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Starship Troopers (1997)

Genocide doesn't compare to this.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 129 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18


Paul Verhoeven is a Marmite director – you either think his films are cheap, tacky abominations, or they are tremendous futuristic fun with something to say.  But the former Dutch seaman has a decent B-movie back-catalogue including Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct. Okay, maybe not Showgirls. Or Hollow Man. Starship Troopers was huge misunderstood flop at the time but after the dust has settled must be viewed with more respect.

The storyline is a tad far-fetched and goes a little something like this. On the faraway planet of Klendathnu giant bugs fire nuclear weapons out of their backsides and one lands on Buenos Aries (a Latin American city comprising of only American teenagers). At this provocation, the barely disguised Fascist powers of earth mobilise and prepare for war. Three friends are called up – Johnny Rico (Van Dien) to the infantry, Carmen Ibanez (Richards) to the air force and Carl Jenkins (Harris) to military intelligence – and the first half of the film follows their exploits in training before they ship out to Klendathnu to kick some bug ass.

In a very similar way to Full Metal Jacket, Starship Troopers is split into two parts, with the first hour setting the futuristic scene and admirably giving depth to the characters and then it breaks out into a full blown invasion epic complete with impressive CGI, involving set piece battle scenes and interspersed with comical public service announcements. Surprisingly, under Starship Troopers’ glossy throwaway exterior lies a rather intelligent anti-fascist, anti-American Imperialist critique that is well-developed and never gets in the way of a rollicking action movie. Many viewers will just dismiss Starship Troopers as a big dumb B-movie, but they shouldn’t, as it so much more.

All the staples of a Verhoeven film are here – gratuitous nudity, ultra violence and cheesy dialogue (my favourites being ‘The only good bug is a dead bug!” and “They sucked his brains out”). The actors, including lightweights Casper ‘made for TV’ Van Dien, Denise ‘rent-a-chest’ Richards and Dina ‘will strip for anything’ Meyer, seem to revel in the cheesy rubbish they are asked to spout and make it feel like they’ve found their level. Never again will they have it as good as this.

It's Got: Impressive special effects, worthy characterisation and clever satire.

It Needs: Acting lessons all round, to be watched in the right spirit.

DVD Extras Not one but two audio commentaries, 'Death From Above' featurette which interestingly explores the film's poor reception and misconceptions from the media, a range of other short features including 'The Making Of Starship Troopers', 'The Spaceships Of Starship Troopers', 'Bug Test Film', 'Know Your Foe', and 'FX Comparisons', and the usual deleted scenes fare. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


Paul Verhoeven is at his crazy best with this mixture of B-movie shoot-em-up and anti-Imperialist critique. It’s much deeper than it would seem at first glance but it’s also great fun.