other things. But you know what? I still like it. Here's why.
Where Heinlein's story follows very, very closely inside the head of Johnny Rico, Paul Verhoeven's adaptation steps outside of that and into the broader world, into the war between us and the bugs of Klendathu....
In fact, I'd go one step further and say that Verhoeven's Troopers is a rather blatant send-up of what we'd call "classic" World War II movies, with a healthy dose of propagandistic techniques, purposefully over the top gratuitous violence, and just enough war-movie stereotypes to make us all roll our eyes.
And if you look at it that way, it really is pretty awesome. Take Heinlein's original premises, and put them in this context, and how can you not like it. Whether its the typical "all-argentinian" boy Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), his smart and attractive girlfriend Carmen (Denise Richards), the tomboy alternate romantic interest "Diz" (Dina Meyer) the "competition" Zander (Patrick Muldoon) or the hard-ass veteran-slash-school teacher-slash-soldier again Rasczak (Michael Ironsides)... there is just so much satire of the war movie-love story we all grew up on.... And hey, NPH is in it, so there's always that, if nothing else.
Funny, too, watching this now, vs. when it was first released, is how it almost predicted the response to 9/11. Seriously. Go back and watch this, and see what I'm talking about. I never realized it before (not like I watch this a lot), but I guess I'd never seen it before.
Yes, it does briefly (very briefly) touch on the themes in Heinlein's book, such as patriotism, fascism, militarism, duty, etc. etc. Even going so far as to bring an almost SS-and-Wermacht-like look-and-feel to the military's uniforms.... Unfortunately it really doesn't bite enough of this off to make you think, and unless you've read the book before (I did a long, long time ago) you won't think of these things. Coupled with the aforementioned satirical elements and the obvious action/effects angle, its not something you might see at first....
I'm sure this will be received with jeers of "Are you nuts!? That movie sucked!" which I will simply answer with, "yeah, but in a good way." Not good enough to get past a 7/10, but still pretty good. Oh, and definitely not for the younger set. Trust me on that one.
Maybe someday someone will make a good and proper film adaptation. Maybe.
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