Starship Troopers (review by Doug Smith)
Why, oh why, oh why did I subject myself to this movie? Not only once, but three times! Watching it all the way through once, with no interruptions … watching it a second time with the filmmakers’ commentary feature on … and watching it yet a third time as I write this. Do I hate myself? Do I enjoy mental anguish? Do I enjoy physical pain? (Yes, physical … you try listening to Paul Verhoeven’s voice.) The answer to all of these questions is apparently a resounding yes. “Starship Troopers” is, what the director and writer (Edward Neumeier) would have you believe, a brilliant satire on the modern world. When in actuality it’s essentially just a brain dead movie with lots of neat special effects, made by a couple of people with massive egos and little intelligence. Yes, it is based on a pretty good book by Robert Heinlein. No, it doesn’t do the book justice. Unless justice means holding the author down and Snicker-snagging in his face.
The movie takes place in the 23rd century and is about an extremely intelligent race of insects waging war on the planet Earth (which is now apparently just one big nation). Starring Leonardo … I mean, Matt Damo … no, wait, the other one … oh, yeah, Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico. Dina Meyer plays one of Johnny’s love interests, Dizzy Flores. The other, Carmen Ibanez, is played by Denise Richards, who has a freshly stupid quality about her. The big-toothed, dopey grin-wearing Jake Busey plays ace Levy. And, finally Doogie Howser plays Carl Jenkins.
The movie opens with a parody of propaganda films from the fifties and we go live to the bug’s home planet of Klendathu, where the announcer gets split in half by a bug and Casper Van Dien overacts, which is one of two things that he’s good at in this movie. The other being not acting at all. He’s either screaming his lungs out, or just standing there looking smug into the camera and blandly reading lines.
Now we jump back to a year ago (don’t ask me why the director thought it was necessary to have the first half of the movie in flashback … and while I’m at it, don’t ask me why the director bothered making this at all). Johnny Rico is in class sending dirty pictures to his girlfriend with his high-tech Etch-A-Sketch, while the teacher (Michael Ironside) is mumbling something about democracy not working and atomic bombs or some damn thing. I lost track because I went to the bathroom mirror to pop a zit and that was actually much more interesting.
After the class is over, Johnny and Carmen go out to the hall and kiss. They look like a couple of carp goin’ at it. Then they go to check if their math final scores have been posted yet. Carmen does great and, as it turns out, Johnny is as dumb as a box of rocks. Go fig. Carl shows up and humiliates Johnny. Then they’re off to biology class, where they dissect some bugs and Carmen blows chunks. And this paragraph basically sums up our heroes, ladies and gentlemen.
After a scene where Carl tests Johnny for ESP (he doesn’t have it, Carl does), we go to a football game, which basically looks like one of the short lived XFL games, only it’s a bunch of pretty boys pretending they have talent. We get to meet Carmen’s next love interest, Zander. She actually turns out to be a slut, but if you listen to the filmmakers’ commentary, they seem to think they’re breaking new ground by making her out to be in love with two guys. They pretty much say that the American public is just stupid and didn’t like her because they’re afraid of powerful women. They’re wrong. She’s just a slut.
After the game, Johnny dresses up like Richie Rich to get ready for his prom. But before he goes on his merry way, his mom and dad confront him about joining the military. They don’t want him, but he wants to because Carmen wants to. Yeah, that’s a good reason. Oh, and there’s also some underlying comments on today’s world, because Johnny’s parents are wealthy, so they’re treated specially or something. I lost interest again because I found something interesting on the WWF website.
At the dance, it becomes clear that Dizzy wants Johnny, but Johnny doesn’t want Dizzy, even though Carmen is whoring around with Zander. The next day, Johnny, Carmen and Carl go sign up for the military. Carl gets to go into military intelligence, Carmen is going to be a pilot (probably so she can sleep around with countless guys on airships) and Johnny ends up having to go into the infantry, pretty much because he’s stone dumb.
After we get treated to yet another propaganda send-up, we go to boot camp, where a psychotic drill instructor breaks a guy’s arm just before Dizzy shows up. After she gets her butt kicked by the drill instructor, they go to the mess tent to eat pink mashed potatoes. After that, they go through an obstacle course and the drill instructor throws a knife through Ace’s hand. He doesn’t scream TOO much, so you really have to HAND IT TO HIM! HA!
Next we go to the bisexual person’s dream, a co-ed shower. There’s body parts just a floppin’ around everywhere. And, yes, the rumors are true. Director Paul Verhoeven and cinematographer Jost Vacano took their clothes off to encourage the actors. I don’t know what Jost looks like, but I do know what Paul looks like. And, quite frankly, just the very idea is more terrifying than any bug this movie has to offer.
Now we get to go to space, where Carmen is in pilot training. As it turns out, Zander is also there, so the slut should be happy. She nearly crashes the ship into the side of the space dock. Whee.
Then we go back to Johnny, where he and his troupe are playing a game of Laser Tag. Man, I just can’t keep up in such a fast-paced movie. Girls flying big-ass ships, twinks playing Laser Tag … this movie is such a roller coaster ride of fun!!!! And then Johnny becomes squad leader and Carmen breaks up with him (because she’s probably boinked Zander about fifty times by now) and he promptly gets one of his men killed. It seems the military is into S&M, so they whip Johnny as a punishment.
After the whipping, Carmen proves herself by getting the ship out of the way of an asteroid, which goes on to destroy Buenos Aires. Just as Johnny is about to quit the military and go home, he learns his city has been destroyed and his parents killed. So he signs back up. Again, whee.
The movie goes on for way, way, WAY too long, with humans blasting bugs and bugs slaughtering humans. Eventually, humans capture a “brain bug,” which is supposedly the leader of the creatures and that’s the end of the movie. In case you couldn’t tell, I severely hated this movie, and its director and its writer, and the cast, and pretty much anyone else who may have been involved. This movie is basically just a hateful little anti-government, dis’ the man piece of useless tripe. The writer’s probably some guy who sits around in Starbucks’ coffee lounges, complaining about how bad life in America is and how much “The Man” keeps him down, even though he probably would have money if he’d stop blowing it on $5.00 cups of coffee. I give this movie a moldy yak turd.